What Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Assistant?


Sometimes, you just need a little help. After all, you're only one person and if you're trying to run a business, you've got a lot on your plate. Fortunately, you can rely on the likes of a personal assistant to handle a variety of tasks and take many of the tedious details off of that aforementioned plate. In trying to figure out how much you'll spend on a personal assistant, there are a lot of variables that you have to consider.

In this guide, we'll go through the various costs associated with hiring help in the form of a personal assistant. There's a lot more to it than just their salary. You also got to factor in benefits, overhead, taxes, insurance, and other expenses that are going to come up. Because of that, figuring out how much you are going to spend on a personal assistant depends largely on what you need.

Before we dive in, let's clear one thing up. Hiring a personal assistant, or any employee for that matter, is an investment, not an expense. You are spending money to get something that will help your business be more efficient and grow faster while providing a better level and quality of service to your audience. You're not just throwing money down the drain (that is, as long as you hire the right person for the job).

So, what's involved in this investment? And how can you figure out what you'll expect to spend?

What is a personal assistant? How can they help my business?

A personal assistant is someone who can handle just about anything that you want or need. The short answer is that they can help by doing whatever it is that you need to be done. Unlike a receptionist or an executive assistant, this person spends more time running errands and taking care of tasks than sitting behind a desk. Of course, if you need someone in that role that's fine as well. The modern personal assistant is a sort of Jack of all trades, and no matter what you have in mind the chances are good that you will find it.

Many personal assistants handle scheduling and calendars, email management, social media management, travel arrangements, office organization and upkeep, and similar tasks. Some people hire personal assistants in the home, where they can handle similar tasks along with taking care of pets, picking up groceries, dropping off and/or picking up kids, etc.

Typically, the soft skills of a personal assistant are more consistent than the tasks they perform in various roles. For example, these people are calm under pressure, able to multitask, efficient, self-motivated, and have good communication skills. They're also good managers and they have good attention to detail.

A typical job listing for a personal assistant could include duties like:

  • Sending, receiving, and managing physical and virtual mail
  • Scheduling appointments and meetings, and managing schedules
  • Preparing documents for meetings, creating and distributing memos, preparing presentations, etc.
  • Making and following up on travel arrangements and other business matters
  • Taking notes and conducting research
  • Managing various projects or tasks as assigned

As you can see, there’s a lot that you can do with a personal assistant. It would be impossible to make an exhaustive list of potential duties or abilities because this is a role that is varied in so many different ways. 

Personal assistants vs receptionists

A lot of people ask what the difference is between a personal assistant and a receptionist. In some cases, not much. In other instances, they fill different roles. For example, Joe might have a personal assistant to manage his calendar and take care of his business-related errands, but the receptionist covers the front desk and answers the phones as the first line of communication for the company. 

However, Sarah might have a solopreneur-type business or SMB where one person takes on multiple roles. In that instance, she might hire a personal assistant OR virtual receptionist that doubles as both and fulfills her various needs. In some cases, it’s a matter of semantics. In others, it’s a different job position. 

Ultimately, when you’re hiring help, it’s more about what they can offer than what you call them. A title is a title, but someone capable of taking the tedious details off your plate and handling a lot of the little stresses is going to be immeasurably helpful to you regardless of what you call them. Remember that, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the right person for the job whether it’s an assistant, a receptionist, or anyone else. 

The assorted hiring costs

There are several different things that you’ll have to spend money on when you’re bringing on any employee, including a personal assistant. Although the exact expenses that you encounter will vary slightly, some categories will be on everyone’s list. It starts, of course, with the actual investment of hiring someone—finding employees isn’t free. 

Sourcing and recruiting

Although you can find much more affordable options for sourcing and recruiting these days, it’s generally still going to cost something to post job listings, screen candidates, and look for the help that you need. Make sure that you budget for this accordingly and come up with a recruiting strategy that suits your financial situation as much as your personal assistant needs. Take advantage of your website, social media, and word-of-mouth to help you fill positions without spending as much on job boards, but don’t rule them out.


Training and onboarding

This is another area where you’re not getting off free of charge. Even if you only invest your own time to train an employee and bring them on board, that’s still time you could be spending doing other things, so it’s productivity toward the business lost. Any additional training and onboarding expenses should also be factored in here, although, for a personal assistant, those will probably be minimal since training isn’t really a huge requirement in this role. 

This is a position that is better taught by experience and being shown what to do and how to do things. You could take the time to create a dedicated training program for a personal assistant if you wanted, but it’s not necessary by any means. Usually, a little briefing on the company and the expectations will go a lot further than you think. 

Salary and benefits

According to Indeed.com, the average personal assistant makes about $13-$14 per hour. However, some executive assistants or PAs that are in charge of more duties may earn as much as $18-$20 per hour. You’ll have to decide what you need from a PA and what that’s worth in terms of the salary you offer. For example, if you just need a part-time assistant to handle emails and scheduling, you could probably find someone at the entry-level for a lower rate. However, if you need an executive-level assistant that’s familiar with managing every aspect of your C-level position, including your meetings, communications, etc., you could spend much more on their salary to get what you need. 

And then it doesn’t stop with their hourly pay. You also have to factor in any benefits that you offer. Do you provide health insurance? Perhaps you give your assistant paid time off. Or, you could pay for monthly company lunches, cover the cost of parking, and so forth. All of these little perks attract great talent, but they also add up quickly. Make sure that when you’re budgeting to hire help, you keep this in mind. 

Overhead and other costs

Having an employee, even on a contract basis, means that you’re probably going to have expenses of some kind related to that. Do you provide technology for remote workers? Perhaps you’ve got an in-office assistant and have to provide them with office space and so forth. All that is going to cost money. If you hire someone virtually, you’ll have fewer of these expenses because people can get their own office needs and then take them as tax deductions for home office use. 

Of course, the best companies provide all employees with the tools and resources they need to perform their job to the best of their abilities. That means if you’re investing in an assistant, you should also be prepared to invest in the tools that they need to do the best job possible. 

In the “other costs” category, we’ve got to cover some essential employee expenses. If you hire a personal assistant, you will be required to pay taxes, including unemployment tax and FICA taxes. You will also need to have the proper professional liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage. Make sure that you have all these things in place, even if you hire someone to work 10 or 15 hours a week. 

In-house vs hiring remotely

Some people need an assistant available, physically, and on hand to handle various tasks. For example, if you want an assistant to pick up your dry cleaning and get the snacks ready for the meeting, a virtual worker won’t do. However, if you’re looking for someone to simply manage schedules and field messages, manage your social media, and so forth, a virtual assistant might not be a bad investment. After all, you’ll be able to have access to better talent because you aren’t limited by regional restrictions. 

Plus, when you hire remotely, you’ll have a few different options. You could always just hire an employee but keep them remote, which would lower the costs. However, the other option, outsourcing, offers a two-fold solution. You can choose to outsource to an independent contractor that provides personal assistant services to various companies and professionals. Or, you can choose to outsource to a third-party assistant or virtual receptionist service. 

The latter will deliver dynamic solutions for a fraction of the cost of hiring an employee and often provide you with a team of agents instead of just one person to handle your needs. Plus, when you choose the best virtual receptionists, you’ll get a customized plan for managing all of your needs, too. 

If you have the need and budget for a full-time or even part-time assistant in-house, you can go that route if it works for you. If, however, you’re looking for other options or just think that having an employee isn’t the right fit, consider outsourcing or hiring remotely to save money and get more solutions for what you do spend. Another reason to outsource is if you don’t have the time or energy to manage one more person. Sure, an assistant would be nice, but then you’d still have to tell them what to do, etc. 

Hiring a virtual receptionist (or a team of them) allows you to set up a plan so that they can handle it all while you handle other business, creating the perfect solution for many businesses on a budget. 

Get more for your money when you partner with the team at Smith.ai instead

Sure, a personal assistant at your beck and call sounds nice, but what about a team of dedicated agents that are ready to handle all of your needs, even before you realize you need them? And what if you could get that at a fraction of what a personal assistant would cost? You’d probably say it’s impossible. We’re happy to tell you that you’re incorrect. 

At Smith.ai, that’s exactly what we do. Our dedicated virtual receptionists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will deliver all of the solutions that you need for handling things like scheduling, lead qualification and intake, after-hours answering, and even fielding the live chats from your website. And when your needs change, just let us know and we’ll change with them. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can be your 24/7 solution for assistance, from communications to admin and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

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Written by Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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Take the faster path to growth.
Get Smith.ai today.

Affordable plans for every budget.