Personal Assistant

How to Become a Personal Assistant
Personal Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Personal Assistants
Personal Assistant Salary
Influential Professional Personal Assistants
Leading Organizations for Personal Assistants
Top Cities for Personal Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Personal Assistant

In most instances, to become a Personal Assistant the employer provides on-the job training. Sometimes a state may require formal training through a community college, elder care program or vocational school. Since each job role is different with regards to assisting others, there is no formal training involved other than what the employer provides. A business or communications degree would benefit the applicant.

What does a Personal Assistant do?

A personal assistant can provide aide to elderly, disabled or convalescent individuals, in their own homes or residential care facilities. While some work with chronically disabled people others work with recently discharged patients on a temporary basis, until the client becomes fully functional.

Some assistants provide housekeeping, shopping, grooming and washing services to clients who cannot perform these services for themselves. They will sometimes accompany clients to medical appointments and work with the families of the client, providing instruction on nutrition, medical care and hygiene.

In some health care agencies, the personal assistant will work under the supervision of a registered nurse or social worker. The supervisor will assign a specific set of duties and the personal assistant must keep records of their work and the client's condition, which they report to their supervisor. While they have a supervisory structure, personal assistants usually work one-on-one with a client, without direct supervision. They are personally responsible for travel to and from the client's home.

Some personal assistants may work with only one client for an extended period of time. Others may work with several on the same day, in cases where the clients need less attention. One client may have several personal assistants working in shifts. The nature of the job frequently depends on the client, who may be pleasant or depressed and abusive.

Two-thirds of all personal assistants work full time, with the remainder working part time. Work schedules follow the client's needs, which may require weekend or evening work.

Another use of the term, personal assistant, exists which describes assistants to rather well off, busy people. These assistants organize mail, schedule daily activities, remember names etc. The line between business and personal life blurs in this field. Minimal data exits on this occupation, however.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Personal Assistant?

Personal assistants need to find helping people extremely rewarding. They have to be responsible, honest, patient and emotionally stable. As they work in private home, they must also be discrete and trustworthy. Very often, clients are highly vulnerable, so personal assistants have to pass certain physical exams to ensure that they are free of communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis.

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice has developed a 75hour voluntary certification program, which emphasizes seventeen observable skills and a written test. A registered nurse assesses the competency of the examinee for the observable component.

Possibilities for advancement are somewhat limited. Some personal assistants, however, move on to nursing or home health aide as a career.

How much does a Personal Assistant make?

If the annual salaries of all personal assistants were arranged from the lowest to the highest, the median would be that point at which 50% of the salaries were lower and 50% were higher. Most salaries differ somewhat from the median, however. The best estimate of a potential salary lies in the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile, known as the middle 50% of salaries. The 25th percentile is the point at which 25% of salaries are below and the 75th percentile is the point at which 75% of all salaries are below.

In May 2007, the median wage for personal assistants was $26,630 per annum. The middle 50% ranged between $21,300 and $33,000. They tend to be paid only for time actually spent with a client and travel time is not reimbursed, personal assistants who see more than one client in a day will have unpaid hours between paid hours. Residential facilities for the mentally ill pay the highest wages.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Elaine D. Stephens, Chair of National Association for Home Care and Hospice, serves on the Board of the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. She is a past President of the Visiting Nurse Network of Rhode Island.

William A. Dombi frequently testifies before Congress for The National Association for Home Care and Hospice. He has written 'Home Care and Hospice Law: a Handbook for Executives'. Vice-President for Law of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, he directs the legal strategy of the organization, the Center for Health Care Law. The legal section protects the rights of the disabled, elderly and chronically ill clients who require personal assistance.

Denise Bonn works as Deputy Director of the Center for Health Care Law.

Michele A. Quirolo, who serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Visiting Nurse Association of Hudson Valley Mount Kisco, received the 2004 founder's award from the Women's Healthcare Network. She is one of the partners in the West Cornell Home Healthcare Research Partnership.

Val J. Halamandaris wrote the chapter 'The National Association for Home Care' in the book 'Handbook of Home Health Care Administration', by Marilyn Harris (ed.). He also wrote 'Advocates for the Elderly', along with several other books. He founded the Caring Awards, in 1985, after a meeting with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The award calls attention to people who return good to society in extraordinary ways.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice represents home care agencies, hospices and medical care suppliers. The organization offers professional development at its conferences, but these are directed to managers, rather than personal assistants themselves. The organization offers employment information, but again these job offers do not appear to be directed towards personal assistants. It also has a lobbying function to advance the interests of the industry. The National Association for Home Care and for Hospice has a legal arm to represent the interests of the elderly and the disabled. The website ( provides facts and statistics about home care, which can be broken down state-by-state and also a listing of affiliated state agencies. The organization publishes an official journal 'Caring'.

What are some top cities for Personal Assistant jobs?

The US had about 767,000 people employed as personal assistants in 2006, most in home health care services, residential facilities or private homes. Of these 61,360 were self-employed, about 8%.

The percentage of elderly and disabled people drives the demand for this job. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the demand for personal assistants will grow much faster than the overall employment rate. Unfortunately the relative low pay, minimal skill requirements and high emotional stress tend to create a chronic situation of high turnover in this field. This tends to lessen competition for these jobs.

Houston, Texas ranked first in a listing of cities with demand for personal assistance, followed closely by Phoenix, Arizona and Newport Beach, California.

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