(6.0 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||156,000|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#10|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#60|
Executive assistants often start out as administrative assistants—performing office maintenance work—then graduate to juggling tasks for the higher-ups. Shows like Mad Men frame executive assistants as nothing more than office maids, but a lot has changed over the last 50 years. While the responsibilities still include the basics, such as managing the boss's calendar, coordinating meetings, and taking messages, executive assistants are also tasked with providing high-level administrative support for the company and its top executives. Now, an executive assistant's role may include analyzing incoming documents, preparing research reports, and sometimes supervising other clerical staff members. As such, the assistant functions as an integral part of the office.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that by the year 2020, the profession will see relatively average employment growth of 12.6 percent.
In 2011, executive assistants earned a median average salary of $45,580, according to the Labor Department's report. The best-paid made approximately $71,020, while the worst-paid made around $30,000. The highest earners worked in the metropolitan areas of New York City and Nassau, N.Y., as well as San Jose, Calif.
Because executive assistants work alongside company executives, employers are increasingly seeking applicants with college degrees, and degrees directly pertaining to the company's specified business or industry will give applicants an advantage over the competition. Many organizations (such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals) offer certifications in office skill proficiency. Writing and communication skills are required, as well as the ability to work with such computer technologies as word processing, desktop publishing, spreadsheets, and database management. New hires will most likely receive on-the-job training in the specific technologies that the company uses. Employers also look out for strong interpersonal skills, as well as organization and management skills, initiative, and most importantly, good judgment.
The members of the Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (who wish to remain nameless) have plenty of advice for aspiring executive assistants. "Employers are looking for someone who can handle change, challenges, and tasks with an open mind and willingness to adapt to the surroundings," says one member. A bachelor's degree, administrative certifications, and prior experience will also help applicants to land a job. But what most AEAP members stress is honesty. "Be confident, not arrogant. Be who you are, not who you think they want you to be. Be respectful," advises another member. AEAP members say honesty and trustworthiness are key traits for which employers are looking. However, here's what one member wants to remind all aspiring executive assistants of: "Your appearance counts for a lot. Make sure you look sharp."
Last updated by Daniel Bortz.