What Is a Virtual Assistant? (With Skills and Requirements)

Updated July 25, 2023

Side view of a person working from home and participating in a video meeting.

If you're looking for a job in administration, you might consider a career as a virtual assistant. This specially-trained office personnel can help a company's executive team with various tasks and have a multitude of skills that make them versatile and valuable. Understanding what a virtual assistant is and what they do can help you decide if this career is the right choice for you.

In this article, we discuss what virtual assistants are, their typical duties and the average salary and review what the requirements are to become one, including their typical work environment.

Key takeaways

  • A virtual assistant is a remote employee who completes a variety of tasks to support an organization.

  • Virtual assistants may specialize in certain types of tasks, such as social media management or administrative tasks.

  • Most virtual assistant jobs are entry-level positions, but earning a certification or developing a specialty may help you find more job opportunities.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a remote administrative contractor who typically helps with office management duties but can also assist with a variety of content, social, design, marketing and other media-related business responsibilities. They can have various duties in the workplace that may vary based on factors like:

  • The industry of their employer

  • The scope of their responsibilities within the company

  • The certifications, training or experience they have

Read more: What Is a Virtual Assistant? A Definitive Guide

What does a virtual assistant do?

A virtual assistant completes administrative tasks from a remote location. The specific duties of a virtual assistant can vary from administrative to technical, depending on the person's skill set. Virtual assistants can work as independent contractors or with staffing agencies. Some assistants work with one company while others contract with different employers simultaneously.

While organizations may have different expectations for virtual assistants, some tasks that they perform include:

Administrative support

Virtual assistants most commonly help with administrative tasks, and these may vary greatly among different organizations. Examples of these tasks include answering phone calls, scheduling meetings, reminding people about deadlines and events, making travel arrangements and ordering supplies.

Customer service

Organizations may hire virtual assistants to be their customers' first point of contact for help. Virtual assistants may complete customer support tasks like listening to feedback, providing simple solutions, troubleshooting issues and giving instructions for routine issues, and they may escalate more complex concerns to others within the company.

Social media management

Virtual assistants may help with the day-to-day tasks of social media management. This includes responding to comments and posting content in accordance with a schedule.

Email marketing

Companies may rely on virtual assistants to create and deploy their email marketing campaigns. Assistants may also reply to customer messages, monitor the effectiveness of campaigns and prepare reports for the company.

Basic bookkeeping

Virtual assistants who have finance or accounting skills may perform basic bookkeeping activities. This may include managing a budget, tracking expenses, creating statements and verifying payroll information.

Data entry

Data entry is a specialized administrative task that virtual assistants may complete, especially if they work in areas like school administration or patient billing. They may gather information, evaluate the accuracy of data and delete outdated or irrelevant information.


Virtual assistants with data analysis skills may research topics for companies. This includes gathering relevant information, interpreting it to gain key insights and learning about the organizations' competitors.


A company may hire a virtual assistant to create transcriptions for them. This may involve the virtual assistant attending the meeting to take notes or listening to a recording to type everything said.

Content management

Virtual assists may support a company's content efforts, including managing the production calendar, publishing new content or gathering resources for new content. Those with writing skills may also write blogs for the company, such as holiday-themed content or articles about other topics of interest for their readers.

Website management

Website management tasks may be available for virtual assistants with the appropriate technical skills. They may complete tasks like performing basic updates to websites or posting new content.

Read more: 114 Tasks Virtual Assistants Can Handle for a Company

Average salary of a virtual assistant

A virtual assistant's salary depends upon a variety of factors, including education and experience level. Virtual assistants who are independent contractors may have a higher salary than those who work for an agency. Duties performed can also affect wages. The typical salary for a virtual assistant is around $80,414 per year. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Related: 20 High-Paying Virtual Assistant Jobs for Beginners

Virtual assistant requirements

Virtual assistants require a combination of education, training and skills to perform their jobs. While there may be common expectations, the precise nature of these requirements can depend on the type of work each virtual assistant performs. Here are some common requirements for becoming a virtual assistant:


Many virtual assistants can find work with a high school diploma, though some employers prefer a bachelor's or associate's degree, especially if the assistant performs specialized tasks. Depending on the type of work, a virtual assistant can get a degree in a variety of fields, including marketing, business administration or communication. If you want to take on more responsibilities, consider a bachelor's degree in business management.


There are many training courses available online for virtual assistants. You can take courses in word processing, spreadsheets, databases, business and management. Training is also available in social media management, graphic design and basic website building. There are also virtual assistant training courses available that teach basic administrative skills and ways to perform them remotely.

Training courses may be available at local community colleges or online. Courses can last a few days to several weeks, depending on the topic. Virtual assistants can take a variety of different training courses to make them more attractive candidates.

Related:: 34 Online Training Programs To Advance Your Career


A quality virtual assistant has several basic soft and hard skills, including:

Computer skills

It's important to be proficient in word processing, email and using the internet, particularly for research. Proficiency with virtual conferencing and video chatting is also a highly desirable skill.

Read more: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples


If you're answering calls, it's essential to be able to speak clearly, listen well and present information. Most work also requires good writing skills, especially if you update websites or handle business correspondence.


For a virtual assistant, being organized is an important function in completing tasks on time. If your work requires you to maintain calendars and manage administrative work, good organization skills are essential.


A virtual assistant may be responsible for performing several different tasks, sometimes for different clients. If you're good at multitasking, you may find it easier to complete different duties concurrently to stay on schedule.

Read more: How To Develop Your Multitasking Skills (With Examples)

Time management

Virtual assistants are responsible for managing their own time as well as their clients' schedules. Many virtual assistants manage several calendars, including setting, rescheduling and canceling appointments and meetings.

Interpersonal skills

Though virtual assistants are remote employees, they often work with managers, employers, coworkers and customers. It's important to have a friendly and professional manner in emails, over the phone, via video calls and through message systems to excel as a virtual assistant.

Read more: Skills That Virtual Assistants Need

Work environment of a virtual assistant

Many virtual assistants work from home, though some may work in an office with other virtual assistants or anywhere with a high-speed internet connection. They can work in several different industries depending on their skills, including:

  • Healthcare

  • Real estate

  • Law firms

  • Marketing agencies

  • Engineering firms

They usually work as contractors for clients as opposed to being salaried employees, though quality virtual assistants may work for the same company or client for a long time. Depending on the contract, they may work full or part-time hours. Virtual assistants typically complete most of their work on a computer, communicating with clients and conducting research online.

Related: 11 Companies That Hire Remote Virtual Assistants: A Guide


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