Everything You Need To Know About Becoming An Executive Assistant
If you’re looking for a new career path at the moment and you’ve been cruising through the job advertisements, you might have seen ads for EAs or Executive Assistants.
Chances are you’ve known a few Executive Assistants over the years. They are the gatekeepers to the big boss.
Executive Assistants usually:
Could an Executive Assistant role be for you? We’ve put together what you need to know about becoming an Executive Assistant.
What does an Executive Assistant do?
An Executive Assistant supports the executive of an organisation through clerical, administrative and scheduling tasks. They are often known as the gatekeepers of the CEO because they decide which calls to put through and which emails to flag with the big boss. They handle their phone calls, their emails, their work and personal schedule, they might also run errands or organise personal staff for their boss. They are sometimes asked to represent their boss in correspondence or meetings.
The evolution of the EA
Being an Executive Assistant has become more of a flex than it used to be. New technology has simplified administration. Because of this, Executive assistants these days are in more of an advisory role to their CEO. They are now consulted for strategic planning, big picture thinking and project management. And with this the earning potential has soared. Some Executive Assistants in the tech industry are reportedly earning six figures.
How much does an Executive Assistant make?
An Executive Assistant can make anywhere from $55,000 to $130,000 depending on who they are working for.
According to Seek the most common salary is $80,000. This is a decent salary considering this role doesn’t need specialised skills or years of university education.
What options are there for career progression?
Unfortunately, there is a ceiling on how much you can earn as an EA. There is no promotion available to a job above what you do if you are already an assistant to the CEO of the company. You can earn more and progress in this career by moving onto larger companies as you gain more experience. The larger the company, the more earning potential.
What kinds of skills do you need to be an Executive Assistant?
Executive assistants or EAs are highly organised. Yet, there are a few other skills you’ll need to be able to excel in a role like this.
Big Picture Thinking
An Executive Assistant these days needs more than a fastidious nature and a typing speed of 120 word per minute. You’ll need to be able to look at the big picture and think outside the box. Many CEOs turn to their EAs for counsel on different projects. So you’ll need to be able to step back and take in the project as a whole to offer advice.
This one might go without saying these days. It’s so important not only to be tech savvy but to be ready and able to upskill your tech abilities.
It’s very likely that your boss will want you to investigate and test new applications or systems. He might be thinking of changing the way employees work, so tech skills are a must.
Researching and Reporting
You’ll need to be comfortable researching and putting together reports and collating research. Your boss may ask you to do this for personal management or work management reasons. For example, she might need a new house cleaner so she might get you research and vet five candidates for her and narrow it down to two. Or, she might need research done on new operating systems or work flow management solutions. You’ll need to be good at pulling together and collating information to make it easier for her to make a decision.
Problem solving skills are an absolute non-negotiable for Executive Assistants. When there’s a spanner in the works of a big project or when the CEO is double booked, you’ll need to be able to think on your feet and find a solution. So, thinking outside the box and using creative problem solving skills is an important part of being a good EA.
This one might sound difficult. But, you’d surprised hoy you can get in sync with someone to be able to expect their needs.
This skill comes with time. But, once you know your boss and have seen their reaction to things, you’ll be able to expect how they may react. This will enable you to best help them with different tasks, meetings or projects throughout the week. Knowing when they need a coffee, or a sugar rush can help too.
As an Executive Assistant, you are privy to sensitive documents and pieces of information both professional and personal. It’s important to be able to complete your role with discretion. There are often clauses in your contract that will require you to exercise this discretion and not divulge anything learned while you are working there.
Organisation and Prioritisation
It might sound obvious, but you’ll need to have exceptional organisational skills. You’ll need to streamline processes and rework legacy systems that weren’t well organised. Your attention to detail will need to be on point for a role like this.
You’ll also need to be ruthless when prioritising. As an EA, you are responsible for the time management of the most important and most in demand person in the company. You decide what is worth their time and what isn’t. You need to be good at making snap decisions and using your judgement to balance their priorities.
How do you become an Executive Assistant?
While there are no formal qualifications, this is a role that requires sound administration skills and good foundational technological and organisational skills. Some EAs have a degree in business, others have their year 12 certificate and a lot of experience.
This course covers all the basics you’ll need to excel as an EA. This includes writing complex documents, preparing reports, creating complex spreadsheets, implementing workplace systems and much more.
The course takes up to 12 months and can completed online in your own time so you can fit it in around your work or family commitments.
If you’re interested in becoming an Executive Assistant and you’d like to chat about your studying options you can contact us. One of our experienced course advisors will be able to talk you through your options.
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