The difference between an executive assistant and personal assistant. The best EA and PA jobs.

Personal Assistant (PA) VS Executive Assistant (EA)

Which One Should You Choose?

Personal Assistant VS Executive Assistant

While both roles are similar, there is a difference between them. So to help you choose the right one for you, outlined below is what you need to know.

What is a Personal Assistant?

When you work as a PA you support reporting teams, senior managers and department heads.  As a PA your role is to assist managers be more effective and productive.

Personal Assistant job description

Personal assistant duties include offering professional services such as-

  • Manage the diary of the person or people you report to
  • Read and respond to emails
  • Phone calls
  • Organise meetings
  • Take meeting notes and minutes
  • Prepare presentations
  • Read and prepare documents
  • Manage expenses

There are other tasks you may be required to perform depending on the industry and company needs.

The ideal personal assistant daily duties checklist will include a task list that includes management objectives.

The skills needed to be a personal assistant (personal assistant skills and abilities) are:

  • Typing speed of 30wpm or more
  • General office computer skills (i.e. office365, Gsuite etc)
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Willingness to support others
  • Ability to anticipate management’s needs

Personal assistant responsibilities (key competencies of a personal assistant) include

  • Attention to detail to ensure work is completed accurately
  • Efficiency to complete tasks quickly
  • Effectiveness to ensure tasks are competed to a high standard

The best planner for a personal assistant is one that focuses on fulfilling management objectives and effective time management.

Personal Assistant career path

A typical personal assistant career path can include starting in a general office role, becoming a PA, then moving into an EA role.

Other roles associated with being a personal assistant are:

  • Personal digital assistant
  • Virtual personal assistant
  • Influencer personal assistant

These are a support role working remotely (online).

There is also the opportunity to become a real estate personal assistant. As a real estate PA you will assist an agent with:

  • Setting up, attending and running open homes
  • Attending private inspections
  • Speaking to buyers and sellers
  • Responding to emails
  • Other general duties such as issuing contracts, giving feedback to sellers and any other duties the agent may require

Personal assistant vs secretary

A secretary may perform the same tasks as a PA, however a PA is usually considered more senior and tends to work more closely to their direct superior or manager. A PA will be expected to show more initiative, take more responsibility and may be required to purchase birthday cards or gifts for spouses, arrange for dry cleaning to be done and other more personal tasks. A PA usually works for only one person, whereas a secretary may support a number of people.

Advantages of being a personal assistant

So what’s it like being a personal assistant? Some of the advantages of being a personal assistant are:

  • You have contact with a large number of your colleagues inside and outside the company
  • It is a varied role and appeals to self starters in particular
  • You can assist with (and possibly have input into) the company strategic direction
  • Being challenged and finding solutions from time to time
  • You gain insight into many of the functions and processes of the company
  • Being are to work with and encourage others

So is being a personal assistant a good job? Is being a personal assistant stressful? The answer to both is yes. However it is a rewarding and varied role and suits those who like helping people.

Do you plan to hire a personal assistant?

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What is an Executive Assistant? Executive Administration Assistant definition (meaning)

Sometimes called an executive administrative assistant, the executive assistant role (EA) involves mainly working at board level supporting managing Directors (MD’s), the CEO (company executive officer) and COO’s (company operating officers).

Executive assistant job description. What does an executive assistant do?

An executive assistant position description is very similar to that of a PA, however as an EA you support senior managers at board level.

The best executive assistant job description will include tasks anticipating the needs of the senior person you support. A celebrity executive assistant job description

A day in the life of an executive assistant

As an EA your day will vary. It could include:

  • Arranging meetings
  • Meeting interesting, dynamic or intimidating people
  • Anticipating what tasks your manager will require you to do
  • Speaking to a number of varied people to complete tasks
  • Computer work

Why be an executive assistant? Your day will vary, include challenges and involve meeting and speaking to varied people inside and outside your company.  A typical Executive assistant first day will involve getting to know your manager, learning what tasks you are required to perform and learning to anticipate what you will be required to do next.

Benefits of having a personal assistant

Having someone to manage your time and complete tasks that can be handled by someone else gives you the opportunity to spend more time on what you need to be doing to be more effective in your role.

What to look for in an executive assistant

Personal assistant appraisal involves looking for a self starter who has good office and computer skills and works well with others.

You could also have them undergo a Personal assistant skills test

You may also decide to have them sign a personal assistant confidentiality agreement

How to become a personal assistant or executive assistant

To gain personal assistant training you can:

  • Attend personal assistant courses at TAFE
  • Study an executive assistant bachelor degree
  • Attend personal assistant short courses
  • Study executive assistant courses online

These will give you personal assistant certification and the personal assistant qualifications required to be offered a job.

Personal Assistant Salary vs Executive Assistant salary


  • Personal assistant salary Australia – between $66,000 and $72,000 per year
  • Award wage for personal assistant – between $60,000 and $80,000
  • Part time personal assistant hourly rate – between $28 and $32 per hour

The above figures are approximates and represent the personal assistant pay rate in Australia, personal assistant salary per hour and average personal assistant wage.


  • Executive assistant salary (C level executive assistant salary) – between $115,000 and $150,000
  • Executive assistant salary (average pay for executive assistant) – Around $80,000 per year on average
  • Executive assistant award wage – between $60,000 and $80,000
  • Executive assistant office manager salary – $82,000 (average)
  • Celebrity executive assistant salary – average is around $62,000 however for A-list celebrities it can rise to between $120,000 to $150,000 per year

The highest paid personal assistants are executive assistants to celebrities or those in the financial industry.

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How to get a job as a PA

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What to wear as a personal assistant or executive assistant

Unless a uniform is required, business attire is usually the norm. This can include-

For women:

  • Skirt or pantsuit
  • Blouse
  • Hosiery
  • Closed toe shoes with conservative heel

Avoid low cut shirts that show cleavage, tattoos should be covered and piercings other than minimal conservative earrings should also be covered.

For men:

  • A white or pastel shirt
  • Conservative tie
  • Dark socks
  • Dress shoes

Personal Assistant Resume and Executive Assistant Resume

To write a PA resume that will get noticed, go here.

You can use this for a:

  • Freelance personal assistant resume
  • Personal assistant bio sample
  • Personal assistant responsibilities resume

You can also use it for:

  • The best executive assistant resume example
  • Senior executive assistant resume example
  • An executive assistant bio sample
  • An executive assistant description for resume

Personal assistant Cover Letter and Executive Assistant Cover Letter

To write a 4 sentence cover letter that will get you an interview, go here.

Use this for:

  • An excellent executive assistant cover letter
  • The Best cover letter for a personal assistant job
  • Cover letter for personal assistant to CEO
  • Professional summary examples for executive assistant


Some useful links for attending an interview:

Go here for help with sample interview questions for a personal assistant

Go here for help with personal assistant competency based interview questions and answers

For executive assistant questions to ask a new boss check out executive assistant interview questions to ask an employer.

Looking for executive assistant job boards?

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How to get a job as a personal assistant

Companies are looking for you

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Search for executive assistant government jobs

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