A virtual assistant (VA), also known as a virtual office assistant, is an independent contractor who provides administrative, creative, or technical services to clients remotely from a home office.
Virtual assistants work for a range of clients, and their tasks can be quite varied. For example, a VA might manage a client's social media presence, answer customer inquiries via email or chat, provide administrative support, or even supply bookkeeping services. Depending on the client's needs, a virtual assistant's duties may also include more technical roles requiring mastery of particular software.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that you don’t need a college degree to become a virtual assistant. Instead, employers pay more attention to certain must-have skills for success in this career path. Such skills include IT, social media management, excellent communication, attention to detail, data entry, and time management.
Besides having the right skill set, you must be able to market your abilities to potential employers—and that's where work marketplaces like Upwork come in. Job boards provide employers and job seekers a platform to meet, perform interviews, and negotiate pay rates. This article will discuss popular platforms where you can find virtual assistant positions and provide tips on leveraging these platforms to find jobs.
Talk about an extensive labor marketplace for clients and freelancers, and Upwork comes to mind. The platform helps businesses connect with remote workers by allowing them to advertise available jobs listing expertise required and project duration. Thanks to numerous offers available on the platform, beginners can find entry-level jobs that help them learn the ropes. Established freelancers can use Upwork to land more advanced positions.
The types of jobs offered on Upwork vary, but many involve tasks like data entry, customer service, appointment setting, bookkeeping, and research. The pay on each job will also vary depending on the job's complexity and duration—or the required experience level. Upwork also provides tutorial resources that help beginners improve their knowledge and develop skills as virtual assistants.
If you’re a beginner virtual assistant new to Upwork, you must create an account and complete your profile to apply for jobs. You can take a few actions to optimize your freelance profile when submitting proposals on Upwork. In addition, Upwork has an extensive and growing resource center with helpful guides on things like interviewing and writing a resume.
First, make sure your profile photo is professional and reflects the type of work you do. Next, take some time to complete your profile, including your work history, education, language proficiencies, skills, portfolio, and anything else that might be relevant to the type of work you want to do. By following these steps, you're setting yourself up for success in finding a virtual assistant job through Upwork.
Pay range: $10-$20/hour
2. Fancy Hands
Fancy Hands provides a service connecting assistants to people seeking help with several day-to-day tasks like managing calendars, scheduling appointments, sending emails, carrying out online research, or teaching languages online.
Using this platform as a beginner personal assistant helps reduce the stress and competition of getting jobs by getting your skills out there for clients to see. Engaging in these helpful tasks is also an excellent way to begin your career because it helps you hone your skills and gather relevant experiences that prepare you for crucial career growth.
Virtual assistants on Fancy Hands can expect to earn different amounts for different projects. Factors that can affect pay include the project type, the task's complexity, the client's budget, and the assistant’s experience.
Generally, more complex tasks and projects will pay more than simple tasks. For example, a client may be willing to pay $15 per hour to a calendar management virtual assistant but $25 per hour for a virtual assistant to answer customer calls and address complaints.
Additionally, virtual assistants with more experience can expect to earn more than those with less experience.
Pay range: $18-$27 per hour
oDeskWork is a website that offers a variety of freelance jobs. The types of jobs vary, but they mostly consist of administrative assistant tasks, customer service, data entry, and other online jobs.
Beginner virtual assistants can opt for tasks that require minimal skills and experience, like email management. However, virtual assistants with web development skills can also find more technical tasks like web design and video editing. Projects have varying pay rates depending on the tasks' complexity or the client's budget.
To begin as a virtual assistant on oDeskWork, you will create a profile that clearly displays your skills, key competencies, and professional experience. Including such vital details in your profile may help convince potential employers that you’re an excellent fit for the task.
Pay range: $3-$100 per hour
Zirtual is an online office assistant service that connects users with a team of highly skilled and experienced remote workers. Virtual assistants joining this platform must have at least a college degree to be eligible to apply.
Virtual assistants on the platform can expect to handle a wide range of tasks for customers, including social media management, market research, inbox management, travel booking, and scheduling. Some tasks requiring more specific qualifications include website development and email marketing.
Virtual assistants’ may get full-time or part-time jobs on the platform or engage in one-time outsourced gigs. As such, your earnings as a Zirtual virtual assistant may vary with location, experience, and the services offered during a project.
For example, Zirtual reports that US-based virtual assistants typically make from $15-80 per hour while those in the Philippines can make from $5-45 per hour. Top services on the platform include marketing automation assistance, bookkeeping, data entry, and research services.
Pay range: $15-$80 per hour
VANetworking.com (also known as Virtual Assistant Networking) is a platform that helps beginners find virtual assistant (VA) jobs. The site provides a directory of VA job postings, as well as free articles and resources on starting and running a virtual assistant business.
VANetworking.com is a solid resource for beginners for a few reasons. First, the site provides useful information on starting a virtual assistant business, from setting up your website to marketing your services. The site's articles and resources are regularly updated, so you're always getting the latest information. In addition, the site's virtual assistant job directory is an easy way to find good-paying virtual assistant gigs.
Intermediate and expert virtual assistants can also benefit from the platform. Intermediates can learn from the video lessons on how to set prices and improve their services to get better pay. Likewise, the site provides materials for experts to leverage affiliate marketing opportunities within the platform. Some jobs available on the platform include general administrative, real estate virtual assistant, graphic designer, and social media marketing executive.
Pay range: $25-$100 per hour
ZipRecruiter is another resource that entry-level virtual assistants can leverage to find jobs. The platform operates by matching resumes with open positions and then notifying the job seeker when a match is found. The job seeker can then apply for the position directly through ZipRecruiter. The website also offers resources and tips for job seekers, such as how to write a resume and how to prepare for an interview.
The platform provides a wide range of jobs available for both beginner and experienced virtual assistants, including full-time and part-time gigs. One way to scale your earnings on the platform is to gather experience and gradually increase your hourly rate as you gain more expertise in the virtual assistance field.
Pay range: $12-$13 per hour
FlexJobs is a job board that specializes in listing flexible, work-from-home, and telecommuting jobs. Many of the opportunities on FlexJobs are entry-level positions, making it a valuable resource for job seekers who are looking for a more flexible way to work, whether they’re seeking part-time or freelance work. FlexJobs curates remote work openings from various sources, including major job boards, virtual assistant companies, and staffing agencies.
To use FlexJobs, simply create a free account and search for jobs that interest you. You can narrow your search by the type of virtual assistant job you want, location, and other criteria. Once you find a job you're interested in, apply directly through the FlexJobs site. FlexJobs also offers a variety of job-seeking resources, such as resume help and career advice.
Pay range: Average of $31 per hour
Fiverr is an online marketplace that allows businesses and individuals to connect with freelancers who can provide a variety of services, including but not limited to the following: writing, proofreading, graphic design, web development, and more. For businesses, Fiverr provides an easy and cost-effective way to find talent for one-off projects or tasks that don't justify a full-time hire. For virtual assistants seeking freelance work, Fiverr offers an opportunity to build a portfolio and get paid for their skills.
If you're starting your search for an entry-level job, sign up for a free account on Fiverr.com. Create a gig detailing your services and explain why clients should choose you to complete their tasks. Ensure that you include high-quality images and a clear description of your services and how much you charge for them. The platform hosts a wide range of service providers, including remote customer support agents, web developers, bookkeepers, and email marketers.
Pay range: $1-$100 per hour
Virtual assistant FAQs
If you’re new to the virtual assistant field or you’re considering pursuing this career path, you’ll probably have questions about how to get started. This section answers some of the most frequently asked questions and details what you need to know about becoming a virtual assistant.
How do I become a virtual assistant without experience?
A virtual assistant is a person who provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely. They can work with businesses of all sizes and in a variety of industries. Virtual assistants are often used to free up time for business owners and entrepreneurs so they can focus on other aspects of their business.
As the business world increasingly goes virtual, people are looking for new ways to get work done from home. One option that’s gained popularity in recent years is hiring a virtual assistant. You can take a few starting steps to become a virtual assistant when you don’t have any experience.
First, start by researching the skills commonly required for virtual assistants. Many times, these skills can be learned through online courses or through reading articles and blog posts.
Once you have a good understanding of the skills needed to be a virtual assistant, begin creating a portfolio that highlights your skills. This portfolio can include anything from writing samples to social media posts and campaigns you’ve worked on. You may draw from activities you perform for your family, school, or community organizations. Ask for testimonials from clients even if you’re just volunteering.
Finally, reach out to businesses and individuals that you think could benefit from your services. Offer your services on a freelance basis to get your foot in the door, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a virtual assistant.
What are some skills I need to be a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants usually work for a variety of clients, and their tasks can be quite varied. Still, all successful virtual assistants share a few key skills. As a virtual assistant, you’ll provide administrative, technical, or creative assistance to online clients. You’ll work remotely, using your computer and phone, to complete tasks.
To be a successful virtual assistant, you’ll need strong time management, organizational, and communication skills. You’ll also need to be proficient in computers and software programs. You’ll need good soft skills, including tact, integrity, patience, and reliability.
Here are five of the most important skills for virtual assistants, as well as some tips on how to develop them:
- Time management. One of the most important skills for any VA is time management. This is the ability to prioritize tasks, manage deadlines, stay organized, and get more work done in less time. When working remotely, it’s usually up to you to manage your time and prioritize your tasks. A few different time management techniques can be helpful, such as the Pomodoro technique and time blocking.
- Organization. Having organization skills is crucial as a virtual assistant because you will often wear many hats and juggle a lot of different tasks at once. Being organized can help you become more efficient and productive in your work. With proper organization, you can keep track of your to-do list, efficiently prioritize tasks, and manage your time more effectively, especially when you’re taking on more than one client or project simultaneously.
- Communication and writing skills. In the virtual assistant industry, exceptional communication and copywriting skills are essential for success. Whether you're writing an email, creating a report, or preparing a presentation, your attention to detail and ability to communicate effectively will make all the difference. Exceptional communication skills will help you build strong relationships with your clients, understand their needs, and provide them with the required assistance. Likewise, superb writing skills will enable you to produce error-free work that’s both accurate and helpful. The Harvard Division of Continuing Education suggests eight ways to improve communication skills. Some of the strategies relevant to virtual communication include avoiding lengthy sentences to ensure clarity, preparing your message ahead of time, and practicing active listening by giving a speaker your undivided attention.
- Bookkeeping and accounting skills. Bookkeeping and accounting skills are essential for you as a virtual assistant because you’ll need to be able to track expenses and keep financial records organized. You also need to know billing and invoicing to generate accurate reports. While many virtual assistants are efficient and skilled at bookkeeping, formal education or training can be helpful if you’re just starting out.
- Computer proficiency. Computer proficiency is the ability to use computers and related technology effectively. While the level of proficiency required for each position will vary, some general skills are important for all computer users to have. These skills include using basic software programs, such as word processor and spreadsheet programs, navigating the internet, and using email. Such skills form the basics for most virtual assistant specializations.
- Specialized technical or creative skills. Aside from skills that help you be a successful administrative or executive assistant, you can also hone your skills in a department like video production, web development, or e-commerce management to make yourself valuable to clients in additional areas of the business.
What do I need to work as a virtual assistant?
Working as a virtual assistant (VA) is slightly different from working in a traditional setting. As a VA, you'll need the following items to excel:
- A computer with a reliable internet connection. Considering that your job as a virtual assistant is almost entirely remote, a computer with access to a high-speed internet connection is a must-have. You’ll need a computer to access relevant software required to work remotely, and you'll need to be able to communicate with your clients and complete tasks online. You may also need software or programs that allow you to do your job effectively (depending on your specific role and responsibilities).
- Home office. Although the job description doesn’t restrict you to working from a specific place, having a dedicated space where you work can help maintain productivity as a remote worker. According to a research report from Quality Logo Products Blog, having a clean desk can increase productivity and resilience by 84%. Since you’ll be spending long hours working there, you want to ensure you’re comfortable in your chair and desk to maintain excellent posture. Experts at Mayo Clinic recommend that your monitor should be at your eye level while your desk height should be about your elbow level. In addition, position the deskspace in a well-lit area for better visibility around the table and during Zoom calls. You can locate your desk close to a window if you have access to natural light or create an excellent ambiance above the work area by fixing light bulbs above the space.
- Mobile phone and communication accessories. Your phone is another crucial accessory you need in your workspace as a virtual assistant because phones are necessary for communicating with clients. Likewise, having a smartphone can be handy for performing small tasks like setting reminders and making calls on behalf of clients. In addition, you should consider adding noise-cancellation headphones and mic-enabled headsets. These accessories reduce background noise interference and provide clearer audio during virtual meetings or when running other virtual assistant tasks like writing meeting transcriptions.
What career opportunities are there for virtual assistants?
Virtual assistants have many career opportunities. With the globalization of the workforce, more and more businesses are outsourcing their administrative tasks to virtual assistants. A research report from Global Workplace Analytics reveals the freelance virtual assistant market to be growing at 12% annually and expected to grow by $4 billion between 2021 and 2025.
Starting a virtual assistant career typically does not require heavy academic qualifications. However, if you wish to advance to specialized or executive roles, you may need to get more advanced educational qualifications. Having a background in business administration or project management will be an excellent starting point for people hoping to get a degree to advance their virtual assistance career.
Besides getting a bachelor’s and master’s degree in relevant fields, you can obtain relevant certifications to certify your skills and years of experience in the field. The Certified Professional Virtual Assistant designation is one such credential you can earn. As you gather more educational training, certifications, and industry experience, you can progressively specialize in certain fields, depending on your preferences.
For example, after getting your bachelor's or master’s degree, you can narrow down your virtual assistant services to marketing, accounting, or customer support, depending on your specialization. Gathering more industry experience and learning more technical skills like web scraping or data analysis can also qualify you for higher pay and a more advanced role like an executive assistant. To qualify for the executive assistant role, you should typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in administration, alongside several years of experience working as a virtual assistant. Executive assistants work closely with key business executives to support them in completing administrative tasks. They help to draft and send communications on behalf of the executives. They manage logistics, schedule meetings, and prepare meeting documents.
Find virtual assistant jobs on Upwork
One inference drawn from the Global Workplace Analytics report is that a major driving force for advancing the growth of the virtual assistant industry is the popularization of work-from-home jobs. The report also revealed that the industry is set to maintain steady growth for the next few years. The best way to leverage this opportunity is to acquire relevant skills and find a first job.
Developing the skills is an important foundation before looking for a paying virtual assistant job. Once you're actively seeking a new virtual assistant job, Upwork is a great place to start. Create an account as a job seeker, complete your profile and start bidding on jobs. Ensure you provide accurate information about yourself and include an excellent description of your skills. This increases your chances of getting visibility among potential clients.
Once you’ve listed your skills and created a quality profile, Upwork is a reliable resource to find available virtual assistant jobs. Click on the option that fits your skills to submit a proposal and apply for the job.
Whether your a top business leader or just a busy solo operator, engaging a virtual assistant can have many benefits. If you're in need of virtual assistance support, Upwork is a great place to find help. Create a profile as a client and find a virtual assistant who fits your needs today.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
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