If you have terrific organizational skills and aren't easily overwhelmed, a career as an executive assistant -- sometimes also called an executive secretary -- might be a good career choice. If this is a career to which you aspire, keep in mind that you'll also need to hone your computer and interpersonal skills; no one wants a cranky executive assistant whose reports are riddled with typos. If you've got what it takes, the pay for executive assistants is usually higher than other forms of secretarial work.
Average National Pay
The average pay for an executive assistant in the United States was $24.14 an hour and $50,220 a year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates in May 2012. Fifty percent of executive assistants reported annual earnings of between $38,030 and $60,130, and the payoff for some was even bigger: the highest-paid 10 percent of all executive assistants made $73,530 or more per year.
Earnings by Industry
The expected income for an executive assistant can vary considerably by industry. As of 2012, the highest average pay was reported by those in the securities and commodity exchanges industry, $65,320 per year. Executive assistants to independent artists and writers also fared well, with an average income of $63,930, as did executive assistants in the film industry, who averaged $62,470. Colleges and universities employed more executive assistants than any other industry, and paid an average of $47,460 per year -- the same average pay offered by elementary and secondary schools. Government agencies also employ a considerable number of executive assistants, paying an average of $50,960 at the local level and $43,780 at the state level.
Earnings by State
In addition to pay variances by industry, estimates published by the BLS indicate that the average pay for executive assistants varied considerably by location as well. New York offered the highest average income, $64,890, followed by New Jersey at $59,210, Connecticut at $59,120 and Maryland at $56,360. Many of the lowest pay rates were reported in the Southeast, although the very lowest average pay by state -- $35,580 -- was reported in South Dakota.
According to the BLS, positions for executive assistants are expected to grow at a rate of 13 percent through 2020, creating an estimated 156,000 new jobs. Additional positions will become available as current workers retire. Despite growth, jobseekers will likely face competition due to the relatively high pay of executive assistant positions. Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree may have an edge when it comes to finding employment.
2016 Salary Information for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,730 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, secretaries and administrative assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,990,400 people were employed in the U.S. as secretaries and administrative assistants.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
- Career Trend: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants