Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant

By: Dan Trujillo | Updated: November 30, 2022
executive assistant vs administrative assistant

Key Takeaway

Executive assistants and administrative assistants have different job responsibilities and skill sets. Executive assistants typically support high-level executives with strategic tasks, while administrative assistants handle more routine administrative duties. When deciding which type of assistant to hire, consider your specific needs and budget.

Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant: Everything You Need To Know

Table of Contents

What is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant has specific experience with project management and administrative tasks. They’re the go-to person who works exclusively with upper and senior management, often assisting with calendar management, expenses, errands, and scheduling. 

Roles and duties of an executive assistant

The job description for an executive assistant will always vary, as the responsibilities will be specific to the company employing them. A lot of independent work is expected of this role, so being comfortable with autonomy and self-management is essential. If the executive is the type of busy professional with a dozen things on their plate, then the executive assistant makes it all possible for them. Here are some examples of duties often expected of an executive assistant.

  • Staying on top of correspondence both inside and outside of the company.
  • Calendar management.
  • Appointment scheduling.
  • Organize meetings.
  • Arrange travel plans.
  • Preparing and processing reports(statistical, expense).
  • Take meeting notes.

What is an administrative assistant?

An administrative assistant has organization and multitasking skills, with strong attention to detail. They’re often the go-to person for various tasks around the office, providing general support to entire teams and departments. From data entry and inbox management to note-taking and client greeting, and more.

Roles and duties of an administrative assistant

The job description for an administrative assistant can be broad, as it’s meant to be a flexible support position for a department or the entire office. So duties and responsibilities will vary based on the company and who they’re supporting. An effective administrative assistant should enable their team to focus on their own responsibilities and goals, without being bogged down by lingering busy work. Here are some examples of typical tasks expected of an administrative assistant.

  • Greet and guide clients, both in-person and over the phone.
  • Route and distribute physical mail/packages.
  • Monitor a general email inbox and phone line.
  • Operate office equipment such as fax machines, printers, and scanners.
  • Create and manage spreadsheets, databases, and inventories.
  • Complete forms in accordance with company procedures.
  • Research, schedule, and coordinate meetings and events.

What’s the difference between an executive assistant and an administrative assistant?


Both types of assistants need to be organized and have strong communication skills. As mentioned above, strong time management and self-discipline are also important skills for either assistant. However, an executive assistant often needs a bit more advanced experience to keep up with the top executives and CEOs. An administrative assistant will require some off-the-cuff thinking and planning, but a lot of their typical duties are predetermined procedures with routine steps to follow. Whereas an executive assistant should expect a more dynamic and challenging experience.


According to statistics from salary.com, the average salary of an administrative assistant in the US is $43,583. The average salary of an executive assistant in the US is $65,000. Both figures are as recent as October 27, 2022. While factors like experience and education obviously come into play when budgeting for these roles, the executive assistant typically starts higher as it means working more closely with higher-level executives. 

Work Experience

Typically most administrative assistants don’t require much experience for an entry-level position. Usually, a demonstration of basic technical skills like data entry, Microsoft and Google suite proficiency, as well as confidence in phone conversations will be enough to get started. However, executive assistants typically require a couple of years’ worth of experience as an assistant. They are often promoted within the same organization, from an administrative position.

Hiring a virtual administrative or executive assistant

By now the differences between administrative and executive assistants should be fairly clear. An easy way of looking at it is administrative is for the team/office, and executive is for the individual. Executive assistants require more hands-on experience, whereas administrative is more entry-level, but with time can lead up to an executive role. Here at MyOutDesk, we specialize in providing proven virtual assistants for a wide variety of roles in a wide variety of industries. That includes experienced and tested professionals with experience as both types of assistants, from administrative assistants for your office to personal executive assistants for leaders. And we offer both at up to 70% savings compared to a local hire for the same roles. Thanks to our thorough interview process, which includes FBI-grade background checks and skill assessments, you get the same quality of professionalism as you would from a local hire. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is an executive assistant higher than an administrative assistant?
    1. Yes. Admin assistants typically juggle duties that serve an entire office or specific department. Executive assistants are reserved for supporting individual leaders, from department managers to executive leaders.
  2. What position is higher than an executive assistant?
    1. An office manager is seen as one step higher up the ladder because they often have individual admin assistants underneath them. This role will juggle a variety of company-wide responsibilities and often works with executive assistants too.
  3. What are the top three most important skills for an executive assistant?
    1. According to teambuilding.com, the most sought-after skills for this role are 1. Organization skills, 2. Multitasking abilities, and 3. Time management. 
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