An Executive Assistant provides high-level support to the senior leadership of a company. Like an administrative assistant, an EA will answer phone calls, schedule appointments, take notes during meetings, and make travel arrangements for the boss. But an Executive Assistant also handles additional duties such as preparing reports, conducting research, ensuring projects move along, and overseeing administrative assistants. To become an EA, you need business knowledge, administrative skills, and finely-honed soft skills.
Do You Need a Degree to Become an Executive Assistant?
Executive Assistants are gatekeepers to power, often standing between an executive and everyone who wants to meet with them. It’s an important role that requires a unique set of skills including the ability to communicate well with all types of people, while being professional and discrete. The role carries a lot of responsibility. That’s why more and more employers ask that EAs hold at least an associate degree; and many want you to have a bachelor’s degree in business.
Enroll in a Business Training Program
CEOs and other company leaders rely on their EAs to manage their calendars, take notes and messages, make travel plans, build itineraries, prepare reports, and much more. The more you know about how businesses run, the more valuable you will be to your boss and the company.
Business Degree Program
An associate or bachelor’s degree in business administration can provide you with critical skills that can help you be an effective Executive Assistant. You’ll learn the fundamentals of business in the classroom so you won’t need to be taught when you get on the job. Among the areas covered will be:
- Global Influences on Business
- Data-Driven Decision Making
- Strategy Development
- Project Management
- Human Resources
- Conflict Resolution
With a deep understanding of how businesses run, you can take tasks off the executive’s plate so they can better focus on managing the company.
Business Certificate Program
If you’re not ready to commit to a four-year degree program just yet, you can acquire knowledge and skills through a Certificate in Business Office Administration program. You’ll be introduced to some basic business concepts and learn about software that is standard in businesses across the country. Some of the areas that should be covered include:
- Business Fundamentals
- Human Relations in Organizations
- Team Management
- Business Law and Ethics
- Project Management
- Technology Fundamentals
- Microsoft Office Suite
The Skills You Need to be an Executive Assistant
To become an EA, you need the kind of abilities that an executive will consider invaluable to their organization. Among the soft skills that will help you do your job well are:
Fine Attention to Detail Good Communication Good organization Problem Solving Time Management Positive Attitude
Start Your Career as an Entry-Level Administrative Assistant
An entry-level Administrative Assistant job is a great way to gain the relevant work experience you’ll need to become an Executive Assistant. Over time, you’ll gain enough confidence to take on more responsibilities. Let your employer know what your career goals are and ask if you can take on more executive-level duties, such as preparing reports, maintaining databases, and performing basic bookkeeping. As you expand your responsibilities, you may also want to add to your education.
Gain Business Experience to Become an Executive Assistant
EAs are top Administrative Assistants. If you want to get there, you’ll likely need years of experience as an Administrative Assistant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Executive Assistants need several years of relevant work experience in addition to their training. As you work through your certificate program, start to look for opportunities that can provide you with that experience. Maybe you start by job shadowing some executive assistants at your school or at a local business. Or maybe you volunteer to assist with light administrative work at a nonprofit. Each opportunity will allow you to learn more and sharpen your skills. It will also boost your resume so by the time you complete your program, you will be better ready for hire.
An entry-level administrative assistant position can help you climb the ladder toward an executive assistant job. Attend job fairs, including virtual events, to connect with people in the industry and learn about open opportunities. You can also look at online job boards such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter or set up a LinkedIn profile and search for jobs there. An administrative assistant’s job is very similar, so the knowledge and skills you acquire will greatly serve you in your dream job.
At Charter College, our Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration degree completion program is designed for professionals who already have a related certification, and it can be completed in as few as five months. We also offer a Certificate in Business Office Administration that can get you started. Call us today at 888-200-9942 to find out how we can help you start your career.