3 Simple Steps To Become A PA

3 Simple Steps To Become A PA

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Every boss needs a personal assistant to support the work that they do thus, hiring a personals assistant or PA is often key to running a successful office and business. If this is a career you would like, then follow these three simple steps on how to become a PA.

Step 1 – Understand what a PA does
The terms personal assistant, secretary and so on all used interchangeably from one business to another, from one sector to another. Thus, there is no one definition that sets a PA apart from other administration based roles.

When you see a job advertisement for a PA make sure you check the job description as duties will vary from one post to another. In the main, however, it is generally accepted that a PA works with the senior management within a company. In many larger companies and organisations, a PA is assigned to one specific member of staff.

As a PA, you will enjoy a demanding and challenging role that can vary on a daily basis. In the main, a PA will:

  • Satisfy key business aspects such as ensuring things run smoothly and this means having the confidence and respect of their employer and colleagues too. Many people see a PA as ‘the go-to person.’
  • It can be a demanding role, with various pressure points and the hours can be long. There is also a chance that you may need to deal with difficult people. Thus, diplomacy skills are essential.
  • You will also need to perform routine tasks such as filing, emails and so on
  • You will also need to be able to work independently and on your own initiative; there will be times, for example, when you may need to make a ‘holding’ decision. That is, create time and space for your boss to be able to deal with an important issue.
  • You will need to be composed and calm, with a good sense of judgement.

A PA is often seen as being indispensable and is often well thought of within a company. It goes without saying, that a PA needs a keen sense of confidentiality and discretion. You will often be party to important, confidential conversations both in person and in the material that your handle. Clearly, a PA, who cannot retain confidential information is of little use to a business or executive working in any kind of sensitive setting, commercial or otherwise.


Some personal assistant roles can be incredibly well paid.

Step 2 – Look for opportunities
Not all companies employ PAs for their senior managers and being a PA is a fluid role that has changed enormously in recent years, important in understanding how to become a PA in the modern workplace.

The advent of the Internet and ‘paper-less’ working has meant that spending hours shuffling paper has morphed into a need for a PA to have information technology skills that make them expert in all kinds of computing areas.

A PA no longer has to be sat at a desk in an office outside the boss’s door; the advent of virtual PAs means that smaller businesses can now take advantage of buying in services when they need them and, more importantly when they can afford them.

Essentially a supporting role, a PA needs to have an innate understanding of the environment in which the company they work for operates in. In other words, if you are planning on becoming a PA, spend some time looking for companies in your local area who would hire PAs and get to know their business. This is vital for getting a ‘foot in the door’ at interview.

Step 3 – Get qualified
Some personal assistant roles can be incredibly well paid with some PAs working for some of the most powerful and influential people in business, politics, education, health care and so on.

As a result, many companies will look to invest in a personal assistant that is qualified. How to become a PA is just as much about having a robust skill set, as it is about having the right outlook and attributes.

But take care, there are all kinds of Personal Assistant courses that promise great things but fail to deliver. Check the course content against job descriptions you have come across for PAs that companies are asking for – are they similar or matching? Will you be acquiring the skill base that employers are asking for?

Is it the right role for you?

A personal assistant supports the boss in all kinds of ways. They are often the people behind the scenes that ensure everything happens when it should, and how it should do too. It can mean long hours. It can also mean international travel as well as a trip to the local café to pick up the sandwich order.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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