How To Become a Virtual Assistant (With Little to No Experience)

Updated June 29, 2023

Image description

A virtual assistant speaks into a headset next to a list with the title "What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?" and these job duties:

• Complete administrative tasks from a remote location
• Manage email accounts
• Schedule calls and meetings
• Make travel arrangements

Virtual assistants provide vital remote administrative and technical services to companies and clients. Being a virtual assistant is a great career option that offers flexibility, variety and work-life balance in a rapidly growing field.

In this article, we discuss what virtual assistants are and the common tasks they perform, and we explain how you can become one.

Related: 11 Online Jobs for Work Flexibility

What is a virtual assistant and what do they do?

Virtual assistants enjoy the flexibility and independence of remote freelance work that often offers opportunities for entry-level employees. Employers can save time and money by outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants instead of hiring full-time employees or performing the work themselves.

The range of tasks a virtual assistant might perform is diverse and depends on the needs of the client and the skill set of the assistant. Some common tasks a virtual assistant might accept are:

  • Monitor and maintain email accounts, including email marketing tasks

  • Answer and initiate phone calls on behalf of clients

  • Handle travel arrangements, manage schedules

  • Provide customer support, such as answering questions and processing orders

  • Transcribe documents, data entry and spreadsheet management

  • Organize files and documents

  • Prepare reports and presentations, edit and proofread, SEO research

  • Bookkeeping, billing and accounting activities

  • Manage online social media presence and professional profiles

  • Order supplies

Related: What Is Telecommuting?

7 steps to becoming a virtual assistant

If you are interested in beginning a career or having a side job as a virtual assistant, try these steps to get started:

1. Identify your skills

The first step to becoming a virtual assistant is determining which skills are your strengths. A resume that highlights your administrative abilities will show employers that you’re qualified to do the job, even if you have minimal experience. The most common skills a virtual assistant needs include:

  • Computer proficiency: Virtual assistants use a wide range of computer programs to perform their tasks. They need to be familiar with using the internet, managing email inboxes and using cloud-based communication, such as file sharing, password managers and teleconferencing. Proficiency in creating documents, files and spreadsheets is important as well.

  • Communication: Excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary for virtual assistants to contact clients, receive assignments from clients and perform numerous duties, such as customer support and creating records.

  • Editorial skills: It’s important to turn in written work that is free of typos and grammatical errors, so virtual assistants should have strong editorial skills. They should also be comfortable with doing light research and typing documents.

  • Organization and time management: Besides helping clients manage their time by overseeing calendars, schedules and appointments and performing organizational tasks for clients, virtual assistants need to be adept at organizing their own tasks and managing their own time. As a virtual assistant, you might accept jobs from multiple clients at once and need to perform them all effectively and on time.

2. Define the services you'll offer and your pricing structure

You can better target potential clients and earn jobs by knowing beforehand what tasks you can and are willing to perform. Besides identifying your services, you should also determine your fees. Some virtual assistants charge hourly, daily or weekly rates, while others get paid per task completed.

3. Obtain any necessary equipment

Determining the services you'll offer will also help you determine the kind of equipment you’ll need to perform those services. Some virtual assistants may use only their laptop and cell phone, but depending on the type of work and the number of tasks you accept, you may need additional computers, monitors or phones. Common equipment a virtual assistant may need includes a headset, dedicated landlines, and a machine for printing, copying and scanning. All virtual assistants need a reliable internet connection.

Related: Best Home Office Organization Ideas

4. Search for jobs

Begin your career as a virtual assistant by getting clients. You may need to start by accepting small, lower-paying jobs until you build experience and positive reviews. You can also refer to your professional network for job openings or search job listings online.

Related: Browse Virtual Assistant Jobs

5. Build a portfolio

As you gain virtual assistant experience, ask your clients for feedback and build a portfolio of customer reviews and examples of your work. Creating this portfolio will likely help you gain more clients and better-paying jobs by showcasing your skills.

6. Market yourself

Success as a virtual assistant depends on your ability to sell your services. Use social media and professional profiles to make yourself visible online. You can create your own website to showcase your portfolio and skills to potential clients. As you continue to gain jobs, focus on building relationships and networking.

7. Consider a specialization

Virtual assistants can increase their pay rate and client retention by focusing on a niche market. Consider developing a specific skill and marketing yourself as an expert in that area. Possible areas of specialization include email marketing, customer support, managing social media and website design.

How much does a virtual assistant make?

The national average salary for virtual assistants is $25.10 per hour, and salaries range from $7.25 to $37.50 per hour. Virtual assistants can increase their income and earning potential by building a steady clientele and specializing in niche services. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link above.

How do you find a virtual assistant job online?

The internet is a great place to start your search for a virtual assistant job. Indeed lets you search for virtual assistant jobs in any geographic location, even including remote roles. Simply type your preferred location or “remote” in the “Where” search box and then click “Find jobs” to see your results. You can even set up a job alert by typing your email address in the box beneath the search bar.

For more tips, please read our helpful search guide.

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