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How Much Should You Pay For An Executive Assistant in 2023?

Written by: Katie Hill

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about an executive assistant earning a jaw-dropping $400,000.

While this example is a bit extreme, companies are still shelling out huge salaries for do-it-all executive assistants. In major cities, a high-level EA salary can be upwards of $120,000 or more.

In the past, only the most senior execs have had this type of high-end assistant.

However, remote executive assistants have become the norm at corporations looking to control costs and streamline hiring. These companies are oftentimes able to get the same quality of work and high-level experience without the overhead and commitment of a full-time, in-person staff member. An experienced, US-based remote executive assistant will cost roughly $35-60/hour.

If you are simply looking to delegate one-off tasks such as data entry, answering phone calls, or handling some online research, you can get away with paying even less. There are platforms offering pools of virtual assistants that will do such work for $10/hr.

So how much should you be paying? In short, it depends on the kind of support and how much support you’ll need.

What’s The ROI Of An Executive Assistant?

An easy way of calculating what you should pay for an executive assistant is by looking at ROI instead of an hourly wage. After all, a high-level trusted EA can easily increase your productivity by 15-20%

A simple cost/benefit analysis can determine how much time you could save and the value of that time.

Here’s how to run the numbers:

  1. Take an honest look at your administrative workload. For 2-4 weeks, keep track of how many hours you spend each day on tasks that could be off-loaded to a trusted assistant. It isn’t uncommon for this to average of 2+ hours a day.
  2. Estimate the value of that time. 2 hours a day adds up to 40 hours a month. That’s a full work week or 15-25% of your time spent on administrative tasks! What type of business impact would an extra week have on your bottom line or critical projects?

At a minimum, the ROI of an executive assistant would be your hourly salary x the time you spend on administrative tasks.

But when you start to imagine what is possible with that extra time, the ROI increases exponentially.

Chart illustrating examples of how the ROI of an executive assistant can increase as the value of an executive's time increases.

Could you close an extra deal? Develop a new product line? Take on a strategic project that will drive growth next year? Make your staff more productive? Alternatively, if you are working “insane hours,” think of the cost of an EA as an investment in your health and building a sustainable work/life balance.

If you can use that previously mentioned 15-25% of administrative time to generate $2,500 of impact each month (only $30,000 per year), spending about $2,000 each month on a high-caliber fractional executive assistant delivers a strong return on investment.

And the ROI only goes up from there.

At Boldly, we find that 2–4 hours per day is enough for a fractional EA or VA to radically shift an executive’s work.

What Factors Influence An Executive Assistant’s Salary?

a chart describing the six factors that influence an executive assistant's salary: experience, remote vs. in-person, location, fractional vs. full-time, caliber of support, and hiring vs. contracting

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rubric for determining an EA salary, there are a number of factors that can determine the cost, including:

  • Previous Experience – Understandably, the more years of experience an executive assistant has, the more you’ll pay. Glassdoor estimates that the salary for an EA with 7-9 years of experience is 21% higher than someone in the same role with only one year of experience. It’s also important to consider both the years of experience as well as the specific roles an EA has had.
  • Remote vs. In-Person – If you’ll need an EA to bring you coffee or handle other in-person tasks and you live in a high-cost market, you’ll pay a premium for an in-office EA. An in-office employee can easily cost 18% to 26% more than their base salary. By contrast, there are a number of remote staffing options that connect you with a virtual EA.
  • Fractional vs. Full Time – Do you need someone for just a few hours or will you need your EA to be available around the clock? A part-time or fractional executive assistant can be a more efficient use of company resources as you only pay for the time you need.
  • Caliber Of Support You Need – While this often correlates with an EA’s level of experience, the factor here is more closely related to how much you’ll need to trust your EA to represent you. If you merely need someone to be a task manager, that will often be less expensive than finding an EA who can step in as a trusted partner.
  • Location – Executive assistants in major cities and metropolitan areas typically earn 15-24% more. For example, according to data collected by Salary.com, in San Jose, CA, the average salary of an executive assistant is $103,000, while the average salary in Norman, OK is $74,000.
  • Hiring vs. Contracting (W2 vs. 1099) – A direct hire (W2) will almost always be more expensive, even if the employee is remote or part-time, since you’ll be required to pay for taxes, benefits, and more. In addition, you’ll be on the hook for the cost of finding, hiring, training, and retaining an EA. Hiring a contractor can be less expensive and you aren’t locked into the commitment/costs of hiring, but it has downsides and risks — especially if you want someone for the long term. For something in the middle, consider subscription staffing. You’ll pay a premium hourly rate to access long-term W2 employees of a staffing firm with the flexibility to scale up or down.
Get an experienced, high-level executive assistant — without the headaches of hiring. Learn more.

Topic: Remote Executive Assistant

Updated on January 13th, 2023

About the author: Katie Hill is a Content Writer at Boldly, which offers Premium Subscription Staffing for demanding executives and founders. When she isn't writing about remote work or productivity, she can be found adventuring in Colorado's backcountry.