Who Are Virtual Assistants?

A virtual assistant, or VA, is someone who serves as an administrative support but does not come into a physical office. VAs typically work on their own in their homes. They find clients through websites and online ads, and they handle all of their work electronically or by telephone. A VA is much less expensive for a company than a traditional secretary. A virtual assistant may begin at a wage of $10-30 per hour. Considering that he or she will pay expenses, it is a deal for employers who would pay about $44 an hour for salary plus benefits for an in-house administrative assistant, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of people who work as virtual assistants is tough to pin down because there is no governing body over their work. A recent Alliance for Virtual Businesses survey of about 300 working virtual assistants showed that about 60 percent of them work their VA business full-time, which respondents indicated meant six to eight hours per day.

VAs do any number of tasks for clients. Many of them handle email for clients who have tremendous response to their online businesses. Others schedule appointments, send press releases, contact publicity personnel, and even book travel plans for clients. Virtual assistants with exceptional skills, such as bookkeeping or basic programming knowledge, are able to command a much higher hourly rate.

Becoming a virtual assistant requires that you have solid organizational skills. Unless one happens to find a particularly busy client, it will be necessary to take on several clients in order to have full-time work. That means that the VA must be able to organize several projects effectively at the same time. As far as equipment is concerned, being a VA requires a basic desktop computer with online access and office supplies. There are no special purchases required for this business model.

This profession likely will continue to grow as more people use the Internet for their businesses. While the industry is still forming, it is becoming a more popular option for people who want a home-based business.

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