With over 57 million people freelancing and working from home, according to the most recent Freelancing in America study conducted by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, it is easier now than ever to be self-employed or find a work from home job. And if you’ve searched online for legit work from home jobs, you may have come across the term virtual assistant.
But what exactly is a virtual assistant, what do they do, and how much can you earn as a work from home virtual assistant? Here’s the breakdown of the typical virtual assistant salary, and what all you need to earn that.
- What Is A Virtual Assistant?
- What Can A Virtual Assistant Do?
- How Much Can A Virtual Assistant Earn?
- Which Are The Highest Paying Virtual Assistant Opportunities?
- How Can A Virtual Assistant Land High Paying Clients?
- Pros and Cons Of Becoming A Virtual Assistant
- Who Can Work As A Virtual Assistant?
- How Do You Get Started As A Virtual Assistant?
- In Conclusion: Virtual Assistant Salary
What Is A Virtual Assistant?
First, let’s cover what a virtual assistant is really quickly. The simple answer for what is a virtual assistant is a person that works with clients and helps them run their business, virtually. In other words, you can help an entrepreneur, small business owner, or corporation with their day to day tasks, without leaving the comfort of your own home.
A virtual assistant doesn’t automatically equal a secretary either. While some virtual assistants offer admin services, there are some that are in a certain niche or have special skills that have nothing to do with taking calls or customer service. So it’s important to keep that in mind.
What Can A Virtual Assistant Do?
Virtual assistants have an array of different qualities, skills, and benefits. Some virtual assistants help with social media marketing or email marketing. Some prefer project management tasks. Other virtual assistants focus on coding and website building.
The key here is that anyone can become a virtual assistant and market their skills to find clientele. There is no one size fits all when it comes to being a virtual assistant. No matter what your skills or talents you offer, how you run your business and what you bring to the table will be just as unique as you are.
How Much Can A Virtual Assistant Earn?
Just as the skills of virtual assistants vary, so does the virtual assistant salary. However, here is a breakdown of what you could earn as a virtual assistant.
As of October 2019, the average virtual assistant salary in the United States is $59,386 according to Zip Recruiter.
If you were to break that down into 40 hours a week, working 50 weeks out of the year, that’s almost $30 an hour.
It’s important to keep in mind that while there are virtual assistants who are paid less and some who are paid more, that is the average.
A virtual assistant salary is dependent on many factors, and all are important to note. How much you earn as a virtual assistant is based on:
- Your skillset
- Your experience
- The clients you work with
- Your niche and specialty
- Other factors including but not limited to: location, workload, negotiation skills, testimonials or reviews
As a VA, your salary will most likely start off lower when you first start working for yourself or freelancing. Then, over time and by investing in yourself and growing your expertise, the amount you can earn will grow.
It’s wise to raise your rates every few months to a year (or even with each new client) until you reach your desired hourly rate or annual salary.
For more information about how to raise your rates and to calculate an accurate hourly rate (since not all work is billable), check out my course, $10K VA.
Hourly Rates for Virtual Assistants
For example, an entry-level or beginner virtual assistant salary is around $15 an hour. Typically, a beginner virtual assistant will be able to use basic online tools, can do basic research, ad complete tasks on time or before the deadline. However, they may need some direction when completing certain tasks that they are unfamiliar with.
An intermediate virtual assistant salary may vary but is typically around $25-$35 per hour. They are most likely virtual assisting full-time (not as a side hustle), have more skills built up and can use more advanced online tools. Not much direction will be needed from clients. They are also well-versed in negotiation and can often take on bigger tasks or projects, and juggle multiple clients.
Expert virtual assistants are usually the highest-paid because they have the most experience or offer the most technical services. At this point, these virtual assistants have buckled down on a specialty that is high-paying and they can manage multiple clients and projects with ease. These virtual assistants can make anywhere from $40-$60 per hour, or more.
Which Are The Highest Paying Virtual Assistant Opportunities?
Any virtual assistant can charge whatever they want for the work that they do if they’re self-employed. However, there are some skills and niches that pay more than others.
Here are some of the highest paying virtual assistant opportunities.
Just as a quick note, no matter what you offer as a virtual assistant, you can build your skills and expertise to earn as much as you want. The sky is the limit.
Medical & Legal Virtual Assistants
These positions and roles vary, but medical and legal virtual assistants typically need other qualifications, skills, and certifications, which in return earns them more money. From insurance, compliance, managing schedules, and billing hours, they are well versed in their fields, which means they can charge a higher rate.
Graphic Design Virtual Assistants
Just about everything you see online, from eye-catching logos to social media graphics, were created by a graphic designer. And many virtual assistants have started specializing in this skill. This skill is in high demand, especially during heavy periods of marketing for companies.
Web Design Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants with website building and coding expertise can typically charge a premium for their skillset. Websites can cost a whopping $5,000-$15,000 to build, and sometimes even more for large companies. When companies need a sleek and cohesive look, while being professional, they will hire someone with web design experience.
E-commerce Virtual Assistants
E-commerce is quickly taking over the brick and mortar business industry. Anyone can open their own online store and sell their products, or wholesale products, from the comfort of their own home. However, with e-commerce comes its own unique challenges.
From stock to customer service to website downtime, an e-commerce owner has quite a bit to worry about. That’s why they pay higher prices for experienced VAs that can help them manage the day to day of their business. There are even virtual assistants who specialize in Amazon, Etsy, and other e-commerce platforms.
Proofreading Virtual Assistants
Technical skills aren’t the only skills that are well paid for virtual assistants. Editing, blog managing, and proofreading virtual assistants are typically paid well too. While this opportunity is typically project-based, the faster a VA can work and get through edits, the more they can make.
How Can A Virtual Assistant Land High Paying Clients?
As a virtual assistant, it’s important to increase your skills to increase your pay. With that, the most successful virtual assistants and the VAs that land high paying clients tend to focus on these main things.
First, high paid virtual assistants are consistently working on growing their skillset and learning new tools and techniques. Taking courses, doing research, and investing in coaching and mentorship are important when you want to increase your virtual assistant salary.
Part of sales is knowing about negotiation and how to do it. And even as a virtual assistant, you’ll be negotiating your business, your pay, your boundaries, and more.
Sometimes it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Networking, doing great work for clients, and keeping communication open even with clients you don’t work with anymore can get your foot into many doors.
Achieving these things doesn’t always equal more money. But they are the best ways to grow your business or book higher-paying clients. They’re also a great way to build up a roster to prove your work and worth.
Pros and Cons Of Becoming A Virtual Assistant
While being a work from home virtual assistant is a dream for many, there are both pros and cons to consider before becoming one. These aren’t listed to scare you or make you second guess your decision. Instead, they are things that every new virtual assistant needs to be aware of.
Let’s start with the pros.
Virtual Assistant Pros
- You have freedom. This includes being able to work in your pj’s, work on your own time, and be location independent.
- You can set your own rates. You can charge as much or as a little, as you want, offer as many services, and more.
- Overhead is typically low. Because most virtual assistants work from home, and don’t typically have their own employees or contractors, overhead is low. Typically, the only expenses a virtual assistant has is their computer or laptop, internet services, and online tools they may use to make their work easier.
Virtual Assistant Cons
There are a few cons to consider before jumping into virtual assisting. Here they are.
- You have to pay your own taxes. As a business owner or freelancer, you have to pay your own taxes. This could be up to about 35% of your income based on your deductions, how you file, and more.
- There are no paid holidays or vacation. VAs don’t get sick days, vacation days, or paid holidays. If they have to take time off, they lose pay. While this can be off-set by charging more and having systems in place while you’re out, you won’t have that ability when just starting out.
- Working from home can be lonely. If you’re an extrovert, or like getting out of the house, it is a lot harder to do that. As a virtual assistant, you’ll most likely be stuck at home for quite a few hours each week.
Who Can Work As A Virtual Assistant?
Anyone can work as a virtual assistant. It doesn’t require any special skills, equipment, or education to get started.
However, there are a few skills and mindsets that will make you successful, even if times get hard or when you’re first getting started. Those skills include being organized, being willing to learn, basic computer knowledge, and the willingness to work hard.
Contrary to things told online, you also don’t need a degree or a lot of money to get started as a virtual assistant. A degree may be useful in certain niches (like marketing or e-commerce), but it isn’t required. There are many successful VAs that don’t have a college degree.
As far as money, while it could help you to get equipment like a business phone or phone number, or a new computer, it isn’t completely necessary. As long as you have internet access, an email address, and a device of some kind, you can start offering virtual assistant services and getting paid for them.
How Do You Get Started As A Virtual Assistant?
There are many ways to get started as a virtual assistant. This blog post goes into more detail, but here are the quick bits:
- Make the effort to actually start. You’ll never earn money as a virtual assistant if you never get started.
- Decide on your services and what you want to offer. Make sure you base this on your current skillset. You can always change it later.
- Have the right tools, including an email, internet, and a laptop or computer.
- Draft up a contract. Include your payment terms, termination notes, a confidentiality clause, a non-compete if needed, a non-solicitation clause if needed, the scope of work, and your independent contractor status and agreement.
- Price your services. You can start out by charging hourly. If you want to get clients quickly, maybe you’ll start out at a lower price point (like $15-$20) and increase your prices from there.
- Find your first client. You may have to reach out to your network, check networking groups, or pitch directly to who you want to work with.
In Conclusion: Virtual Assistant Salary
As you can see, being a virtual assistant means you can do anything, charge anything, and earn as little or as much as you want. While the average virtual assistant salary may be a little under $60,000, there are many virtual assistants making 6-figures, or more, every year.
The key to being a successful virtual assistant doesn’t lie with how much you charge. Or even what you want. It’s actually based on your dedication and work ethic.
Being a virtual assistant is a fulfilling, and often well-paying, career choice. While the pay is great, working with clients and making a difference in businesses and entrepreneurs’ lives is even better.