There are lots of specific types of secretarial role, supporting a whole range of people in companies and organisations. One of those most easily identifiable types of secretarial role is the personal assistant (PA) or personal/private secretary.
Personal Assistant Jobs
Is it for you?
More than any other role, you need to be cut out to do it. You must be meticulous, well-organised, confident and sometimes willing to work around the clock or travel at the drop of a hat.
In short, you have to follow the life of the executive you are working for and if there job takes them on a non-stop tour of the far east, you’ll have to follow. Working for a high powered executive may simply involve you having to be more efficient, more organised and more business-like than the person you are working for.
You’ll be their indispensible asset and be required to have smoothly organised everything they need – sometimes even when they haven’t asked you to organise it. Just some of the duties you’ll be involved in will involve greeting visitors at all levels of seniority; organising and maintaining diaries and making appointments; attending meetings; liaising with clients, suppliers and other staff. The list is considerable.
Qualifications and Skills
You need the basic secreterial skills such as effective minute taking and shorthand skills and you can imporove upon these by taking any number of relevant courses as you contue working.
Relevant qualifications, which can normally be studied over one or two years can be taken part time such as the Level 3 Private Secretary's Diploma and Level 4 Executive Secretary's Diploma. Pitman Training Qualifications include the Executive PA Diploma and Executive PA Plus Diploma and it is also also possible to take a business administration degree course. Membership of professional bodies such as the Institute of Professional Administrators (IPA) or the Association of Personal Assistants is also useful.
The IPA provides a range of services to members including the IPA Mentoring Scheme, which provides personal career mentoring from an experienced IPA member.
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Opportunities and salaries
Personal assistants (PAs) work in a range of large, medium-sized and small organisations across all sectors including large global companies, and large public funded bodies such as the BBC or the National Health System. PA’s are wanted by almost any busy medium to large business organisation to keep managment and directors on track and functioning effectively.
Naturally, certain industries pay far more than others and if you ever end up working for a self-made tycoon, or the Director of a multi-national company, who relies on your skills, you’ll end up on a salary that could be anything that company wants to pay you.
Starting with less heady roles, a range of typical starting salaries for PAs can start from £21k - £25k rising rapidily to the mid- £30k mark. Salaries depend almost purely on the size and nature of the company and where it is located. In a top London-based finacial institution you could easily earn £50k with a little experience behind you. Additional benefits may include a company pension scheme, season ticket loan, private health insurance, sports or gym membership and subsidised lunches.