Salary Differences Between Administrative Assistants & Executive Assistants

by Leyla Norman; Updated September 26, 2017
Administrative assistants' positions are less complicated than executive assistants' jobs.

Administrative assistants and executive assistants perform similar duties in the role of administrative support. However, executive assistants work for top executives and perform more high-level tasks, such as preparing statistical reports, arranging meetings, and training junior clerical staff members. In most situations, the job title executive assistant commands a slightly higher salary than that of administrative assistant.

Administrative Assistants

Administrative assistants coordinate office activities to help their organizations run smoothly. They manage projects, conduct research and send out information by phone, email and websites. They may arrange travel, maintain electronic and paper files, keep office equipment in proper repair, use fax machines and copiers, and perform other administrative and clerical tasks. Entry-level administrative assistant positions require only about one year of experience in most cases, while intermediate positions typically require three to five years of experience. Those in senior-level positions work under more general supervision than junior administrative assistants. Those in intermediate and senior positions can exercise more independent judgment in their work.

Executive Assistants

Executive assistants usually work directly for the chief executive officer of a company or another company officer. They might provide support to more than one executive. Executive assistants often supervise support staff and make decisions in the absence of the executive. They generally have fewer clerical tasks than administrative assistants. Their responsibilities include more information management tasks, such as reviewing incoming reports before distribution, preparing agendas for high-level meetings, and performing research or preparing statistical reports.

Executive Assistant Salary Range

The average salary of executive assistants was $45,860 per year, or $22.05 per hour, as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 10th, or lowest-paid, percentile made up to $28,740 per year, or $13.82 per hour, and the 25th percentile earned up to $34,920 per year, or $16.79 per hour. The median annual salary was $43,520, or $20.92 per hour. The 75th percentile earned up to $54,750 per year, or $26.32 per hour, on average, while the top 10 percent in the 90th percentile averaged at least $67,000 per year.

Administrative Assistant Salary Range

The average salary of an administrative assistant was $32,000, or $15.38 per hour, as of May 2010, according to the BLS. The bottom 10th percentile earned up to $19,690 per year, or $9.47 an hour on average. The 25th percentile earned up to $24,710 per year, or $11.88 per hour. The median yearly salary was $30,830, or $14.82 per hour. The highest earners made up to $38,160 per year, or $18.35, in the 75th percentile, while those in the 90th percentile made at least $46,430 per year, or $22.32 per hour, nationwide.

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.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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