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Personal assistant PA, executive secretary, executive assistant

Personal assistants give secretarial and administrative support to managers.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements to become a personal assistant (PA), but you’ll need proven experience of administrative work.

Employers will usually look for a good standard of general education, including GCSEs in English and maths. A recognised qualification in office skills or administration, or a business-related foundation degree, HND or degree could all help you find a job.

Foreign language qualifications may also be useful if you plan to work in an organisation that deals with overseas visitors and clients. Having extra skills like shorthand and audio typing can also help you get in. 

Temporary work (temping) can be a good way of getting administration experience and can lead to a permanent job.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent organisational and time management skills
  • good written and spoken communication skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • a calm and professional manner
  • excellent computer and administration skills
  • a flexible and adaptable approach to work
  • the ability to use your own initiative
  • tact and discretion, for dealing with confidential information

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • screening telephone calls and handling enquiries
  • organising your manager’s diary and making appointments
  • dealing with letters and emails
  • arranging meetings
  • organising and maintaining office systems
  • taking notes at meetings
  • making travel arrangements
  • looking after visitors

Many managers rely heavily on their PA and give them a high level of responsibility, so in some jobs you may have extra tasks like:

  • standing in for the manager in their absence
  • acting as office manager and supervising other administrative staff
  • dealing with accounts and budgets
  • taking on project work, like research or producing reports and presentations

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 to £50,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week Monday to Friday, possibly with extra hours to meet deadlines. 

You’ll be based in an office, but may travel to go to meetings and other events.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could take on more responsibility by moving to a larger company or working for a more senior manager.

Promotion to management may also be possible.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016