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.
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.
According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:
Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool
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.
There are many different qualifications that can be relevant, and costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to feesfree.govt.nz. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation. 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.
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.
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
The number of students completing a Level 4 Certificate in Office Administration has fallen in recent years. Part of this trend could be caused by new qualifications at other levels.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
The annual income for personal/executive assistants is estimated to be around $48,900. 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|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Personal assistants’ employment
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 2026. Employment in 2026 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.
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
The number of online job vacancies for personal/executive assistants has grown, but at a slower rate than the average for all vacancies.
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.
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.
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.
More information on personal assistants is available on the Careers New Zealand website.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
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