How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Assistant?
We’ve identified 6 key factors that influence how much it costs to hire an assistant. In this article, we’ll explain each of these factors in detail and outline the price you can expect to pay for the 4 main types of assistants—based on whether they’re US-based in-person, US-based virtual, or international and virtual.
Business owners and entrepreneurs often ask us, “how much does it cost to hire an assistant?”
Our answer is… it depends. It all depends on what you want and what you need.
We’ve identified 6 key factors that influence how much your assistant will cost:
- Type of assistant: The cost varies considerably depending on the type of assistant you need (e.g. administrative assistant, specialized assistant, personal assistant, executive assistant).
- Geographical location: Where an assistant is based affects the cost (e.g. U.S. versus Brazil, South Africa, India, or the Philippines).
- Full-time vs. part-time: The hours an assistant works has an impact on how much you pay.
- In-person vs. virtual assistant: There are significant cost implications based on whether an assistant works on business premises or virtually.
- Specialization: Whether an assistant specializes in a particular area (e.g. graphic design or marketing) can influence how much you pay.
- Resume and past experience: Where an assistant went to school and their previous job experience will also affect how much they cost.
In this article, we’ll explain each of these factors in detail and outline the price you can expect to pay for the 4 main types of assistants—based on whether they’re US-based and in-person, US-based but virtual, or international and virtual.
We’ll also discuss the indirect costs involved with hiring an assistant that should be taken into consideration—but are often overlooked.
Lastly, we’ll walk through how Persona’s executive assistant service works, and how it can help you avoid many of the indirect costs associated with hiring assistants.
If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, click here to get started. You can try a Persona assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.
6 Factors That Influence the Cost of Hiring an Assistant
#1: Type of Assistant
Depending on the type of assistant you want, prices range from a few hundred dollars a month for a part-time administrative assistant to a monthly salary of $12,000 for a highly sought after executive assistant (the equivalent of what some might think of as a “Chief of Staff”).
To begin understanding how much an assistant will cost you, you must first decide which type of assistant you need. So let’s begin by defining the 4 main types of assistants:
An administrative assistant’s focus is typically on repetitive operational tasks such as data entry, bookkeeping, or payroll. Admins are typically the least expensive type of assistant because their utility is generally limited to basic recurring tasks. They usually don’t interact with key personnel or clients on your behalf, or take on more complex tasks that founders and executives often need (e.g. project management or creating presentations).
Specialized assistants provide support in a specific area such as digital marketing. For example, a specialized assistant may be hired to help with copywriting or designing landing pages. They typically cost more than an admin assistant due to their specialization, but less than a personal or executive assistant, due to their utility being limited in scope.
Because they’re hired for specific things, they don’t do generalist tasks such as calendar management or making travel arrangements. They’re paid solely for handling tasks within their specialized area.
Personal assistants handle a wide variety of personal tasks such as making dinner reservations, coordinating grocery deliveries, or sending gifts to friends and family.
They tend to be more expensive than admin or specialized assistants because of the wide scope of tasks they can handle. However, they typically don’t help with the business-related tasks and projects that many executives would want to delegate to an assistant.
Executive assistants are the Swiss Army Knife of assistants. A great executive assistant can be leveraged to handle tasks from all 3 of the above categories. They can manage administrative tasks such as bookkeeping and payroll, specialized tasks such as social media management and other digital marketing activities, and personal tasks as well.
In addition, executive assistants can take over things such as calendar and email management, and communicate on your behalf with key stakeholders inside and outside of your organization. As a result of their wide-ranging utility and high level of competency in communication, organization, and other key areas, executive assistants are typically the most expensive type of assistant.
#2: Geographical Location
If you don’t mind your assistant being in a different time zone, you can pay a lot less. For example, if you live in the U.S. and hire an assistant based in Eastern Europe where the cost of living is much lower, you can pay as little as $1,000 per month for an assistant. This is in stark contrast to an average US-based assistant who could cost around 4-5 times that.
In general, assistants based in the U.S., Canada, and other western countries tend to be the most expensive, while assistants from other regions are much more affordable.
However, it's also worth noting that assistants from less expensive regions can also be more skilled and capable than US assistants because it's easier to attract and hire candidates who graduated from the very best universities and pay them a competitive rate for their region.
#3: Full-time vs. Part-time
Another key factor in cost is whether you hire a part-time or full-time assistant. It may seem more cost-effective to hire one that’s part-time. However, there are several trade offs to consider.
First, part-time assistants’ hourly rates are more expensive. For example, the same executive assistant might cost an average hourly rate of $60 for part-time work versus $40 for full-time. So, while you may be spending less overall than you would for a full-time assistant, you’re not getting as much for your money.
Second, a part-time assistant will often spread their time across different clients. You won’t necessarily be their highest priority. When their workload for other clients piles up, they may not have much bandwidth for you.
Third, part-time assistants are often pursuing another career path on the side and may not take their assistant work as seriously as a dedicated, full-time person.
And lastly, it typically takes longer to get a part-time assistant up to speed than a full-time assistant who’s committed to your business and working on it every day. You can invest a lot of time in training part-time assistants and then lose them suddenly, setting you back to square one.
#4: In-Person vs. Virtual Assistant
Hiring an in-person assistant as an employee is substantially more expensive. In general, you can expect to spend up to 1.4 times their salary due to costs including payroll tax, insurance, benefits, and overhead costs (e.g. providing office space, a desk, heating, lighting, etc.).
There's also variance in the cost of living which affects how much you need to pay, even within the U.S.
For example, if you’re based in New York, you might have to pay a New York-based assistant a salary of $70,000 to meet the cost of living. In contrast, the cost of living in Arizona could be $50,000, so you can pay a remote assistant $20,000 less for the same quality of output.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re only looking for candidates in your local area, the talent pool will be much smaller and therefore reduce your chance of finding a really great assistant. For every option available in San Francisco, there may be hundreds available nationally.
While many people assume virtual assistants charge you only for their working hours, it’s also possible to hire them on a full-time salary basis. And if they live abroad where the cost of living is much lower, you can hire an experienced virtual assistant for much less than one based in the U.S.
Specialized assistants tend to charge a premium. The more specialized the skill set you hire for, the more it’s likely to cost you.
The trade off, as we mentioned above, is that specialized assistants won’t typically be willing to do generalist or personal tasks. However, that’s not the only potential downside of hiring a specialized assistant.
Specialized assistants are also typically entry level in their specialization. For example, a digital marketing assistant will often be fresh out of school with very little experience. Therefore, the tasks they can help you with, such as social media marketing or sending email marketing campaigns, are things that a smart generalist assistant could likely do for you—in addition to many other types of tasks.
#6: Resume and Past Experience
Lastly, there are 3 primary variables of a candidate’s background that have a bearing on price:
- Education: Where an assistant went to school and what kind of degree they received.
- Company pedigree: Which companies they’ve worked for (i.e. candidates who’ve worked for Google cost more than ones who’ve worked for a lesser known company).
- Experience: How many years of experience they have is a key factor that will also determine how much they are expecting to be paid.
With these factors in mind, how much can you expect to pay for these different types of assistants? Here’s an estimate based on what we’ve seen in the market.
In-Person vs. Virtual Assistant Cost Breakdown for the 4 Main Types of Assistants
Bearing in mind the different factors we’ve outlined above, costs can vary considerably. The following prices are a guide of what you might expect to pay for the 4 different types of assistants we’ve discussed, depending on where they’re based, and whether they’re in-person or virtual: