Certified Personal Assistant: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for certified personal assistants. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Personal Assistant?

Certified personal assistants help clients manage their work lives. The job duties of a certified personal assistant may include scheduling meetings, planning events, managing files, and preparing documents. They may also make travel arrangements, handle correspondence, run errands and do basic bookkeeping. Personal assistants may work in an office setting or perform freelance work.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required High school diploma (or equivalent) is typical
Key Responsibilities Schedule meetings and appointments
Respond to correspondence
Run errands
Licensure/Certification Required Certification programs available, though not required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%* (for all secretaries and administrative assistants)
Median Salary (2016) $39,268**

Sources: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Would My Duties Be as a Certified Personal Assistant?

Although there is not a specific credential called 'certified personal assistant', you may become certified through professional organizations related to administrative careers. As a personal assistant, you may work for yourself as a freelancer dealing with multiple clients, or you can work in a company environment. Some of your tasks may include scheduling meetings and appointments, running errands, performing clerical tasks, organizing materials, answering phone calls, responding to emails and performing research. The specific job duties often depend on where you work, but you are usually expect to be in charge of juggling multiple duties while unsupervised. Be prepared to take on anything that your boss or client needs, since you will be integral to their professional life.

What Certifications Are Available?

The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers several relevant professional certifications, including the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation (www.iaap-hq.org). If you are working in the legal field, you may wish to earn a Professional Legal Secretary or Accredited Legal Secretary credential from the National Association of Legal Secretaries.

What Training Do I Need to Get Certified?

The requirements to earn certification vary depending on the organization and the specific credential you wish to earn; however, most certifications require you to meet specific education and experience requirements, as well as pass an exam. For example, you need a bachelor's degree and two years of experience, or an associate's degree and three years of experience, to qualify for the CAP test.

You can prepare to become certified by taking courses that emphasize computer science and administrative support skills. If you plan on specializing in a particular field, it is important to focus on the skills required for that specialization, such as learning medical or legal terminology. Relevant certificate and associate's degree programs are offered by many community colleges and vocational schools.

What Salary and Benefits Can I Expect to Receive?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a positive outlook for all secretaries and administrative assistants, including personal assistants; they predicted that employment opportunities should increase 3% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The salary that you can expect to earn from being a certified personal assistant depends on the employment options that you choose. According to data from an October 2016 Payscale.com report, personal assistants earned a median salary of $39,268. Benefits can make a difference when you are comparing employment offers. Payscale.com notes that about 27% of those in this field receive medical insurance benefits. Other possible benefits that you may receive are dental and vision insurance coverage.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming a certified personal assistant may also consider a career as a general office clerk or receptionist. A high school diploma is typically required for these careers, although more training may be preferred by some employers. General office clerks typically perform clerical duties, such as filing, handling correspondence and typing reports. Receptionists usually have administrative duties that include scheduling appointments and greeting visitors, maintaining files and answering phone calls.

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