What is a Virtual Assistant?
Are you interested in a career that’s a little outside the box—and outside the office? Virtual assistants pursue careers for themselves outside the limitations of a traditional office setting. Virtual Assistant Training Online can come in many forms including; associates degrees, bachelors, masters, doctorates and certificate programs.
It’s pretty hard to figure out how to jump start a career as a virtual assistant if you’re murky on exactly what is a virtual assistant (or VA). Well, a VA is essentially an assistant who doesn’t need to be present in the office. Virtual assistants are largely considered independent contractors—they are not employed by one company and can possibly take on as many clients as they want. According to a survey by VA Networking[i], the majority of virtual assistants (62%) have 1 to 4 clients at the same time. That seems to be the popular target amount of clients, with about 21% of VA’s having 5 to 7 clients and about 10% of VA’s working for 8 to 10 clients.
One aspect of a career as a virtual assistant that some people find appealing is the ability to work from home. That may be why this career attracts women and men who are raising small children but also have the skills and desire to earn income from home. In fact, VA Networking’s survey found that 76% of virtual assistants have children and 97% of VA’s are women. In terms of their education background, 59% of virtual assistants polled have a college/trade school background and 53% acquired on-the-job training. Twenty percent took part in an Virtual Assistant Training Online program in order to gain skills and knowledge that may have helped them break into this field.
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Virtual Assistant Services
So who might require virtual assistant services? There are different types of virtual assistants, so not every virtual assistant does the same thing for every one of their clients. A virtual personal assistant might help someone very busy to complete tasks such as answering emails and planning events. A virtual real estate assistant might provide support services to real estate agents who are in the field. And a virtual dating assistant might create a profile and respond to messages for someone who doesn’t have the time to online date. Of the VA’s polled, it was almost an even split between those who “niche market” their services (43.4%) and those who don’t (56.5%).
Calling All Virtual Assistants
There are plenty of reasons that people decide to go this career route, and how to pursue a career as a virtual assistant is really based on a person’s specific career goals and experiences. ‘Flexible hours’ was a reason that 79% of VA’s went into the field; the second most popular reason was the desire to own one’s own business. Other reasons for pursuing a career as a virtual assistant include ‘gaining independence,’ ‘working from home with children,’ and ‘working outside the corporate world.’
It took one month for 31% of VA’s polled to get their first paying client, so some who are just starting out may need to volunteer some of their virtual assistant services to gain a client base, strengthen their professional network, and develop their skill set. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s possible to pursue a career as an administrative assistant with a high school diploma, but for executive positions, some employers may prefer to hire candidates with who have some college experience or a bachelor’s degree[ii] .
No matter what your reason for wanting to pursue a career as a virtual assistant, consider your education options. You may want to explore an online business administration program to learn some of the skills that go into being a great assistant, virtual and otherwise!
Sources: [i] Virtual Assistant Networking Association at vanetworking.com | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm#tab-4