Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant: Which to Hire?

Virtual Assistants (VAs) provide remote support to businesses; they are office administration professionals offering a range of creative or technical services. Most managers with VAs hire them as either administrative assistants (AAs) or executive assistants (EAs). Though you can fill these roles with in-office or in-person staff, you’d greatly benefit from hiring a remote VA, since remote virtual assistants offers plenty of benefits. To hire the best VA for your team, you must know the difference between an executive assistant vs. administrative assistant.

When you have a VA that suits your workflow, you can reduce labor costs, ensure your teams’ productivity, and allow them to focus on the things that matter. When choosing a company to hire for virtual assistance, you can’t go wrong with Wing. Our assistants have English as their first language, are college-educated, and undergo a rigorous testing program. Moreover, they can support businesses in several industries.

Curious about the benefits of getting an executive assistant vs. administrative assistant? Wondering why you should hire Wing VAs? Read on to learn more about both roles, what to look for in an assistant, and how Wing’s services help you get the perfect assistant for your business!

What is an Administrative Assistant?

Most offices have administrative assistants, or at least someone in the company in this role. Typically, they act as office managers, liaisons, bookkeepers, secretaries, and web administrators. However, administrative assistant duties can vary from one business to another.

For example, a law firm might hire a paralegal to become its administrative assistant. It is because paralegals have training and knowledge of the profession. This enables them to handle billing and invoices for lawyer’s clients, prepare court documents, and conduct legal research.

In contrast, an e-commerce company wouldn’t need someone with paralegal training. Instead, they could get an admin assistant for tasks like taking messages, scheduling meetings, recording minutes, handling social media, and sending out memos, among others.

For owners who are hands-on with business development, hiring an administrative assistant is a good option. These professionals are your go-to for laborious but necessary tasks that take you away from projects directly affecting the company’s growth.

What does an Executive Assistant do?

If an admin assistant takes on routine tasks, an executive assistant can do a bit more. Besides handling things that you would delegate to an AA, you can count on an EA to make proactive or strategic decisions that can optimize your team’s operations.

For instance, an EA can go beyond scheduling a meeting; they can implement changes so your workdays only revolve around tasks where you can provide the most value. They optimize several calendars at once and are able to audit your entire team’s current workflow and suggest improvements.

Executive assistants can also handle your team’s official correspondence, but they can do more than send and receive emails. You can count on an EA to manage your inbox completely. They can send messages for travel bookings, plan events, and set up appointments.

Hiring an EA is a great option if you’re a busy owner or work at a company with a complex organizational structure. An EA can take some of the decision-making off your hands and allow you to deal with more urgent matters.

Dealing with items you must offload is one of our specialties at Wing. Our assistants don’t operate in a vacuum; besides managing task queues through our app, Wing VAs have managers who supervise their work and run it through regular quality checks. We also have experts on staff from top consulting firms whom clients can consult about optimizing workflows.

EA vs. AA: What’s the Difference?

So what’s the difference in the services of an executive assistant vs. an administrative assistant? Generally speaking, EAs provide high-level support. They are experts in project management, while admin assistants are more like task managers. 

An EA can accomplish tasks similar to what AAs do. They can also help you with strategies related specifically to their role. An EA could suggest action items to help you reach your goals, tools that can help them do the job, and research solutions independently.

Chart with header, "which VA should I hire?" listing differences between executive assistants and administrative assistants

When choosing between executive assistants vs. administrative assistants, ask yourself what your goals are for hiring one. Do you need someone who can proactively identify areas for growth as they take on part of your workload? Alternatively, would you want to direct people toward a particular vision?

Consider as well the expenses related to hiring an EA or an AA. Hiring an assistant isn’t a one-time deal—you need to be sure that the monthly costs are worth it. Besides the salary you pay them, consider other expenses. For instance, you will also spend on software subscriptions needed so your EA can perform their duties well.

Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant Salary

Personal assistants’ rates vary. An entry-level, office-based administrative assistant’s salary typically starts at $13 per hour in the United States. The hourly pay for skilled admin assistants starts at $20 per hour, depending on the state.

Meanwhile, a new executive assistant’s salary averages $15 to $30 per hour for standard services, and their rates reach upwards of $75 per hour. These EAs have experience in industries like finance or web development. 

Your options expand when you consider remote virtual assistance. Many companies offer remote office assistant services on a per-hour basis, charging an average of $38 per hour. It seems like a good deal, except that at this price, you’ll be spending more than $3,000 per month if you want to hire a part-time assistant. Other companies offer lower-priced plans at $449, but with limited inclusions like only having 12 hours of task work per month.

Wing’s most affordable plan, which only costs $6.24 per hour, gives you 4 hours of work per day, from Monday to Friday, with a 5-minute response time guarantee. This plan provides access to a dedicated assistant who will complete task queues and whose work goes through regular quality assurance. 

Meanwhile, our Pro plan provides 2 assistants who will be available to do tasks 8 hours a day, from Monday to Friday, with a 3-minute response time guarantee. With 2 people working 8 hours each, it means you’re getting an hourly rate of only $4.68 per assistant!

Skills Required for Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant

Besides the cost of hiring a remote office assistant, one of your main concerns would be how they can mesh with your team. Virtual assistants must have skills relevant to the team they’re supporting, but they should also display “soft” skills that allow them to do their jobs better. Generally speaking, all assistants should have the following:

  1. Time management – Often, business owners have various commitments, both inside and outside the company. An assistant should know how to “manage up,” choose which meetings and projects to prioritize, and set up an efficient schedule for business leaders. 
  2. Communication – Both EAs and AAs need to have great interpersonal skills. They must know how to speak with people at different levels of seniority, relate well with them, and clearly convey updates or requests. 
  3. Research – Assistants must know how to retrieve information from different sources, and they should be able to distill what they find into a readily digestible format.
  4. Project management – An AA or an EA must know how to break down large and complex tasks into simpler ones. They must have great attention to detail and keep stakeholders posted on the progress of an initiative.
  5. Problem-solving – Assistants must know how to identify the best course of action given limited data. They should be able to suggest or make adjustments to projects without needing to involve their manager.
  6. Empathy – All EAs and AAs should be empathic. They must understand their boss or client’s needs and transform these into action items.
  7. Adaptability – Finally, an assistant should know how to switch gears when necessary. Businesses can move quickly, and EAs or AAs should keep pace with their client’s changing needs.

Besides the qualities mentioned above, executive assistants should also be good at leadership, conscientiousness, and networking. EAs can act as chiefs of staff, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, and company leaders often rely on them to make decisions on their behalf. So, it is crucial that they know how to decide the way a business owner would.

Where to Find the Most Qualified Administrative Assistants

If you’re convinced of the pros of hiring a VA and already know the difference between an executive assistant vs. an administrative assistant, your next question would likely be where you can find a qualified AA or EA.

Firstly, you can go to freelancer marketplaces and post an advertisement there. An advantage of finding a remote admin assistant through a freelancer platform is that you’ll get plenty of responses. 

However, it’s a double-edged sword; you’ll have to sift through dozens of applications before finding the best one. Posting to role-specific boards ensures that you have a somewhat qualified pool of applicants. It could take you longer to get responses, though. 

How to Hire a Remote Administrative Assistant

Time isn’t a luxury that many businesses have. Instead of hiring a remote virtual assistant yourself, you can turn to Wing. We have a rigorous screening and training process for the assistants we onboard, and we ensure that they have the work environment they need to do top-notch work.

Where to Find a Great Executive Assistant

Finding great EAs is even more challenging since they’ll need to have extensive industry knowledge as well as managerial skills. Most people who fit the bill will be employed or have long-term contracts. 

You could try posting to office support job boards, like how you would for an AA. Note, though, that results will vary greatly. Finding someone with the right mix of skills would need more time and effort than most business owners or managers would likely have.

How to Hire a Remote Executive Assistant

Instead of spending days and weeks screening potential EAs, hire Wing. One of our priorities is providing top-notch service, and our remote assistants always go above and beyond to help our clients.

Besides having managed and trained remote assistants, Wing customers can leverage the company’s experts. We have former consultants from top consulting firms like McKinsey, SAP, and Deloitte, with whom our clients can book sessions for free.

Wing Assistants – Managed, Trained, Dedicated Assistants at $799/mo

Time is the most valuable resource for managers and business owners. If you’re in upper or middle management, having an assistant will make you very efficient. A good VA can handle everything for you, from scheduling and individual tasks to communications and entire projects, helping you cover more bases than you could on your own.

Do things that matter and delegate your busy work to Wing. Our dedicated and managed human assistants go through a rigorous screening and training process to ensure that they can provide a level of service comparable to in-house support staff. Let’s talk about why Wing is perfect for you and why you should get started with us today!

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