EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: Definition, Duties, Salary, Skills & Difference

Executive Assistant
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The role of an executive assistant is a high-level position within an organization. It is an important position as executive assistants support high-ranking executives, help them with scheduling, and manage their daily operations, thereby ensuring the company runs smoothly. The job description of an executive assistant involves simultaneously handling different duties, which can be demanding and stressful.

If you want to work as an executive assistant, you should know what their roles and duties are, the required skills, what the salary range is, and what makes an executive assistant different from other administrative roles. 

Who is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant, often known as an executive administrator, oversees the communications and schedules of essential business executives. Their responsibilities may also include compiling meeting paperwork, checking and sending emails, taking and placing calls, and organizing work travel for the executives.

Executive assistants should be skilled enough to assist the executive with operational issues and take the organization to a higher level. They work closely with high-level executives and, oftentimes, are responsible for maintaining confidential information and ensuring the executive’s operations run smoothly.

Job Description of an Executive Assistant

The job description of an executive assistant includes performing essential clerical tasks for a business to operate successfully. Hence, they focus on supporting specific high-level executives and handling complex tasks. They carry out various duties and further have specific skills to succeed in the role.

What Are the Duties of an Executive Assistant?

Executive assistants offer administrative assistance to business executives so they can complete essential tasks and company projects. The duties of an executive assistant include the following: 

  • Handling the executive’s communications and seeing that crucial information are passed along.
  • They oversee the executive’s daily schedule, which includes scheduling meetings, verifying appointments, and also make transportation arrangements.
  • Train other administrative personnel in corporate policies and best practices.
  • Executive assistants prepare financial statements, reports, memos, invoices, letters, and other relevant documents.
  • Manage corporate records, documents, and reports by filing and retrieving them as needed.
  • They also gather and analyze data to produce documents that boards of directors, committees, and executives will review and present.
  • They assist in the preparation process for meetings and also take precise notes during meetings.

Requirements for Executive Assistant

There are several requirements for the executive assistant position. They include:

  • Obtaining a high school diploma and any other relevant certification
  • Should have advanced proficiency in spoken and also written communication at a professional level.
  • Being able to meet deadlines
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the entire MS Office suite
  • The ability to prioritize daily tasks effectively.
  • Should possess strong decision-making and problem-solving skills

What Are the Top 3 Skills of an Executive Assistant?

The three top skills for an executive assistant needs to carry out administrative duties are the following:

#1. Organizational Skills

Executive assistants must handle numerous tasks and information, necessitating excellent organizational skills. Also, good organizational skills enable individuals to effectively manage their time, meet deadlines, locate information promptly, and ensure smooth and efficient operations.

#2. Communication Skills

To be an effective executive assistant, it is essential to have strong communication skills. This includes communicating professionally through both written and verbal means and having a solid understanding of grammar and writing conventions. Additionally, it is necessary to be able to adapt your tone to fit the specific situation at hand.

#3. Interpersonal Skills

As an executive assistant, it is crucial to have strong people skills to establish positive relationships with executives, colleagues, and clients. Also, a desirable trait for an assistant is to be personable, capable of providing constructive criticism and assistance to their boss, and able to establish good relationships with a diverse group of people.

In addition to the top three skills, there are other necessary skills executive assistants should have, such as:

  • Leadership skills
  • Technical expertise
  • Resourcefulness
  • Ability to multitask
  • Self-direction and proactivity
  • Time management

Executive Assistant vs Administrative Assistant

The job description of an administrative and executive assistant includes performing tasks such as answering phones, maintaining schedules, editing documents, and preparing reports. However, the roles of an administrative assistant and an executive assistant differ in their administrative duties’ complexity and level of responsibility.

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants perform various administrative tasks. They support the entire office or department, handle more organizational functions for the entire office, receive delegated tasks from supervisors, and focus on entire departments or processes.

Examples of tasks that administrative assistants carry out: Managing a conference room calendar, responding to emails sent to the company account, entertaining all clients and visitors at the front, etc.

Executive Assistant

Executive assistants handle more advanced and complex duties for top high-ranking executives and CEOs and also project management duties. Their responsibilities include conducting research, reviewing documents, and supervising other clerical staff members. Also, they focus on specific people and positions. They work independently and proactively with little to no supervision. 

Examples of tasks they carry out: Managing the executive’s travel calendar, routing correspondence for a specific person, taking a key client to lunch before a meeting with the executive, etc.

Is Executive Assistant a High Position?

The executive assistant position is a high-level position within an organization. Oftentimes, they act in partnership with an executive to identify business opportunities, have conversations, and research solutions to problems. Generally, they help executives find solutions and reduce their daily workload.

Although they often carry out the same tasks as an administrative assistant, they are in a higher position because they can also provide additional proactivity and tactical expertise to their role.

What Is the Next Level after Executive Assistant?

There’s no specific next level after executive assistant. The next level will depend on individual career goals and the organizational structure. However, there are certain roles executive assistants can aspire to; they include the following: 

  • Chief of Staff (CoS) – A Chief of Staff (CoS) is a more strategic and high-level position that frequently serves as the executive’s right-hand person and oversees various projects and activities. However, depending on the company, the salary for a CoS position may not be more than for an executive assistant. 
  • Office Manager – An office manager is responsible for managing the daily activities of an office, including hiring and firing administrative workers, creating budgets, and carrying out office procedures. Executive assistants can advance to this position if they desire to move to management.
  • Consultant for Executive Operations Scaling: A person in this position works with founder CEOs in mission-driven sectors to help them scale their businesses. Changing the emphasis from administrative duties to strategic advice and operational management could be necessary.

Executive assistants can move to other positions, including project management, human resources, or marketing. Furthermore, when planning to make a progression in your career, you should follow a professional path that complements the person’s interests and skills.

Is an Executive Assistant Higher than a Manager?

The job description of an executive assistant and a manager varies. An executive assistant works with only a small number of top management executives, whereas office managers serve the broader needs of all the employees or members of a team.

While managers are responsible for the daily management of the entire team or a small department, executive assistants are rarely involved in the business’s daily operations.  Nevertheless, executive assistants and managers report to executives, but managers have a wider role that could include implementing policies and strategies across the entire organization.

Is Executive Assistant to CEO a Good Job?

Being an executive assistant to the CEO is a good job. Executive assistants working directly with the CEO will develop leadership and managerial skills. Also, they can earn a higher salary than executive assistants working for other lower managerial positions, especially in a thriving business or organization.

What Does a CEO Want in an Executive Assistant?

While every day may bring new and different challenges for executive assistants, a CEO seeks executive assistants with a combination of skills and qualities to support them in effectively managing the company’s operations. Some of the qualities and skills a CEO looks for in an executive assistant include:

  • Organization: Strong organizational skills to manage the CEO’s schedule, oversee client projects, and maintain company documents
  • Confidence: The ability to support, empower, and stand alongside the CEO, applying knowledge and intelligence in real-world settings
  • Anticipating needs and preferences: The ability to predict and plan for the CEO’s requirements without constantly relying on their direction
  • Scheduling expertise: Impeccable organizational and scheduling skills to optimize the CEO’s time and keep productivity at high levels, acting as a gatekeeper to prioritize essential meetings and events
  • Strategic Partnership: The capacity to serve as a valuable strategic partner in helping CEOs steer companies toward their objectives, providing input on critical issues, and taking on special projects
  • Integrity and Confidentiality: Excellent integrity and discretion to protect sensitive and personal information related to the organization and stakeholders. Also, executive assistants should be able to represent the CEO during non-critical meetings.

Can an Executive Assistant Become CEO?

The answer to that would be yes. Executive assistants can become CEO within an organization, but the transition would require acquiring additional skills, industry knowledge, and experience.

Is Executive Assistant a Stressful Job?

The roles of executive assistants can be demanding and stressful. The responsibilities you must carry out can become overwhelming and affect your mental health. Like every job, there will be good days and bad days, so it is important to take time off to take care of yourself. 

Why I Quit Being an Executive Assistant?

There are several reasons why executive assistants resign from their position.

#1. Career Stagnation

Some executive assistants feel stuck in their roles and worry about being pigeonholed into admin work for their careers. They may seek other opportunities that allow for personal and professional growth.

#2. Job Dissatisfaction

Executive assistants might become frustrated with menial tasks and having their work-life revolve around someone else’s daily activities. This could lead them to pursue careers that provide more freedom and creativity.

#3. Stressful Work Environment

Executive assistants often work long hours, follow their boss’s schedules, and may be required to be available during odd hours. Hence, causing burnout and a desire for a better work-life balance.

#4. Personal Reasons

Executive assistants may leave their roles for personal reasons, further education, or career change opportunities unavailable in their current company.

Altogether, executive assistants’ experiences vary depending on their personality, the executive they support, and their ability to adapt to the role.

Salary of Executive Assistant

The salary range for an executive assistant may vary depending on factors like industry, geographic location, and experience. An executive assistant may earn a salary that falls between $50,000 and $95,000 annually in the United States. 

The average salary for a standard executive assistant to the CEO or senior executive of the same level in the U.S. is $60,361, with a median of 57% of CEO executive assistants between the $56K and $141K range.


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