Personal Assistants (PAs) provide administrative support to one or more directors or members of senior management.
With the purpose of enabling the manager or executive to make best use of their time, the PA takes on varied administrative tasks such as diary and event management, travel arrangements, inbox management and meeting administration.
This detailed guide includes a full Personal Assistant job description and everything else you need to know about Personal Assistants, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Personal assistant job description
- How much do personal assistants earn?
- What does a personal assistant do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs personal assistants?
- Which junior jobs progress to personal assistant roles?
Personal assistant job description
Personal assistant |Sullivan & Company Ltd
About Sullivan & Company Ltd
Sullivan & Company Ltd is an ambitious, prestigious and successful financial services business serving a multinational client base.
About the role
We require a dedicated personal assistant to provide business, administration and personal support to our senior IT director, providing them with the ability to perform their role efficiently
- Management of incoming communications from external parties such, as emails, calls and meeting requests
- Diary management, meeting preparation and travel arrangement and booking
- Providing administrative support such as data management, letter writing and email comms to staff
- Professionally represent the IT director in relationships with clients, colleagues and the press
- Undertake research and ad hoc projects as and when needed by IT director
- Plan, organise and manage events as needed, including corporate entertainment and conferences
- Act with tact and discretion to support confidentiality when dealing with personal matters
- Managing directors expense claims and handling of occasional personal matters
Location & commitments
- Permanent role at London office
- Full-time hours, Mon – Fri
- Overtime required occasionally
- Reports to: Europe IT Director
- 3 years+ experience in business administration essential
- Confident use of Microsoft Office suite including Word, PowerPoint and Excel
- Outstanding organisational and time management skills
- Proven ability to communicate with a wide range of people while maintaining confidentiality and professionalism
- Previous experience supporting senior business figures
Contact us to apply
We’re looking forward to receiving CVs from candidates with a passion for professionalism and business administration. Please include a cover letter demonstrating your written communication. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much do personal assistants earn?
Personal assistant salaries are fairly consistent across both private and state sectors. The average PA salary in the UK is £28,000.
Personal assistant salaries in the UK
- Low: £22,750
- Average: £28,000
- High: £33,143
Source: Total Jobs
There is some variation in personal assistant salaries. Variations are usually due to one or more of the following conditions:
- Experience – PAs are paid higher salaries for greater experience, particularly if niche or industry-specific experience is needed.
- Company or manager profile – Higher profile companies or executives generally pay Personal Assistants more, in line with greater exposure and responsibility.
- Location – PAs in central London or other major cities are typically paid more.
- Responsibility – Some PAs have duties of a wider scope than purely administrative work e.g. project-based research. These roles command a higher salary.
For example, a highly experienced PA to a high-profile director in a financial organisation in central London will typically earn more than a PA to a board in a medium-sized provincial business.
The averages given here look at salary only. They don’t include benefits which can be broad ranging, particularly in the private sector. Additional benefits may include bonuses and overtime.
What does a personal assistant do?
The job description of a Personal Assistant typically includes some core responsibilities and duties;
- Representation of the manager – Serving as the main point of contact, in person and through correspondence, for the manager or executive
- Diary management – Making appointments for the manager and controlling their schedule in accordance with their needs and availability
- Meeting facilitation – Booking meetings as well as preparing meeting rooms, advance documentation, and taking notes and minutes as needed
- Travel arrangements – Comparing, costing and booking travel arrangements for the manager
- Events management – Organising events, conferences and appearances as needed
- General administrative tasks – Such as report, presentation and document preparation as well as tasks such as typing and research
- Systems and procedural oversight – Managing and organising office and organisational systems e.g. databases and filing
- Liaison: Liaising with different parties on behalf of the manager or organisation such as with clients, customers, suppliers or staff
- Expense administration: Collating and filing the manager’s expenses in a timely and accurate manner
- Personal tasks: Some PAs are asked to carry out routine personal tasks, e.g. dry cleaning or making appointments, to facilitate the manager’s time
What do personal assistants need?
Personal assistant roles need confident and organised individuals who can act with high levels of professionalism and discretion. Time management is central to the role, as well as a keen eye for detail, a proactive approach, and an ability to work under pressure at times. Experience in administrative roles is required, and many employers ask for qualifications.
Here are details of what is needed:
Junior personal assistant jobs are usually accessed following previous administrative and office-based roles. Occasionally, it is possible for a candidate to enter a Junior PA role directly from college, although this is more unusual. Work experience in an administrative function is essential.
Intermediate to senior personal assistant jobs require the individual to have already worked as a PA in less-pressured or demanding environments, or for fewer executives. Diverse administrative responsibility is required, gained over several years, potentially in different roles.
Personal assistants rely on a toolkit of “soft” skills, which complement their technical skills, such as diary management and event planning. These include:
- Organisation and time management: The ability to use available time productively and in a focused and planned manner
- Communication: Communicating with different parties in both verbal and written forms
- Professionalism: Presenting and conducting work in a calm and clear way, reflective of the organisation’s standards
- Flexibility: Dealing with changes to plans and working around the needs of others
- Discretion: Operating with care and tact to protect the interests of the executive and the business
- Office software – Essential office work software such as email, word processors and spreadsheets
Personal assistant qualifications
PA qualifications are not always needed, but some employers will expect them. Many PA courses are available in a college-setting, and some courses can be undertaken via distance-learning within the professional setting.
Additional and more specific courses can be taken overtime, targeting specific skillsets needed by PAs, such as software packages used by the business.
IQ-IAM qualifications – Institute of Administrative Management
Most widely recognised in the industry are the IQ-IAM qualifications from the Institute of Administrative Management, ranging from a Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration, up to Level 6. Most entry level PAs will have Level 3 or above.
These are regulated qualifications available from multiple providers by distance and classroom learning.
The courses are typically generalist in coverage, providing an all-round training in the main areas of business administration, as required in a PA role. Areas covered include aspects of the PA role, including Project and Event Management, Business Planning and Strategy, and Facilities and Office Management.
OCR business qualifications
The OCR offers various diplomas in Business Administration in Levels 2-4. These are vocational courses, often completed while working in an administrative or junior PA role. Like the IQ-IAM qualifications, they cover a range of generalist topics from word processing to communication.
Pitman Training is a well-reputed body for suitable PA qualifications, with training centres across the country. They offer an Executive PA Diploma, and a Professional Executive Diploma, designed for those looking at a career in the PA profession. Courses are highly practical focusing on a broad range of skills such as typing, business communications, the Microsoft Office programmes, meetings and more.
What is expected of personal assistants?
Personal assistants are usually expected to commit to standard office requirements;
- Full time hours – 35-40 hours per week, Mon-Fri, with overtime required
- Flexibility – Hours will usually be typical office hours of 9-5, but flexibility around the needs of the manager could be required e.g. if the executive is travelling overseas
- Location – Office-based work is expected, although offsite availability may be required at times
Personal assistant benefits
PAs usually work for larger businesses and organisations, and tend to therefore receive a good benefits package:
- Bonuses – based on individual and company performance
- Paid sick leave
- Life assurance
Who employs personal assistants?
Personal Assistants are in high demand, particularly in the private sector, in corporate settings and medium to large businesses. However, PA roles are wide-ranging and are also found in the public sector and within charities and NGOs.
Additionally, PAs can be hired by individuals in a private capacity e.g. by High Net Worth Individuals, as well as sometimes by smaller companies and start-ups.
Typical PA employers include:
- Banks and financial institutions
- Law firms
- Corporate businesses
- Government e.g. MPs
- Media businesses
- Property businesses
- High net worth individuals – e.g. Entrepreneurs, celebrities etc.
Which junior jobs progress to personal assistant roles?
It is rare for someone to become a personal assistant without having worked in a junior administrative role first. Administrative roles which are a good precursor to the PA role include:
An office administrator is a junior generalist role within an office, responsible for general administrative tasks such as editing documentation and entering data into systems. Due to the fact these roles often involve providing admin support to senior staff, they provide plenty of relevant experience for progression to PA roles.
A secretary is a support role, focusing on the preparation of documents and correspondence, as well as answering telephones, taking meeting minutes and other support tasks.
Which senior jobs do personal assistants progress to?
Personal Assistants can develop a career within office support, or use their experience as a springboard to roles in other areas such as HR, PR or customer service. Senior roles for progression include:
PA Managers are responsible for overseeing and supervising a number of PAs. They may also still hold responsibility for many of the tasks of a Senior PA.
Office Managers are responsible for facilitating the smooth running of the office environment e.g. facilities management and managing supplier relationships.
Personal assistant job description – conclusion
Personal Assistants play a central role in facilitating busy managers and boards, enabling them to undertake their role without the burden of administration. It is a responsible professional role with a wide variety of options as to where to work, although roles are usually limited to an office setting.#
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