Virtual Assistant Salary: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Did you know that according to Statista, in 2018, there were 56.7 million people doing freelance work in the United States?

‘It is projected that in 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States and will make up 50.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce.’
— Source: Statista

The same source also reports:

‘About 32 percent of U.S. freelancers stated that the percentage of freelancing work that they obtained online had increased a lot in the previous year’.

Online employment is not something in the future. It’s here, right now, and many of us have wholeheartedly embraced it.

How about YOU? Have you been thinking of pursuing an online career recently?

If you haven’t, you might be missing out on more than you realize.

And if you have, but aren’t sure where and how to start, you’ve come to the right place.

Mind you:

This is NOT a guide on how to make easy money, but an invaluable resource on how to build a great career!

Work Shifts from Full-time to Free Agent Employment
‘Traditional employment will no longer be the norm, replaced by contingent workers such as freelancers and part-time workers. The long-term trend of hiring contingent workers will continue to accelerate with more than 80 percent of large corporations planning to substantially increase their use of a flexible workforce.’
— Source: The Intuit 2020 Report

Landing a work from home job as a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a perfect way to break into the thriving online work industry.

According to a report quoted by Virtalent, ‘the VA industry will grow at a CAGR of 4.4% between 2018 and 2022’.

So, if you haven’t considered this option before, NOW is the right time, and here’s why.

As the benefits of becoming a Virtual Assistant, online jobs in general, are numerous and far outweigh any minor drawbacks, you should give it a try.

Just to name a few major benefits:

You can work from home, a cafe, a park, a mountain or anywhere else you like as long as there’s an Internet connection.
You set your own rates and your own flexible schedule.
You’re free to choose who you want to work with.
You don’t waste time commuting to the office, and you can enjoy the privilege of spending that extra quality time with your dearest ones.
You save money as you don’t have to pay for transportation or spend cash on business clothes and meals in restaurants.
In short, you are your own boss and work on your own terms.

Connected World of Entepreneurs
Screenshot source: Intuit Future of Small Business Report
Do you doubt that working as a Virtual Assistant is a viable career?

Let’s reassure you and help you to start growing your business and income so that a much wished-for family trip to Disneyland isn’t just a dream but instead becomes a reality.

And why stop at just Disneyland?!

Afford the best possible education for your children. And avoid future headaches when paying for things such as insurance, household, and grocery bills that accrue every month.

This in-depth definitive guide will help you understand a variety of Virtual Assistant job roles, salary ranges, and will teach you how to get started as a home-based VA.

Ready to dive into a whole new world of marvelous opportunities for growth?

Fasten your seatbelt.

Table of Contents
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Make?
What Are Common Virtual Assistant Rates and Job Salary Ranges?
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
Who Typically Works as a Virtual Assistant?
How to Land High Paying Virtual Assistant Jobs?
Can I Start an Online Career Without Any Virtual Assistant Training?
Where to Find Legitimate Virtual Assistant Jobs?
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Make?
Virtual Assistants worldwide can make anywhere between $3 and over $60 per hour.

Some realistic estimates of their monthly income sit between $500 and $800 for general Virtual Assistants, while VAs with specialist skills such as graphic design, copywriting, SEO, web development and other such specialties generate even more money, typically between $800 and $1,500 (sometimes even more).

Yet Virtual Assistants’ pay rates vary greatly throughout the world.

ZipRecruiter, one of the largest recruiting US companies, shows work-from-home Virtual Assistant salary ranges as:

per hour (from as low as $6.97 to as high as $59.86)
per week (from as low as $279 to as high as $2,394)
per month (from as low as $1,208 to as high as $10,375)
per year (from as low as $14,500 to as high as $124,500).
The table below represents the current salary ranges for the majority of home-based Virtual Assistant positions across the United States.

How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Make?
Salary Range Hourly Rates Weekly Earnings Monthly Earnings Annual Salary
Low-end income $13 $538 $2,333 $28,000
Average income $28 $1,100 $4,767 $57,023
High-end income $35 $1,404 $6,083 $73,000
Similarly, according to Indeed, Virtual Assistant salaries in the USA range from $7.25 to $38.40, averaging at $16.15 per hour.

US virtual assistant salary chart
Screenshot source: Indeed.com
Read on to find out what influences Virtual Assistant and other online workers’ earnings.

The amount of money you can make as a VA varies predominantly based on your:

skillset,
experience,
region,
the type of business you work for
and other factors.
Let’s consider each of these key factors now.

How the Level of Expertise Affects a Virtual Assistant’s Income
Skilled Virtual Assistants receive higher wages when compared to general VAs, who haven’t mastered specific skill-sets.

For instance, if you work as a Virtual Assistant for an online store and possess some store administration or copywriting skills, you’ll demand higher rates than a general VA because you know how to:

write compelling product descriptions,
update product details on the store website,
create website banners and product promotions,
select and embed high-quality images in the store web pages and much more.
That’s why it’s critical to the success of every Virtual Assistant’s career to be committed to lifelong learning and to strive for excellence in mastering new skills.

A high level of competence, when paired with work experience, makes a winning combination. We’ll show you how.

Working in co-working space
Image Source: Freepik by Yanalya
How Work Experience Influences a Virtual Assistant’s Earnings
The difference between a beginner and expert-level Virtual Assistant is significant both in terms of employers’ expectations and thus the payment they demand.

It’s logical that the more professional experience you have as a VA, the higher your rates.

Let’s consider the three levels of experience, their effect on a VA’s earning power and the scope of duties expected by an employer.

Beginner Virtual Assistants with a Basic Skill Set Get the Lowest Pay Rate
Newbies with little or no relevant professional experience usually fall into this category.

Due to a lack of proper experience and expertise, these workers are in the lowest payment bracket and their careers progress slowly.

Entry-level VAs and other online workers typically demonstrate routine skills and behaviors such as those outlined below.

Skills of a Beginner VA Common Behaviours of a Beginner VA
Proper use of basic online tools, which they learned at school (e.g. Gmail, MS Word or Google Docs) Usually lack a regular daily routine and see online work as an opportunity to work in pajamas, while watching a basketball game on TV.
The ability to do basic research and collect data from the Internet, but without necessary knowledge on how to assess the data they collected. Enjoy working without any supervision.
Elementary level of grammar and written English skills and the lack of confidence when speaking English. Have NO dedicated workspace. Instead, normally work sitting at the kitchen table or on a couch in front of the TV in the living room while the whole family is around.
The ability to copy/paste or transcribe audio content into blog posts and other website pages, but without the ability to spot and correct any critical layout and formatting issues. Cannot self-assess their performance and comprehend the employer’s goals including the bigger picture, which typically results in being dismissed from jobs without them figuring out the reasons.
If you’re a beginner interested in making headway in your online career, we highly recommend this course; 7 Habits for Online Success.

Experienced Virtual Assistants with Intermediate Skills Receive an Average Income
These VAs have either a few years of relevant online work experience, or they’ve undergone online job training. They demonstrate a thorough understanding of positive online work habits and are committed to their online career.

Experienced VAs have typically acquired the skills and behaviors listed below.

Skills of an Experienced VA Common Behaviors of an Experienced VA
Higher ability to use common online work tools such as MS Office Suite or Google Drive (e.g. can use conditional formatting in Google Sheets to filter data). Very likely to have a regular routine and dedicated workspace which is separated from the family environment.
Advanced written English skills which enable them to create text with NO assistance from native speakers. Ready to invest earnings in high-quality work tools and a better Internet connection because they pursue long-term online work opportunities.
Have a thorough understanding of exemplary document layout and formatting, which they use to enhance communication. Possess the ability to work independently, set short-term and long-term goals, and measure their own productivity.
Can do in-depth research, collect data from the web, and provide low-level analysis with the ability to spot patterns in the data. Still, may not be able to implement any strategic changes. Take responsibility and initiative without having any fear of failure because they observe it as a valuable learning opportunity.
Experienced VAs have also perfected the behaviors and habits fundamental to the success of every serious online worker.

What’s more, experienced Virtual Assistants strive for specializations such as:

customer service,
copywriting,
design,
store administration,
social media marketing and other valuable skills
in order to boost their income and secure a stable and lucrative online career.

Now stay with us as we show you how mastering particular expert skills can raise any VA’s income above the average.

Expert Virtual Assistants with Advanced Skills Earn the Highest Salary
Expert VAs usually have considerable professional experience. And regularly do extensive job-related training to keep abreast of the rapidly growing and ever-changing online work industry.

They are dedicated to developing their skill set so that they can increase their earning capacity.

The typical skills and behaviors that expert VAs display include:

Skills of an Expert VA Common Behaviours of an Expert VA
Commonly have a specialization in at least one related area such as web development, graphic design, copywriting, advertising or social media marketing, etc. which enables them to create monetary value for a company with their advanced skill set. They are reliable, work efficiently due to their fixed, committed daily work routine, and possess the ability to successfully deal with distractions.
Demonstrate outstanding written and spoken English skills with equally exceptional accuracy and fluency so that they can understand complex instructions and perform a wider range of VA tasks. Have a highly positive attitude to online work and a dedicated home office. Alternatively, share an office with friends or work from a co-working space.
Versed users of various helpful tools and apps which enhance online workers’ productivity and make them more competitive.
These individuals have adopted good work routines and have learned how to communicate clearly with their employers as well as other remote team members. This makes them dependable and trustworthy.

These expert skills and traits result in a long-term, secure career with well-paying and reputable online companies.

Not only will employers treat an expert Virtual Assistant with respect, but they’ll also provide them with the highest hourly rates, frequent pay increases, and bonuses.

Now that you know what defines each level of a VA’s expertise and experience, it’s easier to figure out where you’d fit, isn’t it?

Knowing what sort of skills and behavior you need to develop will help you hit your target salary and become successful in the long run.

How Regional Differences Impact Virtual Assistants’ Pay Rates
Salary Negotiation Cheatsheet
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There are huge regional payment gaps in the world of online work, which are dictated by local economies.

On no account does it mean that Virtual Assistants located in the United States are worth more than those who live in the Philippines or Kenya, for example. Neither does it imply that VAs from Indonesia are worth less than those located in the UK, Europe, or the rest of the world.

Different regional pay rates for the same type of job simply reflect the differences in the cost of living across different worldwide economies.

The table below shows how much VA’s get paid in different regions according to their level of competence.

Region-Based Virtual Assistant Pay Rates

General Virtual Assistant VA with copywriting skills VA with design skills VA with customer service skills VA with store administration skills
Average Regional VA Rates
Western Europe $21 $34 $38 $21 $34
South East Asia $16 $27 $25 $16 $21
Africa $14 $32 $24 $16 $19
Western Europe VA Pay Rates
Beginner $11 – $20 $10 – $20 $20 – $35 $10 – $18 $12 – $20
Intermediate $25 – $30 $25 – $45 $40 – $50 $20 – $30 $25 – $35
Expert $35 – $50 $50 – $70 $55 – $70 $35 – $45 $42 – $65
South East Asia VA Pay Rates
Beginner $5 – $12 $6 – $15 $15 – $25 $10 – $15 $10 – $15
Intermediate $20 – $30 $20 – $31 $30 – $40 $15 – $20 $18 – $25
Expert $35 – $45 $40 – $65 $40 – $60 $25 – $30 $25 – $30
Africa VA Rates
Beginner $5 – $12 $6 – $15 $10 – $15 $10 – $12 $10 – $15
Intermediate $15 – $20 $25 – $35 $20 – $30 $15 – $20 $20 – $25
Expert $25 – $35 $40 – $50 $35 – $40 $25 – $30 $30 – $45
Sources: Payscale, Toptenreviews, Upwork, Payscale Copywriter, Payscale Virtual Assistant, Ecommercefuel, Roberthalf, Webpagefx (US based), Kopywritingkourse, Payscale Graphic Designer, Glassdoor, Payscale Ecommerce Manager, Practicalecommerce, Simplyhired

Virtual Assistants from developing countries typically charge less for their services when compared to those from first world countries.

Local medical insurance, overhead expenses, taxes, and the cost of self-employment greatly affect these rates.

world map salary chart
Image Source: datatopics.worldbank.org
How Your VA Earnings Depend On the Business You Work For
This is not a matter of how much a particular employer is willing to offer as payment but how profitable their business is.

For example, an established eCommerce business might offer a competent Virtual Assistant more than a startup whose funds might be somewhat limited.

Similarly, a VA can earn more if they’reworking for a company that sells well-known software products, compared to another VA, with the same skills, who work for individuals selling their arts and crafts via Etsy or eBay.

Also, a VA possessing the necessary skills to work in a social media marketing agency or as an SEO specialist is more likely to generate higher income than the one employed at companies that deal with data entry or voice-over services. Or as a VA who helps a photographer run and update their website.

Virtual assistant salaries revolve around how much unique value one can provide to an employer in addition to the business’ size and success.

Getting the point?

Apart from those listed above, other factors such as the complexity of tasks, work requirements (full-time vs. part-time), or previous successes (if any) can influence VA compensation.

However, there are also factors that do NOT affect how much a Virtual Assistant can make. For instance, and surprisingly, tertiary education doesn’t seem to matter that much.

How Does a Virtual Assistant’s Salary Compare to Other Common Offline and Online Jobs?
Online or offline workers; have you ever wondered who earns more?

Read on to find out the typical salary rates for common offline professions compared with the earning power of online employees working as Virtual Assistants and other related online workers with different skill sets.

Take a close look at the graph below:

Comparison annual salary chart
Click the image to magnify
The first three roles represent regular offline jobs you can do anywhere regardless of your location:

bank teller,
teacher and
nurse.
The other listed positions are typical work from home online jobs that occur in the fast-growing online work industry.

When it comes to offline jobs, highly skilled nurses obviously earn the most.

However, Virtual Assistants can earn more despite working fewer hours than nurses.

So, how does YOUR salary compare to a typical online worker’s income?

Would you earn more as a Virtual Assistant?

Working as a Virtual Assistant can unquestionably ensure your future financial security, especially if you keep sharpening your skills and gaining new knowledge.

And even with a high income, the other perks of online employment, such as flexibility and working from home, should not be underestimated.

Sources:

Australia: Salaries for Professionals, Payscale Australia, Salary by Occupation, Average Salaries, Minimum Wages Pay Guides, Nursing Wages Salaries & Pay Rates

Kenya: Average Wage Earnings, Average Salary Nairobi, Monthly Salaries for Professionals, Salary Explorer, Best Paying Career Guide

New Zealand: Salaries in NZ, Who Earns What, Trade Me, Salaries and Wages in NZ, Seek NZ

Philippines: Occupational Wages Survey, Popular Job Pay Rates, Job Index, Average Salary Survey, Workers Wages and Salary, Salary Reports

Serbia: Average Salary, Average Wages, Belgrade Salaries

United States of America: US Average Salaries and Expenditures, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, Entry Level Job Salaries, US Wages and Salaries, Nurse Salary by State, Highest Paying States for Registered Nurses, Average Salary in US Survey, Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers, USA Jobs Salaries, USA Jobs

United Kingdom: Nurse salaries in UK, Average Registered Nurse Salary, Best Paid UK Jobs, UK Employee Earnings, Average Salary in London, Income in UK

What Are Common Virtual Assistant Rates and Job Salary Ranges?
Virtual Assistants may be engaged on a part-time or full-time basis and often receive payment by the hour, week, month, or per project, depending upon their employer.

Here’s a brief overview of Virtual Assistant pay rates, per hour and per year, ranging from the lowest to the highest possible salaries. According to the skill set levels required for particular jobs.

Overview of Common Virtual Assistant Rates and Salary Ranges
Types of Virtual Assistant Jobs Virtual Assistant Rates per Hour Specific Job Salary Ranges per Year
General VA $3 to $15 $6,240 to $31,200
VA with Copywriting Skills $3 to $45 $6,240 to $93,600
VA with Customer Service Skills $4 to $25 $8,320 to $52,000
VA with Store Administration Skills $10 to $70 $20,800 to $145,600
VA with Graphic Design Skills $7 to $45 $14,560 to $93,600
Remember when we mentioned how VAs can significantly increase their income when they perfect in-demand skills?

Now you’ll see the exact numbers representing average Virtual Assistant pay rates, per hour and annual job salary ranges, categorized by their experience and competence levels.

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