CAREER PATHWAYS

Looking for the perfect job?
Explore our Career Guides!

Read More

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

By Ajoke Aminu

Published:

Do you want to become a virtual assistant and make money from home but don’t know where to start? In our step-by-step guide, we’ll explore the steps to take and the skills you need to become a successful virtual assistant and earn an income online!

Career Summary

Virtual Assistant Salary

Virtual Assistant Salary

The virtual assistant salary trajectory in the United States includes:

  • Entry Salary (US$30k)
  • Median Salary (US$44k)
  • Executive Salary (US$55k)

In one sentence, this salary falls into the low-income bracket compared to the general average income of US citizens, which was $61,900 in 2022.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is a person who provides remote administrative, technical, or creative support to businesses or individuals. Virtual assistants work remotely, using communication tools and online collaboration platforms to complete their tasks and maintain effective communication with their clients.

What does a Virtual Assistant do?

The tasks performed by virtual assistants can vary depending on the client’s needs but often include administrative duties, project management, customer support, social media management, research, content creation, and more.

Virtual Assistant Career Progression

  • Entry Level Virtual Assistant: Assists with basic administrative tasks, such as data entry, email management, scheduling appointments, and document organization.
  • Administrative Virtual Assistant: Manages administrative duties, including email and calendar management, file organization, travel arrangements, and basic bookkeeping.
  • Specialization: Virtual assistants can specialize in specific areas, such as social media management, content creation, graphic design, bookkeeping, project management, or any other niche that aligns with their interests and abilities
  • Executive Virtual Assistant: Provides high-level support to executives or business owners, handling complex administrative tasks, managing projects, coordinating teams, and acting as a gatekeeper for communication.
Virtual Assistant Career Progression

Pros:

  • Flexibility to set your own schedule and work remotely.
  • Variety of tasks and opportunities to work with different clients.
  • Potential for career growth and specialization.
  • Opportunity to gain diverse skills and expand professional network.
  • Independence and the choice to work autonomously.

Cons:

  • Potential for isolation or lack of in-person interaction.
  • Balancing multiple clients/projects can be demanding or worse, challenging. 
  • Uncertainty in income stability, especially for freelancers.
  • Constant need for self-motivation and self-discipline.

Must-have Virtual Assistant Skills

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Proficiency in computer applications and online tools.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Multitasking, organizational, time management, and prioritization skills.
  • Problem-solving and decision-making abilities.

Popular Virtual Assistant Specialties

  • Research and Data Analysis
  • Social Media Management—including content writing and editing, and graphic design and video editing
  • Project Management
  • Customer, Marketing and PR Support
  • Bookkeeping and Accounting

How to become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant 5 Steps to Career

Virtual assisting is a popular career path that allows you to work from the comfort of your own home. Being a VA is a great place to start if you’re looking for a fulfilling career that doesn’t require an academic degree, as a high school diploma is the typical educational requirement in a virtual assistant job description. However, having a degree can give you a leg up on the competition and help you command higher rates.

That being said, there are plenty of successful virtual assistants out there who have no formal education at all. So, how do you decide which route to take? Consider your strengths, passions, and career goals, alongside the important factors below.

With Degree—Steps, Costs & Timelines

Although it is not a strict requirement for entering the field of virtual assistance, having a degree can certainly be beneficial and may enhance your credibility. Also, if you’re looking to specialize, investing in a relevant bachelor’s or associate degree would give you a competitive edge. So, if you’re on the fence about pursuing a degree, take some time to consider these potential benefits and decide if it’s the right path for you:

  • A degree can enhance your credibility and demonstrate a commitment to professional development.
  • Pursuing a degree exposes you to various subjects related to business administration, project management, communication, and more, providing a well-rounded skill set.
  • Degree programs often include practical assignments and projects that allow you to develop and refine your skills.
  • While pursuing a degree, you gain access to resources such as libraries, research databases, and academic journals, supplementing your learning and providing a competitive edge.
  • Earning a degree requires commitment, self-discipline, and time management skills, which are essential qualities for success as a virtual assistant.

Thus, you might want to brush up on any of the most common areas of study for virtual assistants—communication, business administration, accounting, or psychology degrees. They provide a strong foundation for the wide variety of tasks you might be asked to tackle. So, whether you’re a communications expert, a business whiz, or a psychology buff, you can easily become a virtual assistant. If you’re considering pursuing an education to become a virtual assistant, here’s how you can go about it:

Research Relevant Degree Programs

Look for degree programs that align with your career goals and offer courses or majors related to administrative support, business administration, or similar fields. Explore universities, colleges, or online institutions that offer these programs.

Consider the Timelines

The time it takes to earn a degree can vary depending on factors such as the type of degree, the educational institution, and the student’s enrollment status. An associate’s degree typically takes around two years of full-time study, providing a foundational education in business administration or a related field. A bachelor’s degree, which offers a more comprehensive education, often takes four years of full-time study. Accelerated programs, on the other hand, compress the curriculum for a faster completion time.

Evaluate the Curriculum

Review the courses offered in the degree program you’re considering. Look for courses that cover topics such as project management, organizational skills, communication, technology proficiency, and other relevant areas. Ensure that the curriculum provides a well-rounded education that will prepare you for the virtual assistant profession.

Seek Financial Aid and Scholarships

Considering that the cost of a virtual assistant’s education can tip over US$50,000, having these options in your arsenal is certainly a good idea. Research financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, and loans, to help fund your education.

Without Degree—Online Education & Skills Development

Becoming a virtual assistant through online education is indeed possible. There has never been a more opportune moment to put your time management skills to the test while navigating virtual instruction. With the rise of remote work, the demand for virtual assistants has increased, making it a viable career option. Online education or remote learning has made it easier than ever to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful virtual assistant by implementing the subsequent tips:

Research Reputable and Accredited Online Programs and Certifications

These are just a few of the many courses and certificates available online. You can find more by researching popular online learning platforms, like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning. It’s important to choose the right program, whether it’s a certificate program, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree, and review the course materials and requirements.

You will need to commit to self-discipline and effective time management by creating a study schedule, allocating dedicated time for coursework and staying motivated to complete assignments and exams.

Gain Practical Experience

Virtual Assistant Agencies: Many virtual assistant agencies offer internship programs where you can work alongside experienced virtual assistants. These internships provide hands-on experience in supporting clients, managing tasks, and utilizing virtual assistant tools and software.

  • Remote Work Websites: Explore freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiver, as well as other remote work job boards and websites. While not explicitly designated as internships, you can find entry-level positions or opportunities that allow you to learn and grow in a virtual assistant capacity.
  • Local Businesses and Entrepreneurs: Approach local businesses or entrepreneurs who may benefit from virtual assistance. Propose an internship arrangement where you can work remotely, providing virtual support and gaining practical experience while assisting them with their administrative tasks.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofits often require virtual assistance for various administrative tasks, such as email management, research, and social media support. Reach out to nonprofits in your area or those that operate on a national or international level to inquire about internship opportunities.

Continuously Update Your Skills

As a virtual assistant, you should continuously update your skills to stay relevant, remain competitive in the market, and adapt to technological advancements and industry trends. Let’s explore the essential skills that every successful virtual assistant should have.

  • Administrative Support: Virtual assistants are proficient in various administrative tasks, such as managing emails, scheduling appointments, organizing documents, data entry, and handling travel arrangements.
  • Communication: Excellent communication skills are essential for virtual assistants. You will learn how to effectively communicate with clients, team members, and customers through email, phone calls, video conferencing, and other digital communication channels.
  • Time Management: Virtual assistants must manage multiple tasks, prioritize effectively, and meet deadlines. You will learn how to optimize your time, set realistic goals, and stay organized in a remote work environment.
  • Technology Proficiency: As a virtual assistant, you will work with a range of digital tools and software. You will develop proficiency in tools such as project management software, cloud storage platforms, and communication tools.
  • Research Skills: Virtual assistants often perform research to gather information, conduct market analysis, or identify industry trends. You will learn effective research techniques and how to analyze and present information to support client needs.
  • Customer Service: Many virtual assistants handle customer inquiries, provide support, and manage client relationships. You will learn how to deliver exceptional customer service and handle various customer interactions professionally.
  • Social Media Management: Some virtual assistants specialize in social media management. You may learn how to create and curate content, schedule posts, engage with audiences, analyze social media metrics, and implement social media strategies.
  • Basic Bookkeeping: Virtual assistants may be responsible for basic bookkeeping tasks, such as tracking expenses, invoicing, and managing financial records. You may learn fundamental bookkeeping skills or use software tools to assist in financial management.
  • Problem-Solving: Virtual assistants encounter various challenges and problem-solving opportunities. You will develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address issues that may arise in your client’s projects or daily operations.
  • Adaptability and Continuous Learning: As a virtual assistant, you will adapt to different client requirements, industries, and evolving technologies. You will learn to embrace continuous learning, stay updated with industry trends, and expand your skill set to meet client demands.

Explore Popular Tools and Resources for Virtual Assistants Focusing on Specific Areas

Social Media Management
  • Hootsuite: A social media management platform that allows you to schedule posts, monitor social media activity, and analyze performance across multiple social media platforms.
  • Buffer: Another popular social media management tool that helps you schedule and publish content, analyze performance, and engage with followers.
  • Canva: A graphic design tool with pre-designed templates and easy-to-use features for creating visually appealing social media posts and graphics.
Content Writing and Editing
  • Grammarly: An online writing assistant that helps you improve grammar, spelling, and writing style.
  • Hemingway Editor: A writing tool that analyzes your writing and provides suggestions for improving readability and clarity.
  • Google Docs: A collaborative document editing tool that allows real-time collaboration and editing with clients or team members.
Project Management
  • Asana: A project management tool that helps you create and manage tasks, track progress, and collaborate with team members.
  • Trello: A visual project management tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize tasks and track project workflows.
  • Microsoft Project: A comprehensive project management software for planning, scheduling, and managing projects with advanced features and tools.
Customer Support
  • Help Scout: A customer support platform that allows you to manage email inquiries, create automated responses, and track customer conversations.
  • Zendesk: A customer service software that provides tools for managing support tickets, live chat, and customer knowledge bases.
  • Freshdesk: A cloud-based help desk software that enables you to track, prioritize, and resolve customer issues across multiple channels.
E-commerce Management
  • Shopify: An e-commerce platform that allows you to set up and manage online stores, process orders, and track inventory.
  • WooCommerce: A WordPress plugin that turns your website into an e-commerce store, providing features for product listings, shopping carts, and payment processing.
  • ShipStation: A shipping and order fulfillment software that helps you manage shipping labels, track packages, and streamline order fulfillment.

What’s the Career Outlook for Virtual Assistants?

Although there are no official predictions for the VA industry, perhaps because it’s a relatively new field, the career outlook for virtual assistants appears promising. The increasing trend of remote work, globalization, and the need for flexible support has contributed to the growing demand for virtual assistant services across industries.

As businesses and individuals increasingly rely on virtual assistants to streamline operations, improve productivity, and enhance customer experience, there are ample opportunities for virtual assistants to thrive and expand their client base.

To capitalize on this favorable career outlook, virtual assistants should continuously update their skills, stay informed about the latest trends and technologies, and provide high-quality services that meet client needs. Building a strong professional reputation, networking, and marketing oneself effectively will be crucial to standing out in the competitive virtual assistant market and securing rewarding career opportunities.

Is there a Work-Life Balance for a Virtual Assistant?

As a virtual assistant, the notion of a traditional 9-5 work-life balance is swiftly thrown out of the window. Virtual assistants can often choose their working hours, providing the opportunity to create a schedule that suits their needs. Unlike traditional office personnel, virtual assistants have the freedom to work from their preferred location–a coffee shop, a library, or even on a beach vacation.

Additionally, this flexibility allows for better integration of work and personal life, enabling virtual assistants to attend to personal obligations, pursue hobbies, or spend time with family and friends.

However, this freedom comes with a catch; the need to strike a balance between work and personal life. With the freedom to work remotely, it can be tempting to let work spill into your personal time. Virtual assistants often struggle to separate work from home, so it’s important to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life and set realistic expectations with clients or employers.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a virtual assistant requires effective time management and boundary-setting skills. However, with proper planning and self-discipline, virtual assistants can enjoy the benefits of a flexible work environment while maintaining a satisfying work-life balance.

Virtual Assistant Popular Career Specialties

Virtual Assistant Job Opportunities

  • Administrative Assistant: The administrative and virtual assistant job description are quite similar except that the latter is usually remote. Many businesses and professionals need virtual assistants to handle administrative tasks such as managing emails, scheduling appointments, data entry, and organizing files.
  • Social Media Manager: Virtual assistants with expertise in social media can help businesses manage their online presence, create content, schedule posts, engage with followers, and analyze social media performance.
  • Customer Support Representative: Virtual assistants can provide customer support services, such as responding to inquiries, resolving issues, and providing information to customers through email, chat, or phone.
  • Content Writer or Editor: Virtual assistants with strong writing and editing skills can assist with creating and proofreading content for websites, blogs, social media, or marketing materials.
  • Research Assistant: Virtual assistants can conduct online research, gather data, compile reports, and summarize information for businesses or individuals.
  • Project Manager: Virtual assistants can assist with project management tasks, such as creating timelines, coordinating team members, monitoring progress, and organizing project-related documents.
  • E-commerce Assistant: Businesses involved in online selling often require virtual assistants to manage product listings, process orders, handle customer inquiries, and assist with inventory management.
  • Personal Assistant: Individuals may hire virtual assistants to manage their personal tasks, such as making travel arrangements, managing personal schedules, conducting online shopping, and handling personal correspondence.
  • Virtual Event Planner: Virtual assistants with event planning skills can assist with organizing virtual events, webinars, conferences, or workshops, including tasks like coordinating logistics, managing registrations, and facilitating communication.
  • Transcriptionist or Translator: Virtual assistants proficient in transcription or translation can provide services to businesses or individuals requiring written documentation or translation of audio or written content.

The Types of Companies that Hire Virtual Assistants

  • Entrepreneurial Clients: Many entrepreneurs and small business owners hire virtual assistants to handle administrative tasks, email management, scheduling, social media management, customer support, and other operational responsibilities. These clients appreciate the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of virtual assistants.
  • Executives and busy Professionals: Executives often hire virtual assistants to assist with their workload, manage their calendars, coordinate meetings and travel arrangements, handle correspondence, and perform research tasks. Virtual assistants can support high-level executives and professionals across different industries.
  • Online Businesses: E-commerce businesses, online coaches, consultants, and digital entrepreneurs often rely on virtual assistants for a range of tasks such as order processing, inventory management, website maintenance, content creation, social media marketing, and customer service.
  • Creative Professionals: Virtual assistants can support creative professionals such as authors, artists, musicians, and photographers by managing their administrative tasks, coordinating events or exhibitions, organizing promotional materials, and providing general assistance to help them focus on their creative work.
  • Real Estate Agents: Real estate agents often hire virtual assistants to handle various administrative tasks, manage listings, organize client databases, coordinate showings, and assist with marketing and advertising efforts.
  • Professional Services Firms: Accounting, legal, and consulting firms can benefit from virtual assistants who assist with document preparation, client communication, scheduling, data entry, research, and other administrative tasks specific to their industry.

Should I become a Virtual Assistant?

There’s no doubt that being a virtual assistant has its perks, but is it the right career path for you? Don’t just jump into the world of virtual assistance blindly. Take time to evaluate the key points discussed in this article. Consider them carefully alongside your personal interests and skills, and long-term goals.

You might find yourself easily drawn to this exciting field, with its flexible hours and potential to work from anywhere in the world. However, like any profession, it has its challenges. Taking the time to figure out if it’s the right fit for you will ensure your success as a virtual assistant.

By being informed and knowledgeable about what you’re getting into, you can achieve success and have fun while doing it. So, should you become a virtual assistant? Only you can answer that question, but one thing’s for sure, making an informed decision is key to your future happiness and success.

Related Articles:


Ajoke Aminu

About the Author

Read more articles by Ajoke Aminu


Create a Professional Resume for free!

No-sign up or payment required.