Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant: Key Differences

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When running a business or managing a busy lifestyle, having the support of an assistant can make a world of difference. If you are looking to hire an assistant, you will need to decide whether a personal assistant or executive assistant is the right fit for the support you need.

Executive and personal assistants are often confused due to their overlapping skill sets. While they share some similarities, there are core responsibilities and areas of expertise that make these types of assistants distinct.

In this blog, we explain the differences between a personal assistant vs executive assistant, helping you to hire the best professional for your needs.

Personal Assistant Explained

So, what is a personal assistant? A personal assistant (PA) provides comprehensive support to teams and senior staff in a business. PAs ensure that your professional and, occasionally, your personal life is organised and efficient, helping to reduce stress and enhance your time management. They do this by handling a wide range of responsibilities, from booking appointments to running personal errands to managing expenses.

What Is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant (EA) provides administrative support to high-level executives within a company. The main goal of an executive assistant is to optimise your time, allowing you to focus on more strategic business activities. They do this by handling a wide range of administrative tasks, as well as complex projects that require deep business understanding.

Key Differences Between PA and EA

Both PAs and EAs offer critical support, but their focus and responsibilities vary. Typically, an EA is considered a more senior role title than PA, however this is in no way standard across the board. Understanding the key differences will help you hire a personal assistant or recruit an executive assistant with confidence, knowing that you have chosen the right professional for the job.

Core Responsibilities

Personal assistants have a wide range of duties and responsibilities to make you and / or your team’s day-to-day more organised and manageable. Administrative tasks can include diary management, travel planning, correspondence, and taking minutes in meetings. If the role encompasses personal support, they can help you by scheduling appointments, handling household projects, and planning personal events.

There are also different types of PAs that offer a tailored approach to suit different needs and lifestyles. For example, a family office PA will handle professional and personal tasks for a family, while a private PA will focus on personal tasks for an individual. That means the exact responsibilities of a PA will depend on your unique needs.

Executive assistants usually provide 1:1 support and act as the executive’s right hand, ensuring that all business-related matters are taken care of efficiently. Their responsibilities include managing schedules and calendars, handling correspondence, organising business travel arrangements, and overseeing expenses. In specific cases, an EA can provide additional personal support.

Who They Support

Personal assistants are versatile professionals who can support a wide array of individuals or employers with both professional and personal tasks. Whether you are an entrepreneur juggling the demands of your business, a busy individual trying to balance a hectic schedule, or a family in need of organisational help, a PA can be an asset. A PA can support one individual or multiple executives within a business.

Private personal assistants can also offer support high profile and publicly known individuals. These celebrity PAs will provide a wide range of professional and personal support, often working long hours and in a highly pressurised environment.

Executive assistants will provide professional support to one individual in a high-level position, such as a CEO, managing director, or other senior executive in an organisation. They may also manage other assistants or administrative staff, offering seamless management of your wider support team.

Professional Background

Personal assistants typically have varied professional backgrounds. Their experience may include roles in administration, customer service, or event planning. This versatility ensures that they can handle a wide range of tasks to keep your professional and personal life running smoothly.

Executive assistants often have a more specialised background in business administration or a related field. They possess strong professional skills, including advanced communication, project management, and strategic planning abilities. Their expertise allows them to handle complex business tasks and support senior executives efficiently.


Personal assistant roles typically don’t require specific qualifications, however many employers do prefer a PA to have a degree. Soft skills, such as adaptability and discretion, are also viewed as more important than qualifications because of the often-personal nature of the role.

Many executive assistants will have a bachelor’s degree, as well as hold additional certifications in executive support. EAs need a robust understanding of the business environment to provide effective support to senior executives.

Decision-making Authority

Personal assistants may have some autonomy in decision-making regarding administrative processes and arrangements. For example, a PA may rearrange your meetings to best suit your schedule or change an accommodation booking to better match your preferences. Trusting your PA to make calls on your behalf is essential as it allows you to focus on your priorities while they streamline your day-to-day.

Executive assistants have significant decision-making authority in the business context. They often make judgment calls on scheduling, communications, and project priorities, acting in the best interest of the executive and the company. All decisions that the EA makes will need to be reported back to the senior executive.


A personal assistant salary will depend on various factors, such as their level of experience, the scope of responsibilities, and your industry. In general, you can expect a PA salary to be upwards of CH85,000.

Like a PA, an executive assistant salary will also depend on several factors. In general, you can expect an EA salary to be CH95,000 or more, depending on their experience, the scope of the role, and the location of your business.

Ready To Hire a PA?

At Tiger Recruitment, we understand the importance of finding the right support for your business or lifestyle needs. Whether you’re looking to streamline your personal life or enhance your business operations, knowing how to hire an PA is the first step towards greater efficiency and peace of mind. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through the PA recruitment process, ensuring you find the perfect match.

Frequently asked questions

Is an EA a personal assistant?

While similar, an executive assistant is different from a personal assistant. An executive assistant provides support to senior executives in a 1:1 capacity, while personal assistants can provide professional support to teams and / or individuals. Private PAs offer personal support to HNWI.

Is an executive assistant higher than a personal assistant?

Executive assistants are often in a higher-level position within an organisation compared to personal assistants. EAs support senior executives and have a more direct impact on business operations, while PAs offer professional support to individuals or teams.

How much do top executive assistants make?

Top executive assistants can command high salaries for the level of responsibility and support they offer to senior executives. Salaries vary widely depending on industry, location, and experience, but top EAs in Switzerland can earn CH95,000 or more. Request a copy of our salary and benefits review for the latest data.

Author Jane Leese Tiger Recruitment Team

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