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How to Become a Certified Personal Assistant

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Personal assistants provide administrative services to an individual, including answering the phone, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, running errands, planning social events and shopping. Most are self-employed, but some work for agencies. Personal assistants have more employment opportunities in urban areas and are typically employed by a very busy professional person, or work in large companies such as law firms. Historically, jobs with the title of "executive secretary" included many of the duties a personal assistant does today.

Become a Certified Personal Assistant

Cultivate the type of personality and strengths that are most beneficial for becoming a certified personal assistant. You'll need an outgoing personality, excellent organizational and communication skills, technological and Internet expertise, and the ability to effectively juggle a wide variety of job duties. Take courses in interpersonal communication, computer and other technology skills and office procedures.

Join professional organizations, volunteer on charity committees, network and meet new people on a regular basis. These actions can be the best ways to obtain your first job as a personal assistant. People often hire these assistants through personal contacts rather than through advertising, by gathering recommendations from their friends and co-workers.

Apply to an agency--such as the Professional Domestic Services and Institute--that hires personal assistants, and become a certified personal assistant through its program. Some of these organizations provide a certification requiring a certain amount of post-secondary education such as an associate degree, along with some experience as an administrative assistant or executive secretary.

Obtain the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) rating or the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) rating through the International Association of Administrative Professionals. These certifications require successful completion of an exam. Achieving the CAP or CPS certification can give you an edge in becoming a personal assistant.

Apply for the Starkey International Institute Certified Personal Assistant Program, a 180-hour course from an organization that also offers certification in household management. The institute requires 60 hours of post-secondary education, a stable employment history, a clean legal and driving record and a good credit history.


Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

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