How To Become a Virtual Assistant (With Job Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career as a virtual assistant can provide great flexibility, as they can often set their own schedules and work from their own homes. Virtual assistants can work in almost any industry, so there are typically many jobs in the market to choose from. If you have strong administrative skills and are hoping to find a remote job, you might consider pursuing a career as a virtual assistant. In this article, we consider what working as a virtual assistant can be like and explore a list of steps that can offer information about how to become a virtual assistant.

Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a professional who provides remote services to businesses and individual clients for a fee. Their assistance is usually in administrative or technical capacities. Virtual assistance is a rapidly growing career field because it can offer many benefits both to the assistants and the businesses that employ them. For example, businesses can save money and time by outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants instead of hiring full-time employees or performing the work internally.

Working as a virtual assistant can also provide the flexibility and autonomous control that accompanies remote and freelance work. This is because becoming a virtual assistant doesn't typically require significant experience or an advanced degree, making it an attractive employment option.

How to become a virtual assistant

Here are some steps you can use to learn how to become a virtual assistant:

1. Determine which industry you want to work in

A virtual assistant can find work in almost any industry, so you might think about which types of companies you're interested in working for at the start of your career. This can help you determine what services you can offer, where you might look for employment and which types of projects you enjoy completing. When thinking about which industries you want to work in, you can consider details like the types of clients you might have, the nature of the work you might perform and the skills that can help you succeed.

However, it can be important to remember that a virtual assistant's skills are usually transferrable across several industries, so even if you choose an industry to specialise in, you can still take jobs and clients in other industries that interest you.

2. Choose the services you want to offer and your pricing

Once you know which industry you're interested in working in, you can start determining which services you want to offer. This can help you to target potential clients and secure jobs by knowing which tasks you're able and willing to perform before applying for open positions. For example, if you have very strong writing skills, you might emphasise tasks like drafting newsletters, answering emails and reviewing written documents for accuracy.

While identifying the services you plan to offer, you can also set your prices. As many virtual assistants work on a freelance basis, they often set their own prices so that clients know exactly how much they need to pay before setting up a contract. Some virtual assistants charge hourly, daily or weekly rates, while others get paid per task completed. To set your prices, it can be helpful to research the rates of virtual assistants who already work in the field, as this can help you determine the average amount that might be appropriate to charge.

3. Obtain any necessary equipment

Determining the services you want to offer can also help you prepare for virtual assistant work by identifying the types of equipment you need to perform those services. Some virtual assistants may use only their laptop and cell phone, but depending on the type and the number of tasks you take on, you may need additional computers, monitors or phones. Common equipment a virtual assistant might need to get can include a headset, dedicated landlines and a machine for faxing, printing, copying and scanning.

Additionally, all virtual assistants need a reliable internet connection, so it can sometimes be helpful to have a booster that can improve the performance of your internet router.

4. Look for clients

When you're ready to take on professional projects, you can begin establishing your client base. Because many virtual assistants build their own businesses, you might need to start by accepting small, lower-paying jobs until you gain a few months of experience and receive positive reviews. To find jobs as a virtual assistant, you can search on online freelancing platforms, social media and job listing websites. You can also reach out to businesses you're already familiar with or specific individuals and companies that you want to work for to inquire about their potential administrative needs.

5. Build a portfolio

Because many virtual assistants find their own clients and manage their own promotion and advertising, one effective method of highlighting your work to show potential clients is to build a portfolio. There are a few different ways to create a portfolio, one of which is using an online platform or website to showcase examples of the work you do by uploading files and photographs.

You can also use a section of your portfolio to include customer reviews, which can be especially helpful to virtual assistants who own their own businesses. This is because having positive endorsements from previous customers can emphasise your expertise and confirm that you have strong abilities to succeed at your job.

6. Market yourself

Success as a virtual assistant can often depend on your ability to sell your services, especially if you work primarily on a freelance basis. To market yourself to potential new clients, you can use social media and professional profiles to make yourself and your services accessible online. You can also create your own website to showcase your portfolio and skills to potential clients. As you continue to secure jobs, it can be helpful to focus on building relationships and networking to market yourself further and keep finding new clients to work with.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

What does a virtual assistant do?

A virtual assistant can perform several different job duties depending on the skills they have and the tasks their clients need them to complete. Some common responsibilities that a virtual assistant might have are:

  • Answer, monitor and organise emails

  • Answer, direct and make phone calls

  • Transcribe documents

  • Provide customer support, such as answering questions and processing orders

  • Prepare reports, letters and statements

  • Organise files and documents

  • Make appointments

  • Manage spreadsheets

  • Research content and keywords

  • Data entry

  • Coordinate schedules and calendars

  • Edit and proofread documents

  • Make travel arrangements

  • Order supplies

  • Generate sales leads

  • Perform bookkeeping, billing and accounting activities

  • Screen potential clients and projects

  • Community outreach

  • Engage in email marketing

  • Manage online presence, such as website design and maintenance, social media and professional profiles

  • Create and maintain records

Key skills for a virtual assistant

There are many skills that can help a virtual assistant succeed in their career. Here are some skills that can be essential for a virtual assistant to have:

  • Computer proficiency: virtual assistants use a wide range of computer programs to perform their tasks, so they typically need to be familiar with using the Internet, managing email in-boxes and using cloud-based communication, such as file sharing, password managers and teleconferencing. Proficiency in creating documents, files and spreadsheets can be important as well.

  • Communication: excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary for virtual assistants to contact clients, receive assignments from clients and perform numerous duties, like writing emails and answering phone calls.

  • Customer service: as much of a virtual assistant's job involves helping clients, customer service skills can enhance their abilities to respond to challenges and answer questions with professionalism and patience.

  • Organisation and time management: besides helping clients manage their time by overseeing calendars, schedules and appointments and performing organisational tasks for clients, virtual assistants need to be adept at organising their own tasks and managing their own time. As a virtual assistant, you might accept jobs from multiple clients at once and need to perform them all effectively and on time.

Related: 17 Customer Service Skills: Definitions and Examples

Salary for a virtual assistant

The national average salary for a virtual assistant is currently $58,379 per year. This can be considered a fairly generous base salary. Indeed also shows that some virtual assistant might have the potential to earn higher salaries depending on the city where they live. For example, the average salary for virtual assistants in Sydney, New South Wales is $75,154, which is very competitive.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing.

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