How to Become a Certified Personal Assistant: Training & Job Description

Explore how to begin a career as a certified personal assistant. Find out current information on educational and training requirements, along with the potential for job growth. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

A personal assistant, executive assistant, or secretary is a person who assists executives or employers and clients of prominence in organizing and managing tasks essential for daily life. Duties include organizing, researching, scheduling, planning, and at times traveling with or for the client. Learn about the training and skills needed to become a certified personal assistant in the quick-glance table below to find out if this is the career for you.

Education Required High school diploma or equivalent
Training Required On-the-job training
Certification Available Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) program through IAAP
Average Annual Salary (2019) $39,652 (personal assistants) *
Job Growth (2016-2026) -17% (executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Typical Duties of a Certified Personal Assistant?

A certified personal assistant performs an array of tasks to assist the client or employer in managing and organizing their home, personal life, business, or all of the above. A personal assistant can take care of the household, screen phone calls, plan events, manage schedules, and set up travel accommodations. Some certified personal assistants work for high-profile and wealthy clients, leading lavish lifestyles like their celebrity employers. Some personal assistants become close with their clients and can travel to exotic places and mingle with other successful people.

What Type of Skills Are Needed to Be a Certified Personal Assistant?

A certified personal assistant is someone who needs excellent organizational and managerial skills. Additionally, a personal assistant must be detail-oriented, dependable, and trustworthy. These assistants should have good social, problem-solving, communication, and office technology skills as well. A certified personal assistant must be flexible and remain calm under pressure.

What Type of Education is Needed to Become a Certified Personal Assistant?

A minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent, along with relevant work experience, are typically required to become a certified personal assistant. Computer and other office technology training is often preferred. To become certified as a personal assistant by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), an individual must meet specific prerequisites to apply for the certification program. For example, if an individual has no college degree, they may apply if they have four years of relevant work experience. Applicants with three years of experience and an associate's degree or two years of related experience a bachelor's degree can also qualify for the program. Upon successful completion of the exam, the student could be awarded the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential.

Must You be Certified to Work as a Personal Assistant?

Not all employers, or clients, require certification to work as a personal assistant. Certification could, however, provide an assistant with a competitive edge in the workforce, evidence of expertise, and increased earnings. Furthermore, certification can be added to a resume and mentioned during interviews, thereby advertising and promoting themselves as a professional.

How Long Does It Take to Become Certified as a Personal Assistant?

Although no certain course of study is required, the IAAP publishes a CAP body of knowledge as guidance and recommends that individuals study for several months to prepare for the exam. Once study is complete, a participant must sit for the exam before the certification is awarded. The exam consists of materials about office technology, organization, and managerial skills. Upon successful completion, a participant could be awarded the official CAP certification. Once earned, the certificate must be renewed periodically to maintain validity.

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