Comparing an Administrative Assistant vs Virtual Assistant

As a virtual assistant provider, we get this question all the time: “What’s the difference between an administrative assistant and a virtual assistant?” At first, it can be unclear whether the duties an administrative assistant handles are any different from the duties a virtual assistant handles.

Let’s cut through the static and clarify the roles of an administrative assistant vs virtual assistant so you can determine which one you need.

Administrative Assistant vs Virtual Assistant

The differences between an administrative assistant and a virtual assistant are subtle, so pay attention! The main difference is the location where the work takes place.

Administrative assistant duties

An administrative assistant usually works onsite in their employers’ office or place of business. They may work from home on occasion. Administrative assistants are often employed on a full-time basis and receive legally-required benefits from their employers.

Duties an administrative assistant might take care of include:

  • Answering phones
  • Taking notes and memos
  • Maintaining file organization
  • Sending/receiving correspondence
  • Greeting in-house clients or customers
  • Bookkeeping and scheduling tasks
  • Documentation and planning

There is no educational requirement to become an administrative assistant other than a high school diploma, though some specialized assistants may be required to have higher education.

Virtual assistant duties

comparing an administrative assistant vs virtual assistantA virtual assistant is everything an administrative assistant is – except full-time and onsite. Virtual assistants are simply part-time administrative assistants that work remotely, whether that’s from their own home or from a brick-and-mortar office or call center. Some virtual assistants may specialize in different industries – there are legal and real estate virtual assistants, for example, that may cost more per hour than a “general” virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant may be employed full-time by a trusted virtual assistant provider, like Conversational, where you can order virtual assistant services by selecting a monthly plan. They may work independently on a contract basis with individual clients. You will sometimes hear virtual assistants referred to as VAs.

Virtual assistants handle the same duties as an administrative assistant, plus several more:

  • Answering phones
  • Taking notes and memos
  • Sending/receiving correspondence
  • Bookkeeping and scheduling tasks
  • Documentation and planning


  • Blog post management
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Social media management
  • Online review management
  • Bill payment and ordering stock
  • Research and information collection

Hiring an administrative assistant vs virtual assistant

When you’re ready to hire an assistant, deciding between an administrative assistant vs virtual assistant will be difficult. Just consider your own needs as you make your decision.

Will you need help from your assistant full-time (40 hours per week), or just from 10 to 40 hours per month? Can you afford to provide an assistant with a full-time salary and the federally required benefits? Do you work from a business location or your home?

To find out if you’re better suited for an administrative assistant vs virtual assistant, check the sentences below. Which of these statements best describes your situation?

“I need a part-time assistant that only works when I have tasks that need to be done.” If you don’t need full-time help, you’re a prime candidate for hiring a virtual assistant. Click here to view our monthly plans.

“I need a full time assistant that works from my office.” If this is you, you’ll need an administrative assistant who doesn’t work remotely.

“I can afford to pay a low cost for a monthly plan, but not a full-time salary with benefits.” You need a virtual assistant, not one that requires a salary and benefits. Click here to view our monthly plans.

“I can afford to pay an assistant a full-time salary with benefits.” An administrative assistant or virtual assistant can help you in this case. Click here to view our monthly virtual assistant plans.

Administrative assistants and virtual assistants are quite similar, but their differences are important. Administrative assistants work full-time from their employers’ location. Virtual assistants usually work part-time, but may work full-time, from a remote location instead of onsite.

Conversational is the leading virtual receptionist, virtual assistant, and call answering service provider in North America. With a team of skilled, friendly virtual receptionists and virtual assistants paired with our cutting edge technology, we're dedicated to delivering a great experience to your callers at a price you can afford. Put an end to missed calls and take advantage of the number one call answering service for small businesses, legal firms, and medical offices today!

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