What is the difference between an executive assistant and an administrative assistant? It’s a question we often hear when we bring new assistants into our connect network.

The two titles are often confused and used interchangeably. But while the roles are similar, and many duties overlap, there are key differences.

Understanding the difference between an Executive Assistant (EA) and an Administrative Assistant (AA) helps ensure you hire the right person for your company’s needs.

What is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant supports your company’s executive or senior employees. In a large company, an EA supports a single executive. Smaller companies often have an EA for the whole executive team.

An executive assistant is an executive’s right-hand person and gatekeeper. EAs ensure senior managers work at their optimum levels and don’t waste time on low value tasks.

Executive Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

Executive assistants wear a lot of hats. 

Some of the primary responsibilities of an executive assistant are:

  • Taking calls and responding to emails
  • Arranging meetings and calendar management
  • Planning events and travel
  • Managing client relationships
  • Managing projects 
  • Preparing reports, presentations, and agendas
  • Taking meeting minutes
  • Training new staff
  • Accounting and bookkeeping

Most Common Job Requirements for an Executive Assistant

Executive assistants need to have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate. Most companies also require an executive assistant to have a college degree. EA’s also need experience in an administrative role.

Key Executive Assistant Skills

Executive assistants need a variety of skills.

The key skills an executive assistant needs are:

  • Verbal and Written Communication. EAs need to communicate with other employees, clients, and vendors in a professional manner.
  • Decision-making and Resourcefulness. EAs need to help executives with strategic business decisions in high-pressure situations.
  • Attention to Detail. EAs fix any mistakes before emails or reports go out to clients.
  • Ability to Think Ahead. EAs anticipate an executive’s needs and detect problems early.
  • Organization. EAs have to juggle multiple projects and plan schedules for busy executives.
  • Trustworthiness. An EA is an executive’s trusted confidant who often handles delicate and confidential business information.
  • Flexibility. EAs need to help with urgent matters or to meet deadlines. EAs also accompany executives to events and on business trips.
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Executive Assistant Titles

While “executive assistant” is the most widely used term, executive assistant titles vary from company to company.

Other titles for executive assistant roles are:

  • Executive administrative assistant
  • Administrative business partner
  • Executive team coordinator

What is an Administrative Assistant?

An administrative assistant performs clerical and administrative duties in order to help your workplace run smoothly. An AA provides support to all company employees or to a specific department.

Administrative Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

Administrative assistants also have a lot of responsibilities.

Some of the primary responsibilities of an administrative assistant are:

  • Taking calls and responding to emails
  • Arranging meetings and calendar management
  • Maintaining documents and filing systems
  • Tracking office inventory and ordering supplies
  • Handling technology and office equipment
  • Planning events and travel
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Researching and drafting reports
  • Greeting and directing visitors

Most Common Job Requirements for an Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants need to have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate. Some roles also require an associate’s degree. Additional certifications can help candidates stand out. 

Key Administrative Assistant Skills

Administrative assistants also need a variety of skills.

The key skills an administrative assistant needs are:

  • Organization. To maintain a company filing system, keep on top of communication, and maximize an office’s productivity.
  • Time Management. AAs need to plan their own time as well as others’ schedules.
  • Multitasking and Adaptability. AAs need to jump around to different tasks and anticipate the needs of the people they support.
  • Technologically Savvy. AAs help with technology-related problems and implement new processes.
  • Verbal and Written Communication Skills. AAs need to communicate with other employees, clients, and vendors in a professional manner.

Administrative Assistant Titles

People call administrative assistants by a lot of different names. 

Other titles for administrative assistant roles are:

  • Administrative coordinator
  • Administrative services officer
  • Administrative services manager
  • Administrative specialist
  • Administrative support assistant
  • Office assistant
  • Office administrator
  • Manager of office operations

Some companies even like to have fun with their AA titles, calling them things like:

  • Scheduling wizard
  • Workflow guru
  • Captain of multitasking 

Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant: Key Differences

If you’re still struggling to see how executive assistant and administrative assistant roles are different, let’s compare the two.


Many duties and responsibilities of an executive assistant and an administrative assistant overlap. The main difference is that an executive assistant provides dedicated higher-level support to executives. An administrative assistant supports the entire company or a whole department.

One example is that an AA would manage your general company email account. However, an EA would manage correspondence for one specific person.

Both an AA and EA deal with administrative and clerical tasks around the office. However, an EA helps with more crucial business-related tasks like managing projects and client services. An AA might check a client in when they arrive at your office, but an EA would help manage that client relationship directly.

EAs also are trusted with more confidential information and are expected to have more business insight. As a result, you should turn to your EA for help devising business strategies or come up with creative solutions to problems.

Finally, executive assistants may oversee and train other staff in your office, possibly including administrative assistants. 


Candidates for both positions need to have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate at least. But, many companies prefer to hire assistants with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. 


An administrative assistant role requires less experience, so it is an entry-level position. But, executive assistants need years of experience to develop the necessary skills.

Administrative assistants often move up into executive assistant roles after gaining relevant experience.


Due to the greater responsibilities and experience requirements, executive assistants earn more than administrative assistants.

The median executive assistant salary in the U.S. is $56,799. Salaries range from $39,000 and $81,000.

The median salary of an administrative assistant is about $40,000. Salaries range from $29,000 and $57,000. 

Executive Assistant Meaning for Your Company

Understanding the difference between an executive assistant and an administrative assistant is crucial. If you’re not aware of the different duties and skills, you might end up hiring the wrong person.

If you’re looking for high-level support for your executive team, you should hire an executive assistant. But if you’re looking for administrative and clerical support for the entire office, an administrative assistant is the way to go.

LifeSquire Connect can help you find the perfect executive assistant for your business. We take the stress out of the executive assistant hiring process by helping to find, interview, and train the right candidate. Contact us for more information about our executive assistant recruiting services.


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