We often get asked what degree or qualifications are important to pursue a career as a personal assistant or administrative professional. Every client is unique and comes with different requirements and expectations, so there is no one answer which works for everyone and no personal assistant degree. However, in this article, we explore some of the common expectations clients ask for, including common personal assistant degree requirements and the qualifications required to be a personal assistant.
What Does a Personal Assistant Do?
A personal assistant role is varied. Typical duties include:
- Diary and inbox management
- Booking travel
- Scheduling meetings
- Preparing reports
- Answering the phone
- Acting as a gatekeeper
- Taking minutes in meetings
Sometimes PAs can also be involved in projects, events, research, managing an office and other members of the admin team and also personal PA duties. Personal PA duties could include:
- Managing multiple properties
- Managing household staff
- Personal shopping
- Liaising with family members
- Booking private travel and appointments
As no PA role is the same, the requirements of the PA, including previous experience, personality fit and qualifications, also vary from role to role. See here for a full PA job description.
The salary of a PA can also differ dramatically depending on the level of previous experience required, the expectations of the role, and the industry in which the role is working within. The corporate sector tends to pay more than the creative sector, but this usually ranges from between £30,000 - £45,000. Bonuses can also play a large factor in the remuneration package and the benefits package and working hours should also be taken into consideration. See here for a rundown of average PA salaries by region.
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Personal Assistant?
At a minimum, most of our PA roles have an expectation that candidates are educated to A-Level and have competency with Microsoft Office packages as well as having proven previous administration experience. Some clients do prefer graduate calibre candidates whereas others see greater value in proven previous experience.
Some degrees have a more obvious crossover with a personal assistant role, such as Business Administration, Business and Management, or Marketing and Events. However, an academic degree from a top university is still very valuable and will be impressive to future employers.
What you have actually studied is often less of a concern to a future employee, it is what grade you achieved and the institution you attended, as this gives a measurable level of academic achievement. To graduate from a university shows a level of commitment and will often involve other skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communication, all of which are valuable to a PA role.
When interviewing be ready to discuss what you learned from your studies, and you don’t have to solely focus on the academic element, the soft skills are equally important and can be good talking points. See here for a list of PA interview questions you can prepare for.
Other PA Qualifications
PA or Business Diploma
Another option that can be just as valuable is a specific PA or business diploma which is a shorter course but which will teach the specific skills required for a PA role. An example of this is Pitman Training which can be completed part-time and via long-distance learning, so should be flexible to complete around other commitments. Therefore, if you were unable to go to university, but wish to enhance your skills, this is a way you can still do that alongside working.
Perhaps you could even ask your employer to pay for the additional training courses. Most companies have a budget set aside for personal development and if you can make a business case that the skills you develop will be valuable in your current role, this builds a strong case to receive some financial help towards these additional qualifications. See this comprehensive list of PA & VA courses that will help you further develop your skills.
Some candidates do apprenticeships to gain experience in their chosen career path. This gives them workplace training rather than doing higher education, and others will do additional qualifications part-time alongside their studies to build up their CV. See here for advice on writing your PA CV.
If you’ve been asking yourself ‘what degree do you need to be a personal assistant’ or ‘do you need a degree to be a personal assistant’, just remember that there are many different avenues to prepare you to be a good PA. A degree is not always necessary. Generally speaking, the more you can add to your CV to show commitment to the PA career and demonstrate your skills, the more attractive you become as an employee.
Searching for A PA Role? Get Your Dream Position with Oriel Partners
If you are looking to start your PA career, looking to take your next step or would simply like some career advice, the team at Oriel Partners are here to help. We work on roles across all industry sectors from junior receptionists and team assistants, all the way up to executive assistants and chief of staff roles. To view our current active vacancies, please visit our job board or call the London office on 0207 101 9229.