If you are the kind of person who is always organized and on the ball, then you might have already considered a career as an executive assistant. This can be an exciting career choice, and it is often a fulfilling option for the right candidate. Since this field can be competitive, the first step in securing your new career should be earning an executive assistant degree.
Discover more about what it takes to succeed in this field, what the executive assistant degree entails, the prerequisites for enrollment and a little more about the career possibilities after graduation.
The Role of an Executive Assistant
Before you apply for a degree program and begin working toward a new career, it is important to get a realistic picture of what being an executive assistant really entails. Just like the name of the position might imply, an executive assistant is a person who assists an executive, which could be the president of a large company, the dean of a university department or a bank branch manager.
An executive assistant typically has a desk or an office immediately next to that of their superior, and they might answer and pass on phone calls or emails.
Part of the job description for an executive assistant is to organize their superior’s schedule. This might include liaising with other executives or assistants to make appointments and meetings, and it could involve traveling with the executive when they leave the office for business-related events.
Working as an executive assistant can be non-stop, and long shifts are not at all uncommon in this line of work. However, executive assistants tend to earn higher salaries than other administrative employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the median salary for an executive assistant in 2012 was $51,870.
Types of Executive Assistant Degrees
When hiring a new executive assistant, there are a number of different things that an employer might be looking for. Without question, one of the biggest things will be a candidate with a formal education. It is increasingly rare to find a well-paid executive assistant without at least an associate degree in a relevant field.
There are three different degree levels that you might want to consider on your path to becoming an executive assistant.
The first is the associate degree, a program that takes two years to complete, on average. While the associate degree may be adequate for some positions, it won’t offer the same lucrative employment opportunities as the full bachelor’s degree.
The bachelor’s takes twice as long to complete, four years, but it is the most preferred level of education among hiring managers looking for executive assistants.
Those candidates who want to secure the best-paid assisting positions for high-ranking politicians or CEOs of international companies might opt to earn their master’s degree, a one to two year program that follows the bachelor’s and allows you to specialize in a niche area within your field.
Standard Curriculum for this Degree Program
When you enroll into the degree program of your choice, whether that is an associate degree in executive assisting or a bachelor’s in executive office administration, the objective will be to prepare students for successful careers after graduation.
Part of that includes becoming well-rounded, which is why many colleges require undergraduate students to take a diverse range of classes like math and history in addition to their major-related subject. Either way, expect the bulk of your degree to be made up of classes that will help your career.
While subjects range from school to school, some of the most common classes include word processing, spreadsheets, business communications, information processing, database study and office administration.
Applying and Enrolling into an Online Degree Program
With a clear picture in your mind about what it takes to become an executive assistant, you might be ready to enroll into the right degree program and head toward your career goals. However, aspiring executive assistants should realize that they first need to apply to a college, get accepted and then enroll.
Each college and university has its own set of prerequisites for students, and these can vary depending on the competitiveness of the particular program. If you are planning to earn an undergraduate degree, you should have a high school degree or the equivalent of a general education degree.
In addition, it will be helpful if you can submit copies of your transcript, you have taken either the SAT or the ACT, you have a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and you participated in sports or extra-curricular activities during your high school career.
Those who want to earn an advanced degree like the master’s should already have their bachelor’s degree in a related field, have at least six months of industry-related work experience and have completed the GRE with suitable scores.
Deciding Between Online and Traditional Colleges
For hundreds of years, college has been associated with a campus environment where all of your classes, lectures and exams are held in a single location. With the rise of the Internet, there is no longer the need to tie yourself of a physical college campus.
Accredited online colleges give students the flexibility they need to pursue an advanced education and still manage family, careers and social obligations. If you need to work at the same time as earning your degree to become an executive assistant, an online degree could be just the thing you need.
You can take exams from the comfort of your own home, watch lectures streaming live from your laptop computer and communicate with your fellow classmates and teaching staff through online college discussion boards.
Skills and Characteristics Found in Successful Executive Assistants
While a college degree is the number one asset to have in hand when you start interviewing for positions as executive assistants, there are also some innate skills and abilities that can be a tremendous help.
Many of the most successful executive assistants across all industries are excellent listeners and writers, which helps them to observe schedule changes, understand directions and instructions and correspond effortlessly with others.
It also helps to be very organized and focused, and those who are calm in the face of change or stress will be especially prepared for this career.
Career Possibilities in the Field
Many people imagine that executive assistants work primarily in corporate or financial environment. While that is often the case, executive assistants can work in nearly any industry imaginable.
You can work as the assistant to a government official, a leading scholar at a university, a politician, a celebrity or a CEO. It all depends on your preferences, ambition and knowledge of different fields.
Earning an executive assistant degree online is one of the best ways to prepare for a new and exciting career in almost any industry. This career can be a fulfilling and fascinating way to earn a living, and it will be perfect for the right organized, well-spoken candidate.