What is the difference between a PA and an EA?

People often ask what is the difference between a PA and an EA.  Initially i was not aware of the differences In my role talking to PA’s and EA’s most days now I have spoken to reception and admin staff and also many PA’s and EA’s.

PA – Personal Assistant

A PA usually reports to a senior manager or department head. working each day to look after items that will leave the senior manager or department head more time to focus on the larger issues the company is facing.  Common tasks include managing appointments, booking flights, HR, reporting and taking first phone calls only putting through calls that need to be handled by the more senior person. Experienced PA’s will handle 95% of calls freeing up valuable time for the manager.

A PA can expect to be paid from $40,000 to $90,000 looking at available jobs online today.


EA – Executive Assistant

An EA generally manages much higher duties than a PA. having said this there are many PA’s who could easily have the title EA based on the work they do each day. Today an EA will typically hold a degree or two or have more than 10 years experience in the role. An EA usually reports to an executive, CEO, managing director, chief executive etc. An EA will often do many of the same jobs a PA will do and in some cases have their own assistant to ensure the executive is completely free from many items that otherwise would take away the time of the executive to complete his/her core job. An EA can often take on much more than just managing the executive, through the skills an exceptional EA has they can also find themselves taking on major roles within the company.

An EA in the absence of the senior executive will often have many of the same decision making powers of the executive, this trust is typically built over a long period of time working together. I was in a meeting just recently organized by the EA who was also the HR Adviser to the company.

Typically an EA will receive much higher pay than an PA having a degree or two certainly helps. Googling current jobs for EA’s and I can see annual salary from $55,000 to more than $130,000 for an EA with more than 10 years of EA experience.

VA – virtual Assistant

More recently we have seen the emergence of the Virtual Assistant. A virtual assistant generally does many of the tasks of a PA but the work is done online and away from the physical business address. If you become a virtual assistant you open up the opportunity to have multiple customers and also the ability to be completely flexible with your work. The emergence of the virtual assistant opens the doors for stay at home mums who still want to participate in the workforce but participate in their own time frame around managing the kids.

No matter which position you have these roles can determine the success of the person being managed. Managed well and a manager or executive will have the ability to grow the role, department or business making significant impact on future opportunities.

What role do you have and why do you enjoy it so much?

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