Want To Be an Executive Assistant? Here's What You Need to Know

By Robert Half March 17, 2017 at 3:00pm

Executive assistants continue to be in high demand, especially those with strong technical and soft skills.

As with the administrative assistant role, this job can offer a great career path. If you're interested in becoming an executive assistant (EA), here's what you need to know about the job's salary, responsibilities and sought-after skills to determine if the position is right for you, along with some tips for success in the job.

First, what are the typical duties listed in an EA job description? While responsibilities can vary depending on the specific needs of a company, department or executive, these activities are generally involved:

Executive assistant job description

  • Screening calls
  • Managing calendars
  • Making travel, meeting and event arrangements
  • Preparing reports and financial data
  • Training and supervising other support staff
  • Customer relations

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What executive assistants can expect to earn

According to the 2019 OfficeTeam Salary Guide, the midpoint salary for an executive assistant in the United States is $53,250. 

With increasing levels of responsibility come rising salaries. The midpoint salary for a senior executive assistant is $61,250.

The salaries listed in the Salary Guide reflect starting pay only and are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the demand for the role, the supply of talent and other market conditions. At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements, and the role may be in an industry where competition for talent is moderate. 

Salaries range from city to city. Use our Salary Calculator to find out what executive assistant salaries are offered in your market.

Skills employers are looking for

Some key qualifications that companies seek in an EA include:

  • Strong computer and Internet research skills
  • Flexibility
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Project coordination experience
  • Ability to work well with all levels of internal management and staff, as well as outside clients and vendors

In addition, while a high school education is required for the job, candidates with a college degree will be in strong demand among hiring managers.

When supporting anyone on the company's management team, sensitivity to confidential matters is also required.

We’ve seen administrative roles evolve in recent years, and this position is no different. In addition to technical know-how, executive assistants must have top-notch verbal and written communication skills since they often interact with everyone from shareholders to mailroom employees.

And versatility is a big plus. Beyond traditional tasks like answering the phone and scheduling meetings, executive assistants are often asked to help out in areas like corporate responsibility, budgeting, hiring and social media.

Read how author Jasmine Freeman turned her temporary office job into a lifelong passion and eventually moved up to become vice president of Office Dynamics International.

Leadership abilities are key to this job as well. EA's often manage the administrative assistants in their group, whether formally or informally. They may be expected to provide guidance and training for administrative assistants, and help hire new assistants when there's an opening on the team. They also may coordinate vacation schedules and training for technology and software.

Depending on the company and role, an executive assistant may be expected to come up with solutions to office-related issues, such as looking into a better way to track employee's travel expenses. They may be charged with organizing a firm's annual party for employees, which requires managing the catering budget, finding a facility and sending out invitations.

An EA's career may lead to a senior executive assistant position, which has responsibilities like an EA's job, but the job supports the most senior executives, particularly in large corporations. These individuals are paid more for specific industry expertise, and sensitivity to confidential matters is required.

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