While the Hollywood stereotype of the frazzled, low-skilled secretary with too many phone lines to answer sometimes still prevails, in reality, personal assistants are highly trained business professionals. As might be expected, they receive salaries commensurate with their training. The pay for this type of position varies, depending upon the demands of a particular job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for personal assistants will increase by almost 12 percent from 2012 to 2022.
On the High End
The movie "The Assistants" highlighted personal assistants who make $100,000 a year. Often these professionals work in competitive fields like the entertainment industry or the securities and commodities exchanges, which explains why they make so much more than others who work in similar positions. However, the industry only accounts for part of the reason why some PAs make so much. Personal assistants who earn six figures often do more than file papers and write letters to clients. They might manage business and stock portfolios, function as corporate event planners, or manage big projects.
States That Pay the Most
Without exception, the personal assistants wanting to earn the highest dollar amount per year should live on the East Coast. New York tops the list, with an annual salary range of over $66,000 per year or just over $31.00 per hour. PAs in Maryland make the least per year at nearly $59,000. The overall average salary for the four northeast states and the District of Columbia is almost $61,000 per year. The states making the list in addition to New York and Maryland are Connecticut and New Jersey.
Salaries in Metropolitan Areas
While many of the top-paying metropolitan areas are in the eastern part of the country, the top six cities that have the most jobs for personal assistants and where they can make substantial salaries are spread out between the East and West Coasts. These metropolitan areas are New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C./Alexandria, Virginia, Boston and Houston. The overall average salary for these cities is almost $59,000 per year. The Chicago metropolitan area sits at the bottom of the list while New York/New Jersey landed at the top.
Highest Paying Job Types
Specialized skill sets make a difference in this industry. The more an employer requires from this business professional, the higher the salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2013, executive assistants/secretaries earn the highest salaries at nearly $51,870 per year on average. Other highly trained assistants include legal and medical secretaries, who can expect to earn just over $45,000 and $33,000 respectively. However, job opportunities for personal assistants who act in the capacity as legal secretaries will likely take a downturn in the coming years, because many law practices now expect paralegals to do many of the tasks once assigned to the legal secretary.
2016 Salary Information for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,730 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, secretaries and administrative assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,990,400 people were employed in the U.S. as secretaries and administrative assistants.