5 Key Differences Between Virtual Assistants and Personal Assistants

Breaking news! Virtual assistants and personal assistants are not the same thing. Contrary to what many might think, the two terms are far from synonymous. Am I saying there isn’t some overlap between each role? Of course not. But being a VA, I’d hate for people to confuse my title with a personal assistant.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a post just for me to rant and rave about how dense misinformed some people can be. I’m here to educate. Now it’s not uncommon for people to see the term “virtual assistant” and think “personal assistant.” The problem there is that we’re simply not the same type of person. More often than not, VAs specialize in some specific skill while still being fairly competent in a variety of other areas. In contrast, PAs are regularly seen doing solely administrative work.

While a virtual assistant may offer the same administrative support as a personal assistant, personal assistants don’t provide the flexibility that a virtual assistant does. VAs can work remotely from their own offices. Workplaces don’t have to worry about providing a working space or equipment. Their ability to work remotely also frees up business owners from having to supervise assignments and tasks. Personal assistants, while working on-site, work directly under someone and are consistently assigned specific tasks and being supervised.

Personal assistants are meant to work with one person or company, hence the term personal. Virtual assistants, on the other hand, are able to have a multitude of  clients, as well as hire any number of team members to help with said clients. VAs are much more entrepreneurial than PAs; they typically run their own business and choose nearly every aspect of their work life.

I could probably find someone to list about ten more reasons as to why the difference between VAs and PAs is so important, but I think I just about covered the important bits. Don’t you think? Again, all of this isn’t to say that working styles and certain points can’t overlap between the two types of assistants. Personal assistants are very capable of working online, and there are some virtual assistants who offer personal assistant services. The purpose of this post is simply to make a point that people should really stop using the two terms interchangeably.

TL;DR? Here’s an infographic to help understand some key differences between virtual assistants and personal assistants.


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