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Virtual Assistant Jobs

Does avoiding a commute and setting your own hours sound appealing? A virtual assistant job may be a perfect fit. Many brick-and-mortar and online business owners look for virtual assistants. We’ve gathered info on what it takes to be a successful virtual assistant, how much money you can make and the most promising ways to find virtual assistant jobs. 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is an administrative assistant that performs all the duties an in-office employee would normally do, without the office. Virtual assistants work remotely and keep in close contact with their employers via phone, email, instant messaging and video chat. You might wonder why a business owner would hire someone to assist them while working offsite. Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s cheaper for companies. Generally, virtual assistants don’t receive benefits such as health insurance. Since benefits are a huge cost for employers, hiring a virtual assistant is appealing because it’s a great way for employers to save money.
  • It’s perfect for small business owners. Many small business owners get bogged down by administrative tasks, such as ordering supplies, answering phones and managing social media accounts. A virtual assistant can handle all of these tasks, leaving business owners more time to manage operations and grow their business.
  • Provides freedom and flexibility. Hiring a virtual assistant means having one less employee in the office to manage, a money and time saver.

On the other hand, there are several pros and cons you might want to consider before you choose a job as a virtual assistant. 

Pros

  • Flexibility: You may be able to work more than one remote job if you have the time and are good at prioritizing.
  • Set your own schedule: You can decide where and when you work.
  • Name your price: You can potentially make $30 to $50 an hour If you’re a skilled virtual assistant. 

Cons

  • Socially isolating: This type of job often offers very little human interaction, which means it’s probably not the best fit for extroverts.
  • No benefits: It’s very possible that you won’t get benefits, so if you want them you’ll need to pay for them out of pocket. You probably won’t get any paid days off, either.
  • Multitasking might be challenging: Working from home can be challenging if you have to juggle kids, pets and life in general.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

If you were hired as a virtual assistant, what would you be expected to do? A virtual assistant is an executive assistant who does just about everything except make coffee and greet customers in person. You might:

  • Answer phone calls and respond to emails.
  • Manage the office calendar, schedule meetings and arrange travel.
  • Draft correspondence such as letters, emails and marketing materials.
  • Promote the company via marketing and social media campaigns.
  • Order office supplies, manage vendors and schedule building maintenance for brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Manage payroll and maintain accounting records.

A virtual assistant plays a key role in businesses, and in many ways, are the “face” of the company. You’ll likely be the first person a customer or business colleague comes in contact with as a virtual assistant, so your demeanor and professionalism could make or break your company’s reputation. Your mission as a virtual assistant is to treat customers just as you would in an office setting.

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

What kind of education and training do you need to be a virtual assistant? An official degree isn’t mandatory, but at a minimum, you’ll need a high school diploma. Depending on the business you work for, it may be a good idea to acquire certifications in certain areas.

For example, if you’re working for a marketing company, a Google Analytics or Google AdWords certification may give you an edge over the competition. There are business schools that offer degrees in office management, but tuition can be costly. That said, any certifications, training or education you acquire will make you a more desirable virtual assistant candidate. 

The biggest draw for an employer looking for a virtual assistant is experience. Have many years of experience doing office and administrative work? It could work in your favor.

Types of Virtual Assistant Jobs and Titles

A virtual assistant is a broad term that could refer to many different job titles and functions. You might also be called a customer service representative, personal assistant, office manager or marketing assistant. Here are some sample virtual assistant job titles and descriptions and keywords to search for when looking for job titles in job search engines.

Entry-Level Virtual Assistant Jobs

Know Microsoft Office and Google Docs, have good communication skills and can type fast? You could qualify for an entry-level virtual assistant job. Do you have more skills, expertise in office software programs and more experience? You would qualify for a mid-level to a senior-level virtual assistant job and command a higher salary. 

Office Assistant

An office assistant job involves performing any and all office-related tasks, from answering phones and drafting documents to marketing and calendar management. An office assistant job will likely require at least a few years of office experience, virtual or not.

Personal Assistant

You may be expected to perform administrative tasks as well as provide personal support and assistance to your employer, such as scheduling a cleaning crew or ordering groceries and may find yourself doing some atypical jobs. 

Marketing Assistant

Since most marketing functions within businesses can be done virtually, it makes sense to hire a virtual marketing assistant. A marketing assistant might be required to cold call customers to get new business, manage social media pages, create flyers and more. You’ll probably need some type of marketing experience to get this job, and in some cases, might need a college degree.

Customer Service Assistant 

Many companies hire virtual customer service assistants so they can get 24/7 support for their customers. National and global companies need customer service teams that span different time zones, so virtual customer service assistants fit the bill. You should have at least a few years of customer service experience to land this job.

Salary Ranges and Expectations for Virtual Assistant Jobs

The average salary for a virtual assistant is $16.06 per hour, but that can vary depending on the job, according to Indeed.com. You can set your own hourly rate as an independent contractor. 

Projected Growth Rate of the Virtual Assistant Field

There are currently nearly 4 million virtual assistant job openings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More and more companies fit this mold, so there will always be demand for virtual assistants and job security shouldn’t be a worry.

How to Get Hired as a Virtual Assistant

There are many things you can do to get hired as a virtual assistant:

  • Promote yourself. Update your LinkedIn account and spread the word to friends, family members and colleagues that you’re looking for a virtual assistant job. Create a Facebook page promoting yourself as a virtual assistant. You can also create a cheap website for about $10 a month using sites such as Weebly and Wix, highlighting your office experience and contact information. List all of your related office skills.
  • Apply on job search engines and company websites. Use specific keywords such as “virtual” and “remote.”
  • Network. Attend business networking events in the community and pass out business cards.
  • Stay up to date. Keep current on software updates (such as Microsoft updates) and acquire as much free training as possible online, with books, etc.

Top 6 Skills to Be a Successful Virtual Assistant

What kind of skills do you need to be a successful assistant? Here are the top 6 must-have skills.

Expert Time Manager

Working from home is not as easy as it sounds. As a virtual assistant, you’ll need stellar time management skills so you can schedule your tasks accordingly. Your employer will expect you to be online at a specific time and available during an established time period. Can’t commit? This type of job may not be for you.

Skilled Organizer

Extreme organization is a must if you want to be a virtual assistant. You need to prioritize your tasks using an online calendar as well as with hard copy files. 

Highly Independent

You’ll have to be a self-starter extraordinaire. You won’t have any in-person contact with co-workers and supervisors, so if you have questions, you’ll have to be proactive in finding the answers yourself. You’ll be a one-man or one-woman show.

Great Communicator

Since all of your work will be performed virtually, your communication skills will matter. You’ll need to be able to communicate with customers, executives and colleagues in a timely and articulate manner by phone, email and instant messaging.

Technically Savvy

You need to be well-versed in all the latest telecommunications platforms (such as Skype or Google Hangouts), be proficient with Google Docs and other web-based applications such as Trello (a collaboration tool). Be honest with yourself as to whether you’ll survive as a virtual assistant if you consider yourself to be a digital dinosaur.

Talented Project Manager

You’ll be tasked with dozens of projects across a wide range of categories and will be expected to manage each project from start to finish without a hitch. You’re only as good as your last completed project. 

You’re on track to be successful as a virtual assistant if you’ve mastered all of these skills.

Opt for More Flexibility

A virtual assistant job can save you money if you’re on a budget. You’ll spend less money on gas and car repairs, zero on parking, less money on work clothes and you can itemize your deductions if you file taxes as an independent contractor. (You can write off your computer and home office space, for example.)

Weigh the pros and cons carefully before you look for a job as a virtual assistant, and if you decide if it’s right for you, you can say goodbye to the rat race for good and create a different way for yourself to plan for retirement.

Want to sharpen your virtual assistant skills? Check out Benzinga’s guides to the best online business management courses, the best communication courses and the best Excel courses.