Virtual assistants are relatively inexpensive forms of administrative assistance for many business owners. Business owners who hire virtual assistants do not have to pay for benefits or a full-time or part-time salary for an in-office assistant. If they have a special project or only need help periodically, a virtual assistant who works by the hour or on a contract basis provides a good solution. Self-employed virtual assistants can charge what they want, based on what the market will pay for their experience, expertise, location and education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary of an executive secretary or administrative assistant as of May 2010 was $45,860. The average salary for a secretary or administrative assistant was $32,000. Legal secretaries earned an average of $43,270 per year, and medical secretaries earned an average of $31,820 per year.
Virtual assistants work from home or a virtual office for an administrative assistance outsourcing company. They have a variety of ways they can choose to bill their clients. Their rates generally run between $15 and $85 an hour, according to the website Virtual Assistant Advice. The outsourcing business Live2Care states on its website that businesses can expect to pay between $550 and $750 a month for a virtual assistant. ClericalAdvantage.com says that $35 per hour is the minimum a virtual assistant should charge. These rate suggestions are current as of June 2011. The skills and certifications a particular virtual assistant possesses will also affect how much she can charge.
Self-employment requires virtual assistants to consider their business expenses and the time spent traveling to client locations to pick up and drop off work into their rates. Some may choose to charge more to larger companies and less to smaller companies and students. They pay for their own equipment, Internet service, marketing and advertising, insurance and bookkeeping.
Virtual assistants may offer a client a bid on a per-job basis or agree to a retainer contract where the client reserves a block of time from the virtual assistant on a weekly or monthly basis. Virtual assistants often provide discounts for reserving a certain number of hours per week or month. They may charge more for transcription jobs where audio is unclear or for typing jobs where handwriting is illegible. They may also work on a per-hour basis. New virtual assistants can find work by subcontracting from other virtual assistants. They can build their portfolios and gain experience without charging rates that are too low, which may cause customers to believe they are not confident in their work or that they do poor-quality jobs. Virtual assistants who work in the medical and legal fields have specialized knowledge for which they may be able to charge more.