Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Personal/Executive Assistants

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Income
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Fees
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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for personal/executive assistants are somewhat limited as employment is projected to decrease. Finding a job may be difficult for inexperienced personal assistants and it may be easier to enter the profession through a general administration role. Senior executive assistant roles are highly competitive.

How to become a personal/executive assistant

What they do

Personal/executive assistants help teams, managers and other professionals by performing administrative tasks such as organising meetings and events, taking minutes, managing and drafting documents and correspondence, arranging travel and diary management. Executive Assistants to senior executives may be included in the senior management team, be involved in strategic discussions and manage direct reports.

Qualifications

There are no specific entry requirements to work as a personal/executive assistant, but most employers prefer to hire people with relevant experience or qualifications.

Relevant qualifications can be certificates or diplomas in office administration, or even degrees in areas such as business and administration. Working in some organisations may require certain qualifications. For example, law firms prefer personal/executive assistants with a basic knowledge of law.

A National Certificate in Business Administration (Level 4) would improve job prospects. The more advanced National Diploma in Business Administration (Level 5) can be achieved through workplace assessment.

Personal/Executive Assistants need to have good to excellent computer and word-processing skills, administration skills, sound judgement, initiative and knowledge of policies, systems and procedures.

As some Personal/Executive Assistants may be exposed to confidential company or industry information, a high level of integrity is a valuable asset.

Cost of study

There are many different qualifications that can be relevant, and costs will vary between the different institutions. Some polytechnics may have zero-fee schemes. Check with the desired qualification providers for details about costs.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills 
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz 
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Where to study

Many universities, polytechnics and other training institutions offer relevant business and administration courses. Some Business Administration qualifications are available through workplace assessment. There are several relevant courses, conferences and professional development opportunities for personal/executive assistants available year round. Many employers have professional development budgets to cover these.

Professional Registration

Administrators may register with the Association of Administration Professionals NZ (AAPNZ). 

Registration is voluntary but members can work towards AAPNZ certification, which can improve skills and work prospects. Achievement of AAPNZ certification requires a Level 5 diploma or above, plus other criteria.

Further information on this can be found on the AAPNZ website.

AAPNZ, certification: aapnz.org.nz/certification.aspx

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Level 4 Certificate in Office Administration has fallen in recent years. Around 600 students graduated in 2014, around half the number graduating in 2010. Part of this trend could be caused by new qualifications at other levels.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

The annual income for personal/executive assistants is estimated to be around $47,000. The income for personal/executive assistants depends on their experience and skill level and sector they work in. Executive assistants can earn substantially more.

Estimated Average Income
$47,000

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Personal assistants’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
22,722 17,766 10,346 6,271
  -3.5% -7.4% -9.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the wider category “Personal Assistants and Secretaries”.

The number of personal assistants in employment fell from 2006 to 2013. This fall is expected to continue, with a strong decrease in employment projected out to 2025. Employment in 2025 is projected to be roughly one-third of what it was in 2013. This sharp fall in employment means it is likely to be difficult for new graduates to get into this occupation.

Employment chart

   

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Personal/executive assistants are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for personal/executive assistants decreased at a faster rate than the average for all vacancies in 2008-2010. Since then, there has been some growth, but at a slower rate than the average for all vacancies. The number of vacancies in 2015 was still far below what it was in 2008. This means that finding a job has become harder for personal/executive assistants.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Personal/executive assistant vacancies are advertised through public media such as TradeMe Jobs, Seek and NZ Government Jobs websites. They are often also in the Vacancies section of individual organisation’s websites and many are placed with recruitment agencies.

TradeMe Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs 
Seek: www.seek.co.nz 
NZ Government Jobs: www.jobs.govt.nz

Career path

Although there is no clear career path for personal/executive assistants, the skills and experience are highly transferable to a number of roles. As personal assistants gain experience and skills they may start working for increasingly more senior staff within an organisation.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level personal assistants.

  • Admin Worker
  • Administrator
  • Board Secretary
  • Executive Assistant
  • Legal Secretary
  • Medical Secretary
  • Office Administrator
  • Office Manager
  • PA
  • Receptionist
  • Secretary
  • Team Administrator
  • Team Leader

Other information

Links

More information on personal assistants is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of personal assistants has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

521 – Personal Assistants and Secretaries