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What does an Executive Assistant do?

At the end of April every year, we celebrate and recognize the individuals who make business around the world run more smoothly: administrative and executive assistants. The profession has changed a lot since the 1950s, and taking dictation is mainly a thing of the past.

Today's executive assistants come from all walks of life, but they have many things in common: they usually have a solid educational background, very good computer skills, are highly organized, have perfected the art of multi-tasking, are excellent problem-solvers, are diplomatic and professional and can work well under pressure. As demands for the job have shifted, many executive assistants have taken on duties that were once reserved for professional or managerial staff, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Educational requirements

According to the BLS, applicants with extensive knowledge of computer software applications should have the best chances for success, so be sure you have solid working knowledge of software and hardware if you are thinking about becoming an executive assistant. Many times, the executive assistant solves the exasperated boss's computer problems and/or knows whom to call when things aren't working as they should.

Many employers prefer to hire applicants with college degrees. A bachelor's degree can usually be completed in four years of full-time study. For more entry-level secretarial positions, a vocational program at executive assistant schools is usually sufficient. These programs last from a few months to two years and are offered by vocational-technical schools and community colleges. Many executive assistants specialize in specific areas, such as legal or medical.

The future for executive assistants

We have good news: the BLS projects en employment growth of 11 per cent for executive assistants (also called exacutive secretaries). Job growth is expected to be particularly solid in a variety of industries, such as scientific and professional services. There is virtually no sector or industry in which executive assistants are not needed, so your options should be wide-ranging.

Do toy factories need executive assistants? How about clothing designers, law firms, non-profits, colleges, medical offices and government contractors? You bet they do! The BLS lists the top-paying industries as the postal service, the computer industry and the federal executive branch. The sectors that have the highest amount of employed professionals on this career path are the financial industry and the real estate business.

Does this ever-changing and always-in-demand profession sound like a good fit for your skills, abilities and interests? If it does, then have a look at the different educational programs available in your area and start working toward a fulfilling and challenging career.

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