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How to become a Personal Assistant

personal assistant careers

What does a Personal Assistant do?

Personal assistants (PAs), also known as executive secretaries, work closely with a senior manager, supporting them, their team and their department. Duties depend on the manager’s responsibilities and the type of organisation. The work could involve making appointments and travel arrangements for the manager, maintaining their diary, screening phone calls, and organising and attending meetings.

Other duties include devising and maintaining office systems, dealing with correspondence and looking after visitors. The work involves extensive use of software packages to produce reports, letters and presentations, and possibly to deal with accounts and budgets.

They are expected to work on their own initiative and sometimes need to make decisions on behalf of their manager. The role can be quite pressurised at times, with tight deadlines.

Some PAs supervise more junior staff and take on personal projects.

What's the working environment like working as a Personal Assistant?

Personal assistants usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Overtime and flexible working could be required at busy times or to meet deadlines. Job-sharing is sometimes available.

The work is office-based, but may involve some travel to attend meetings and other events.

What does it take to become a Personal Assistant?

To be a personal assistant you should:

  • have excellent organisational skills
  • be able to multi-task while remaining calm and professional
  • be able to work with people at all levels, particularly senior management
  • be computer literate
  • be flexible and adaptable
  • have excellent communication skills
  • have an excellent command of written English
  • be tactful and discreet, as you could be dealing with confidential information
  • have an interest in business.

Personal Assistant Career Opportunities

Personal assistants mostly work in industry, commerce, the media and local authorities. They may take on more responsibility by moving to a larger company or working for a more senior manager. Promotion to a managerial position or into a specialist role may be possible.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Personal Assistant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Council for Administration (CfA)
6 Graphite Square
Vauxhall Walk
SE11 5EE
Tel: 020 7091 9620

Institute of Qualified Professional Secretaries (IQPS)
Suite 464
24-28 St Leonards Road
Tel: 0844 8000 182

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board (LCCIEB)
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board (LCCIEB)
Education Development International plc
International House
Siskin Parkway East
Middlemarch Business Park
Tel: 0870 720 2909

OCR Information Bureau
Tel: 024 7685 1509

Pitman Qualifications
1 Giltspur Street
Tel: 020 7294 3500