Many people are under the impression that an executive assistant and a secretary are the same person and have the same job description. This however is not true. There are definitely some similarities between the two but being an EA carries a whole lot more prestige than a secretary or office assistant would. A secretary or office assistant completes administrative and office duties and tasks for numerous controllers. Duties may include screening telephone calls, taking down and passing on messages, welcoming and directing visitors, computer work, filing, and faxing and maybe even take minutes in a meeting. A general knowledge of computer software is required as well as accurate typing skills and strong communication skills. Some companies may require a secretarial course certificate and a variety of qualifications but some are a little more lenient and will only require experience and a high school diploma.
The executive assistant may also perform some of theses duties however their work load is defiantly more than the standard office assistant. An EA works almost exclusively for one company executive (management) but may work for more and has the ability to perform duties and make decisions that affect the success or direction of a business and is therefore a resource in policymaking and setting procedures in place. The EA performs the typical roles of managing the company executive’s correspondence and preparing research for meetings. The EA also has an extensive knowledge of what is required of the company executive (job description) and it is with this knowledge and understanding that the assistant is able to schedule appointments, meetings or events when it is most convenient on the executive’s time. An EA may act as a proxy for the executives, representing him/her or them in meetings.
Executive assistants are at times expected to do market research and collect statistical reports for executives to use in meetings where important business decisions are being made. Subsequently the reports may possibly impact the course of the company so therefore EAs must have a thorough understanding of business concepts and the company’s long term goals.
The EA may have low-level office assistants that work under them. Due to the extensive work load of the EA, extra assistance may be required from the administrative assistants. These are usually duties that do not require vast knowledge or responsibility such as replying to an email, filing, data capturing answering a phone or taking a message. An executive assistant may be required to travel with their executives therefore the ability of delegating standard tasks to office assistants are a must. Due to the fact that EAs have such an immense knowledge and understanding of the company’s executive’s needs and responsibilities, they are often obliged to train incoming office/administrative assistants.
Because an executive assistant provides a higher level of support to executives in a corporation or business and performs duties that may have an effect on the success or direction of a business, they are required to have a higher level of business acumen (insight). A Bachelor’s degree in Business, four or more years of directly related administrative experience; secretarial experience; a secretarial diploma may be required when applying for an EA position.