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What Is a Private Personal Assistant?

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood

A private personal assistant, also commonly referred to as a personal assistant or personal aid, helps an individual in carrying out the affairs of daily living. She may help the client in home tasks, business interactions or both. A private personal assistant may work for a company that specializes in matching clients with personal aids, a government agency that provides assistance to the infirm or disabled or be a self-employed private contractor.

If an assistant is employed to specifically work in a home, her duties may be confined to the household and the individual needs of her client. The household duties commonly include light housework, food shopping, meal preparation and laundry. Personal support tasks performed by the assistant typically include scheduling doctor and professional appointments, accompanying the client to appointments and paying bills. If the client is physically challenged, she may be required to help in bathing, using the restroom and getting the client dressed and undressed.

Personal assistants may be responsible for scheduling appointments.
Personal assistants may be responsible for scheduling appointments.

A significant number of executives have private personal assistants to help them with their daily business and personal affairs as well. A person in this position generally helps her employer in a wide range of tasks that normally vary from day to day. Unlike an executive secretary or administrative assistant who may aid in office operations and conducting business affairs, a personal assistant customarily handles more intimate jobs such as buying gifts for friends and family members, scheduling private excursions and vacations and dropping off and picking up laundry and dry cleaning.

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

In some cases, a private personal assistant may work for a family, typically one with older children who have busy schedules. A person with this job is ordinarily responsible for managing the calendars of both the parents and the children in the household to effectively schedule sports practice sessions, private lessons and doctor and dentist appointments. She is often the person who takes the place of a nanny or au pair once the children in the household reach middle school age.

The more skills they have, the more marketable a personal assistant will be.
The more skills they have, the more marketable a personal assistant will be.

A personal assistant is generally required to have exemplary organizational and time management skills. She frequently has to reschedule appointments and events to accommodate changes in the personal lives of her clients, so a calm, composed demeanor is often considered an asset for persons in this profession. Excellent communication skills typically make her relationships with her clients stable and free of conflict.

There are no firm educational requirements for this position. Many employers prefer that candidates for the position have either an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Good managerial skills are usually considered an asset for applicants who aspire to the position of private personal assistant.

What Does a Personal Assistant Do?

Since every employer is different, the duties of a personal assistant may vary widely from one aide to the next. Generally speaking, there are six kinds of personal assistants.

House Managers

House managers do just that: manage your household. They take care of setting up doctor and dentist appointments, run errands, drive kids to practices and appointments and light cleaning. They may do your grocery shopping and prepare meals for your family. House managers can also handle administrative tasks such as paying bills, answering phone calls and screening email.

Personal Concierge

A personal concierge has a more narrow scope than a house manager. Concierges typically run errands and make appointments. They can organize other household staff such as landscape architects and housekeepers. They may drop off and pick up laundry and dry cleaning, arrange parties, and even manage a relocation.

Business Personal Assistants

Business personal assistants may have the title of administrative assistant or executive assistant, but their job duties go above and beyond administrative tasks. They may schedule appointments; keep a business diary; screen emails and other correspondence; and do research for their client’s business needs. They can also plan parties or other events; purchase gifts for family, friends or clients; and make travel arrangements.

Personal Shoppers

Personal shoppers buy things on behalf of their clients, including groceries, household goods, furniture, clothing and accessories. They may shop with their clients, guiding them to options that would work well for the clients’ needs, wants and lifestyle. They may also make purchases on their own and deliver the items bought to their clients’ homes.

Aides for People With Disabilities

Personal assistants for people who have disabilities can be an invaluable part of the client’s life. These aides might help with activities of daily living, such as showering, dressing, shopping and meal preparation. They may also provide companionship, depending on the type of arrangement they have with their clients.

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants work out of their own home on behalf of their clients, providing support for both business and personal tasks. They can help with scheduling appointments, screening email, entering data and contacting customers. If there’s a task that needs doing that doesn’t require a physical presence, a virtual assistant can do it.

How Much Do Personal Assistants Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average pay for personal assistants is $39,663. On the low end, assistants earn $13,500, and on the higher side, they can make $70,500 or more. Wages are going to depend on a variety of factors, including location, experience, job duties, and whether the assistant is working for an agency or as a freelancer. Comparably says that celebrity personal assistants can make upward of $254,999.

In addition to an hourly wage or salary, employers may offer paid time off and health coverage. They could also benefit personally by purchasing workers’ compensation insurance, in case the assistant is injured on the job.

Tax Implications of Hiring a Personal Assistant

To determine what impact hiring an assistant is going to have on an employer’s taxes, it first must be determined if the aide is an employee or an independent contractor. This can be complicated since there are many factors that go into this verdict. People considering hiring a personal assistant should consult a CPA or tax specialist to help them decide which category your assistant falls into.

If the aide is an employee, employers are required to withhold income taxes and withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. They also have to pay unemployment taxes.

If the assistant is an independent contractor, employers don’t have to withhold or pay any taxes. The tax burden falls on the contractor’s shoulders, often leading to the assistant asking for higher wages than would be paid to an employee for the same work.

How To Become a Personal Assistant?

Becoming a personal assistant can be as easy as hanging out a shingle and calling yourself a personal assistant. You’ll want to assess your skills, likes and dislikes to determine what kind of work you’re comfortable doing. Usually, a high school diploma, a knack for organization and a deep well of patience are required. However, if you want to be a business personal assistant or aide for people with disabilities, you’ll need more specialized training and often a bachelor’s degree.

If you have a deep-seated desire to help people, you may make for an excellent aide. No matter what kind of personal assistant you want to be, you can have a long, happy career being of service to others.

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    • Personal assistants may be responsible for scheduling appointments.
      By: Kurhan
      Personal assistants may be responsible for scheduling appointments.
    • Personal assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.
      By: Nmedia
      Personal assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.
    • The more skills they have, the more marketable a personal assistant will be.
      By: endostock
      The more skills they have, the more marketable a personal assistant will be.