Updated December 2023
Like the idea of an administrative support role? Prefer the flexibility of working from home? If you become a virtual assistant, you can have both.
Virtual assistants are home-based professionals who perform clerical and communications tasks for businesses and organizations. That can include anything from responding to emails and booking appointments to preparing documents and corresponding with clients.
So what does it take to get into this field? How do you actually become a virtual assistant?
In this post, we walk you through virtual assistant job options, training, important skills, and how to get started.
Here's everything you need to know.
WHAT ARE SOME JOB OPTIONS FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS?
Virtual assistants often work as freelancers or independent contractors.
For example, you could work with an agency that provides administrative services to various organizations. This is a great way to get experience working with different types of professionals in different industries.
You could also become a salaried employee. Many companies now have full or part-time online positions for administrative assistants and executive assistants.
Possible employers include:
- Small businesses or large corporations
- Government agencies
- Financial institutions
- Healthcare organizations
- Insurance firms
Many companies have moved their office staff online. Even as pandemic restrictions ease, a lot of businesses are continuing to allow employees to work from home.
WHAT SKILLS DO VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS NEED?
The skills you need to become a virtual assistant are generally the same ones you need to work in an actual office.
Excellent Communication Skills
This job often involves answering phone calls and emails, relaying messages, and preparing reports, memos, presentations, and other documents.
So you need good spoken and written communication skills.
That can be a challenge when working remotely. It's easy to misinterpret a message when body language isn't involved, so you need to be sure your meaning is clear.
You must always keep your tone professional, polite, and courteous.
Organization and Time Management
Good time management skills are crucial, especially if you have multiple clients.
On any given day, you could be asked to schedule meetings, organize events, monitor email inboxes, type up documents, and deal with phone calls.
You need to be super organized so that you can stay on top of your to-do list. You also need to arrange your schedule so that the most urgent tasks get done first.
Being able to juggle multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines is a key skill for any virtual assistant.
The Ability to Pick Up New Technology
For most virtual assistant jobs, you need to know standard office software like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. That's what a quality administrative assistant course will teach you.
Depending on your specific role, you may also need to use:
- Content management systems like WordPress
- Social media tools like Hootsuite or Buffer
- Cloud-based file-sharing tools like Dropbox or Google Drive
- Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet
Every company has its own systems. You won't always be familiar with them right off the bat.
The important thing is being able to adapt quickly. If you want to become a virtual assistant, you need to be comfortable learning new technology.
The Ability to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions
When you're working from home, it can be easy to get distracted by things like chores, family members, and browsing online.
Because you're not in a traditional office with a manager watching you, it can actually be harder to stay focused on work.
Virtual assistants need a separate work area in the home where it's quiet and distraction-free. You'll need to create a "barrier" between your work life and your home life.
HOW MUCH money do VIRTUAL ASSISTANTs make?
Salary depends on the specific type of services you offer and whether you are on staff or work independently.
According to PayScale, wages for virtual assistants in Canada range from $16.31 per hour all the way up to $35.10 per hour.
The average wage is $20.25 per hour.
ARE VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS IN DEMAND?
You bet they are.
One study found that employment of virtual assistants via offshore agencies grew by more than 40 per cent in 2020 alone.
In fact, many businesses are giving up physical office space and moving totally online.
Major companies like Quora and Basecamp are going permanently remote. And many others, including Shopify, Fujitsu, and Dropbox, are adopting a remote-first approach.
So the opportunities for virtual assistants should continue to multiply. It's the right time to get started in this career.
WHAT TRAINING CAN HELP YOU BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?
An administrative assistant program will help you build the skills you need to become a virtual assistant.
You'll want to choose a program that covers administrative, computer, and communication skills.
A good program will teach you about:
- Preparing and proofreading reports, memos, and letters
- Word processing, spreadsheet, and database software
- Office procedures
- Managing time, prioritizing tasks, and meeting deadlines
- Organizing information
- Dealing with people and delivering great customer service
- Communicating professionally
Administrative assistant training can be quite flexible. Some programs are delivered entirely online.
EXPLORE administrative ASSISTANT TRAINING AT HERZING COLLEGE WINNIPEG
Want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant?
Check out Herzing's administrative assistant diploma program. It takes only seven months to complete and includes a four-week internship. Training is delivered entirely online.
Click below to get more information and chat live with an admissions advisor. We're here to help!