What’s the Difference Between a Virtual Assistant (VA) and a Virtual Executive Assistant (EA)?

Posted by: GiGi Sheppard Category: Executive Assistant, Virtual Assistant, Virtual Staffing Tags: , , , , Comments: 0

Some would think a virtual assistant is the same thing as a virtual executive assistant. The answer, of course, is that they are not the same thing. In fact, there are some important differences between the two. But we understand that this is a confusing topic for those outside the industry, so this blog was created to clarify things.

We’re going to discuss the similarities and differences between a virtual assistant and a virtual executive assistant. By the end of the post, you’ll have the info you need to make an informed decision.

  1. They both perform admin tasks

While both perform admin tasks such as answering phones and responding to customer enquiries, they provide support to different levels of the business.

A virtual assistant (VA) normally works as part of a larger team. If you already have admin workers, you can hire a VA to support them in their tasks. This is a great way to save money because a VA is cheaper than hiring a new full-time staff member.

Perhaps your admin workers are already swamped, and they don’t have time to answer the phones. The result is that customers are calling and leaving messages without speaking to anybody. This is bad for business because it seems unprofessional.

In this case, you could hire a VA to support your team. A VA could answer the calls and pass long the appropriate messages and instructions to your busy staff members.

A virtual executive assistant, on the other hand, won’t support your general admin workers (except indirectly). Rather, they will report to you personally. They’ll plan and discuss their work with business owners or a high-level executives.

A virtual executive assistant will answer your personal line. He or she will form relationships with the people who have direct access to you (or your c-level executives). This entails a level of personalized service that a regular VA may not handle. Which brings us to our next point.

  1. Virtual Executive Assistants Are More Experienced Than Regular VA’s

Working for entrepreneurs or high-level executives takes much more experience than providing general support for the wider admin team. There’s a lot more responsibility because the boss cannot afford to make mistakes. If a VA makes a small error, it won’t affect the entire business. But if a virtual executive assistant makes a mistake, it could hurt the entire company.

For this reason, executive assistants must possess a much vaster and wider range of experience than a regular VA. They need to be battle-tested with a long record of excellent service. For example, one of our founders worked with a powerful CEO for 6 years. During that time, she learned the responsibilities and pressures of the job. When we recruit executive assistants, we look for extensive experience and impressive recommendations and referrals from influential executives.

A VA is not on the same level as an executive assistant, but please don’t misunderstand. Our VA’s are all incredibly competent professionals who possess experience and world-class training. Many will go on to become executive assistants in the future. But although they’re extremely competent and well-trained, they’re not yet ready to provide support for top executives.

It’s similar to the army. You get excellent, competent soldiers who have a long, rich career ahead of themselves. But they’re not quite ready for promotion yet.

  1. They Both Go Beyond Simple Admin Work

We already mentioned that both types of assistant can perform admin work, except they support different levels of the business.

But both types of assistant also go beyond simple admin tasks. You can assign a wide variety of tasks to virtual assistants.

For example, if you want to perform some quick competitor research, you could assign the task to either a virtual assistant or an executive assistant.

But here’s the thing: in almost all cases, you will receive more detailed, more experienced, more nuanced information from an executive assistant. Why?

It’s simply because of the experience gap. A virtual executive assistant has so much experience that he or she will notice patterns and strategies and details that a virtual assistant will miss.

In the case of research, a VA could gather all the necessary information, but an executive assistant could interpret it and write a report about it. An executive assistant could even, if asked, give insight into potential strategies to grow the business. This is something that you wouldn’t ask regular VA.

  1. One is a Helper, the Other is a Partner

A VA is a junior employee that you wouldn’t expect to help you with your decision making. When you hire a new admin worker to take the phones, for example, you wouldn’t expect him or her to liaise with the top sales agents and executives.

But executive assistants can network with anybody. They’ve developed charisma and soft skills over a long period of time. Although they’re not presumptuous people (they accommodate the personal needs of their executives), they can act as partners if the situation calls for it.

They can be approached as advisors and offer counsel if you’re having trouble with a decision and need some new input. They can be respected and trusted as advanced business professionals.  A typical VA wouldn’t perform such high-level functions.


Hopefully this article cleared up some of the common misconceptions about VA’s and executive assistants. But there is only so much information that we can put into a blog post. If you to know more, the best thing to do is to schedule a free consultation. Because each business is unique, we recommend that you get in touch so that we can quickly analyze your needs and explain whether you need a VA or a virtual executive assistant.

At SAGE, we have a solution for whatever your needs are. SAGE Virtual Staffing assists businesses by providing and managing their virtual staffing needs, creative projects and virtual assistants.

SAGE Executive Assistants are an elite team of remote executive assistants who support a variety of professionals, such as c-level executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and brokerage firms.

At SAGE we’re here for you when you need us handling you remote executive administrative tasks or virtual assistant duties so that our clients can focus on-closing deals, meeting deadlines, building their businesses and relationships.  Schedule a meeting with GiGi to chat about your needs and we’ll customize an option that’ll work for you.

Need Help? Chat with us