What Does a Personal Assistant (PA) Do?

 A personal assistant, or PA, holds a crucial role providing administrative support to senior management or company directors, in order to free up their time for higher-level strategic tasks and responsibilities. There is usually a close working relationship between manager and PA, as it is the job of a PA to understand management’s objectives and have extensive company knowledge in order to handle communications and admin on their behalf.

What are the Specific Duties & Responsibilities of a Personal Assistant?

The work of a Personal Assistant can be varied and will depend largely on the organisation or company they work for. In general, it is the PA’s job to support management by providing administrative services and by being their first point of contact both internally and externally.

Duties and responsibilities include:

  • First contact for phone calls and enquiries, answering when appropriate, and scheduling calls and meetings for management when necessary.
  • Organising travel, itineraries, and accommodation for management, and scheduling diaries and commitments.
  • Ensuring management is prepared for events and meetings by producing reports, presentations, and associated documents.
  • Taking minutes or dictation at meetings and assisting with equipment and technology during presentations.
  • Implementing office procedures, with regular monitoring systems to ensure processes are being carried out effectively.
  • Carrying out background research and assisting with financial record keeping.
  • Liaising with clients and suppliers and meeting and greeting visitors of all levels.

How Does Being a Personal Assistant Vary by Industry?

As a Personal Assistant’s job description is wide-reaching, the role can vary greatly across sectors, depending on the needs of the organisation. Some Personal Assistant roles include more work around budgets and accounts, or research and marketing.

A PA working for a director of a small company may have a wider scope such as taking on some management responsibilities, being involved in decision making processes, recruiting staff, and even deputising for the manager they support in their absence.

Tasks will vary according to industry and it is important to check the job description to establish what is required of you. Applying for a PA role in an industry you have experience in can boost your chances of selection.

How Do You Become a Personal Assistant?

While there is no set route to becoming a Personal Assistant, you will be expected to have a good level of education and some solid administrative experience, and general office skills.

You will need to demonstrate business acumen to a level that will allow you to support the team at the highest level in the business you are working for. In addition to this, you will benefit from being able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Exceptional communication skills- both oral and written.
  • Excellent IT skills, including Microsoft Office and any specific software used by the industry. In some cases, you will need to be able to use social media for marketing purposes.
  • Effective organisational skills and the ability to prioritise tasks.
  • Excellent problem solving abilities.

In addition to these skills, the following qualities are often looked for in Personal Assistants:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Discretion
  • Flexible approach
  • Honest and reliable

If you don’t have experience in an administrative, or office role that will have given you these skills, a great place to start is with a personal assistant training course. Most are relatively short and leave you with a valuable credential to boast on your resume for years to come. 

What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Personal Assistant?

Every role is different and there is no set qualification required to certify you to be able to be a personal assistant, however, in most instances, you will be expected to hold some kind of qualification to back up your skills and experience.

Some employers will ask for a degree or HND, and having these in a relevant field such as business, or management will be an advantage. If you don’t have a degree or diploma, there are other professional courses you can take, such professional certificates in business support or a Professional Executive PA Diploma.

How Much Does a Personal Assistant Make?

The average salary for a PA is £30,000 (Glassdoor 2022), starting at £32,000. For those with proven skills and experience, working for large city based organisations, pay can increase to £49,000. The average wage for a PA in London is £34,295, rising to up to £47,000.

Personal Assistant FAQs

Do I need a degree to apply for a role as a PA?

No, a degree isn’t essential, although some employers may ask for one. To boost your chances, you can take a professional certificate, a typing course, or a night class related to business and administration.

Do I need experience to work as a PA?

You will be expected to have some level of office and administrative experience in order to be selected for a role as a PA. The level of administrative support required means that experience is highly valued. It might also benefit you to apply for a role in an industry that is familiar to you, so you have some specialist knowledge too, although this is not a requirement.

Can I work as a PA part time?

Yes. PA positions vary and some will be part time hours. Your working hours will generally reflect the needs of the senior member of staff you are supporting.

Where can work as a PA take my career in the future?

Working as a PA gives you a solid grounding in business administration and with the right experience and continued professional development, there are opportunities to move up quickly. Next steps may be more senior positions with responsibility for staff, or progression to an Executive Assistant (EA).

Getting started

Want to get started on your journey to becoming a Personal Assistant today? Pitman Training is an independent and flexible training provider that offers over 250 training programs in popular career fields, including our world-class Personal-Assistant courses. With over 100 years of experience, Pitman Training’s premium courses are your best bet to get the education you need to jumpstart your career quickly and with confidence. Contact us for more information or check out our list of premium courses!