what is an executive assistant?

An executive assistant is a clerical professional who assists high-level employees within businesses. In this role, you work with the executives you serve and get to know their personal preferences. What sets you apart from secretaries or administrative assistants is the people you report to. You work alongside CEOs, chairpersons and board members.

As an executive assistant, you are also a mediator, revising an executive's speeches, receiving phone calls and preparing publicity material. Your work enables the executive to focus on the core requirements of their job rather than day-to-day management tasks. You also act as the gatekeeper of your executive since you manage internal and external contacts. The role involves organizing appointments with colleagues and important clients and dealing with vendors.

Although you hold a subordinate role, you can advise your executive on important issues. Your direct access to internal policies and memos gives you valuable insights. You are in a position to manage team leaders, guide board members and keep your executive updated with new data. This role is also personal, calling for an awareness of the executive's private life. Hence, it requires integrity, discretion and confidentiality.

Would working as an executive assistant suit your organizational and administrative skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an executive assistant role.

executive assistant jobs

average executive assistant salary

According to Job Bank, the average salary of an executive assistant is $60,336 per year, which translates to $30.96 hourly. Entry-level executive assistants with minimal responsibilities earn over $48,750 yearly. Your earnings gradually increase to over $86,016 annually when you have additional qualifications.

what factors affect the salary of an executive assistant?

Work experience and qualifications influence your earnings as an executive assistant. If you are new to the role, expect a lower salary than an executive assistant with extensive experience. When you have over five years of experience, you are an expert in the role and can negotiate a higher salary due to the expertise you bring to the organization.

The company you work for and the responsibility you handle also influence your earnings. For instance, when you are the chief of staff, your duties include attending meetings with department heads and performing other strategic planning duties. Hence, you earn more than executive assistants focusing on administrative duties. Working in a large company also boosts your earning potential compared to working for a small organization. A small company has limited resources and may not have extensive duties for executive assistants.

Would you like to know what an executive assistant earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for an executive assistant? Then download our Randstad salary guide and find out all about the salary of an executive assistant in Canada.


types of executive assistants

The types of executive assistants depend on the company and the tasks involved. Some of the types of executive assistants include:

  • chief of staff: you handle small responsibilities to free the executive to perform other crucial roles. As the chief of staff, you handle recruitment functions on behalf of the executive. You attend meetings and lead strategic planning to free the executive. You also make sure the company runs smoothly without the executive by collaborating with department heads to ensure efficiency.
  • personal assistant: as a personal assistant, you support the executive by handling tasks in their personal life. Your duties range from running errands, organizing their household and planning events. You help create a work-life balance for your employer.
woman executive in front of laptop having a conversation with a man
woman executive in front of laptop having a conversation with a man

working as an executive assistant

As an executive assistant, you work in various industries, helping executives. Here are the duties, tasks and work environments of executive assistants.


executive assistant skills and education

Some of the requirements of an executive assistant are:

  • education: after completing secondary school, pursue a bachelor's degree in business, public administration and management. Sometimes, you require a degree in a relevant field to work in the role. For instance, working in manufacturing or technical fields requires an engineering or manufacturing background.
  • experience: when you complete your education, ensure you gain work experience through internships. Gaining administrative skills helps you excel in the role. For instance, consider becoming an administrative assistant to learn new skills that prepare you for the executive assistant role.

competencies and characteristics of executive assistants

Some of the qualities of an executive assistant include:

  • time management skills: as an executive assistant, time management and organization skills are valuable. These skills allow you to support your employer by organizing their calendars, work schedules and travels. You require time management skills to create and keep deadlines, set milestones, and prioritize tasks.
  • communication skills: as an executive assistant, you require strong verbal and written communication skills. The skills are valuable for proofreading documents and writing correspondence. Communication skills are crucial for phone etiquette as you speak with many clients.
  • adaptability: the work of an executive assistant is dynamic and requires flexibility to adapt to various situations. Sometimes, you work outside standard business hours. Hence, you should be adaptable to the changing work schedules efficiently.
  • discretion and confidentiality: as an executive assistant, you handle sensitive information and sometimes run errands related to an executive's personal life. You are expected to handle your duties with discretion and maintain confidentiality.
  • computer skills: as an executive assistant, you rely on computers and office software to plan, schedule and manage office operations. You need basic computer skills and efficiency in handling office equipment.
  • research skills: as an executive assistant, you conduct research on behalf of the executive. Hence, you require research skills to create reports and presentations for meetings or conferences.

FAQs about executive assistant jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an executive assistant.


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