What does a virtual assistant do?
Virtual assistants are freelance assistants that provide technical, administrative, and social services from a home office. They use the telephone, fax, Internet, and email to communicate with their clients to provide immediate professional services and support. They perform a variety of tasks such as desktop publishing, writing and editing business correspondence and reports, bookkeeping, data entry, setting appointments, answering emails, and making travel arrangements. Virtual assistants often provide clerical tasks, but many provide additional services such as marketing and website development. Some virtual assistants specialize in a certain area such as real estate and technical writing.
What kind of training does a virtual assistant need?
Virtual assistants must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Many employers prefer virtual assistants that have a solid knowledge of a variety of computer software applications such as database management, desktop publishing, and spreadsheets. Many virtual assistants complete training programs offered by community colleges, vocational and technical schools, or online colleges and universities. They learn website design, bookkeeping, transcription, computer technology, and project management. Many virtual assistants gain certification from the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) such as the Certified Virtual Assistant or Ethics Checked Virtual Assistant. Virtual assistants must stay up to date with new technologies and they often complete continuing online education and training programs.
What are the prospects for a career as a virtual assistant?
Employment of virtual assistants is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The constantly growing and evolving Internet field and the increased need for virtual assistance will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be good especially for virtual assistances with specialized training and extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace virtual assistants that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do virtual assistants make?
As of January 2010, the average annual salary for virtual assistants is $45,000; average annual virtual assistant salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).
A career as a virtual assistant is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing a variety of tasks using virtual communication methods. Virtual assistants must have good word processing skills and be very proficient using the Internet. Patience, determination, motivation, detail orientation, and good organization skills are necessary characteristics. Virtual assistants must have excellent verbal and written communication and ability to work independently. They must also be flexible and able to adapt to a variety of tasks.