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Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant

executive assistant vs personal assistant

Executive Assitant vs Personal Assistant: Is there a difference?

Is there a difference between Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants? The common 'executive assistant vs personal assistant' is a question that I get asked regularly and whilst the two roles do share similarities, they are different professions.

Despite the overlapping duties and functions of the two roles, there’s a fine line between them. Here are the main differences between EAs and PAs.

The Personal Assistant

PAs support managerial teams usually comprising senior managers, department heads and reporting teams. Through the support of a PA the manager is able to focus on more pertinent issues and decision making.

Some of the typical duties of a Personal Assistant include:

  • Reading, monitoring and responding to emails
  • Organising meetings
  • Managing the diary of the manager
  • Arranging travel and accommodation
  • Preparing documents and presentations
  • Expenses
  • Taking minutes     

There are other tasks over and above that a PA is responsible for, depending on the business structure and business needs.

The Executive Assistant

An EA operates mainly at board level, supporting MDs, CEOs and COOs. It is a natural progression from the Personal Assistant role as Executive Assistants take on more responsibility. 

An EA will perform the same tasks as a PA but tend to be more hands-on in supporting current projects and play an effective role within the day to day management of these projects on behalf of the Executive.

Executive Assistants are aware of corporate objectives and are responsible for helping the executives achieve their goals. An EA can often have the authority to make decisions in the absence of the executive and will act as the point of contact, being their eyes and ears of the project.


Whilst the salary for a Personal Assistant and Executive Assistant will vary throughout Scotland depending on the city and the company they are employed, the salary branding for these skillsets are detailed in the following table. (Figures accurate as of October 2018).

Job Title Annual Salary Range
Personal Assistant  £19,000 - £25,000
Executive Assistant   £26,000 - £35,000+


Transitioning from PA to EA


If you are currently working as a PA and want to climb the ladder to an EA role, there are certain areas of growth and development you should focus on.

Keep working on your tech skills and soft skills

There are new tools emerging every day which simplify the day to day management function of PAs and EAs. It is important to stay up to date with the trends in the technology and regularly seek out additional training to stay current - not only in the basic Microsoft office tools like Excel and Powerpoint but in other relevant software and tools as well.

Soft skills are very important for an executive assistant role. To advance your career you must take initiative and get involved in new things at work to hone your project management skills, time management skills, research ability and so on. By taking such initiatives, not only will you get an opportunity to work on your soft skills but you will also be seen as a pro-active person keen to step up his/her game. If you’re interested in discovering how Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants can develop their skills, specifically on IT literature and using social media, check out our blog post on How are PAs and EAs using social media.

Demonstrate your competencies

In order to move into an EA role, it is important for you to show through your work that you are ready to take on the responsibility of an EA and possess the required skills for it. It's important you should be result driven and should take on projects that allow you to showcase your core competencies. Once you have made an impact in your role as a PA and you have the results to support that, speak to your manager about progressing your career and increasing your responsibilities by elevating your job title to that of an EA.

Supporting Business Success

Both roles play an incredibly important part within any organisation and it is important that both Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants continue to build their skillset through their own personal development. Confidentiality, trust and professionalism are key in this role. The ability to remain calm under pressure whilst being highly organised will ensure career longevity.

Get to know our Business Support Recruitment Team and browse through PA, EA and other Business Support Roles roles by clicking here.

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