What is a Personal Virtual Assistant?

Erin Oxendine

A personal virtual assistant is an administrative professional who performs personal and business services for clients, usually from the assistant’s home. Many professionals have jumped at the chance to work from home due to ever-increasing time restraints with their families and work lives. Personal virtual assistants enjoy the freedom to set their own hours and earn an income working from a remote location.

Personal virtual assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.
Personal virtual assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.

An individual who works as a personal virtual assistant typically has at least a high school education or college degree. Classes that would be helpful to this professional include accounting, data processing and computer training. Some assistants have certifications in secretarial science and business. Since many companies want the assistant to do transcription, most assistants have transcription software and headphones.

A professional organizer offers clients personal services that help them manage their time, clutter, and personal energies.
A professional organizer offers clients personal services that help them manage their time, clutter, and personal energies.

Often, a personal virtual assistant may work as an independent contractor while others work for staffing companies who lease the assistants to clients. Clients pay the staffing company for the assistant’s services, which in turn pay the assistant minus a finder’s fee. Assistants can also charge by the task or put clients on a payment plan.

There are varieties of tasks that a personal virtual assistant can do, ranging from scheduling appointments for busy executives to transcribing audio tapes from a conference. Many assistants conduct research on the Internet and prepare reports as the client dictates. Other individuals assist attorneys and prepare legal documents.

Some personal virtual assistants act as personal shoppers for clients and assist with online purchases. These assistants buy merchandise for corporate executives who are too busy to buy gifts for employees and friends. Other purchasing tasks might consist of finding online bargains and ordering flowers. The assistant might make travel arrangements, book hotel rooms and reserve discount cruises.

Another type of personal virtual assistant is someone who performs accounting duties for an accounting firm. These individuals often help during tax season by preparing taxes for clients, online. The accounting firm scans in all related tax documents from their client and sends it to the assistant via email. The assistant will review the documents, enter in the tax information and complete the tax forms pending the accountant’s final review.

Certain personalized services a personal virtual assistant may do for the client upon request. Some of these functions would be providing morning wake-up calls and giving directions over the phone. A personal virtual assistant can even organize special events by coordinating with caterers, wine companies and florists.

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