Administrative professionals are highly organized individuals who help keep the office running smoothly. An executive assistant may provide administrative support to the office of the president. The president of an organization is a very busy person with a tight schedule and it is the responsibility of the executive assistant to manage his schedule, ensure he is prepared for meetings, arrange travel and provide general administrative support.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an executive assistant “provides high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization.” Executive assistants may perform less clerical duties than a secretary or administrative assistant, and maintain higher level responsibilities such as communicating with board members, performing research and submitting memos. Executive assistants are often privy to confidential information and must handle this information with discretion.
It is the responsibility of the executive assistant to manage the president’s schedule and workload and ensure he is adequately prepared for meetings. Duties may include preparing meeting agendas, providing background information, ensuring the president is briefed on his schedule and that he arrives on time to meetings. Presidents also tend to travel frequently. Arranging flights, car rental and hotel accommodations may play a large role in daily activities.
High-level and confidential support is provided during board meetings. Executive assistants often arrange the meetings, take notes during the meetings and distribute information to board members. Discretion and poise is key when liaising with board members. Other general administrative tasks may include answering phones, filing, photocopying, coordinating conference calls, transcribing notes and typing correspondence.
Qualifications and Skills
Educational requirements for an executive assistant typically include an associate degree, with a bachelor’s degree being preferred. Three to five years prior administrative experience supporting senior-level staff is also required. Other desirable skills may include strong written and verbal communication, proficiency in Microsoft Office, the ability to type more than 60 words per minute, the ability to multitask and a high level of professionalism and phone etiquette.
Work Environment and Salary
Executive assistants often work in a fast-paced office environment and may be required to work overtime and weekends as needed. According to PayScale.com, as of June 2010, the salary of an executive assistant ranges from $36,000 to $54,000, depending on employer type.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,594,000 executive secretaries and assistants employed in 2008. This is expected to increase by 13 percent in 2018, about as fast as the average of all occupations. Those with a bachelor’s degree and strong computer skills will have the best opportunities for advancement.
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