If you are looking for a job where you can socialize with stars, gossip
with gurus, dine with divas and take aim with athletes, then you had better
Celebrity assistants (commonly known as personal assistants) are usually
waiting in the limo, the green room or the hotel when all eyes are on the
star. Their job is to make sure their employer is prepared. They carry out
menial tasks such as buying socks as well as handle more important responsibilities
like paying the household bills.
"You are beyond the red carpet," says Dionne M. Muhammad, the founder,
CEO and president of an Atlanta-based consulting firm that deals with personal
"The celebrity is not likely to thank you when they accept their award.
Your reward is knowing that you helped someone manage their time effectively
and that you are part of a team. The focus is always on the celebrity --
Mark J. Nelson is an estate manager and personal assistant based in Florida.
He says that if you want to be a personal assistant so that you can live
in a mansion, then you are barking up the wrong tree.
"It can be a posh lifestyle, but that's your employer's life -- not yours.
You're the employee," Nelson says. "Families may provide some nice things
for you, but mostly it's long hours of hard work."
Hard work or not, the industry has been growing at 15 percent each year,
according to research done at Muhammad's firm.
"People are realizing that they have a need for someone to help them manage
their leisure time," Muhammad says. "There has always been a need for domestic
staff. You just hear more about it now."
Socialites, members of the media, lawyers, surgeons, politicians and executives
may not be household names, but they can often afford the convenience of a
And personal assistants do come with quite a price tag. Although there
is no set wage scale for this profession, it is not unheard of for a seasoned
personal assistant to make a handsome six-figure salary. Beginners could
expect to make $25,000 to $30,000.
The market is very regional. On average, personal assistants in the U.S.
make more than those in Canada, and those in New York make more than those
Wages also depend on the employer, your responsibilities, your skill set
and level of experience. For example, an experienced personal assistant with
a college degree working around the clock for a Fortune 500 executive in New
York would make more than a beginner working 9-to-5 during weekdays for a
lawyer in Montreal.
The demand for personal assistants is growing because of the way the family
unit has changed over the last 30 years, says Charles MacPherson. He is the
president of a residential management firm with offices in Toronto and New
"In today's world, we have two-income families," MacPherson says. "They
are busier and at home less, but the house still needs to be run. This is
where the personal assistant position comes into demand. It is a successful
way for busy families to run their households."
This position is here to stay, MacPherson says.
"It is easy for people to justify the expense when you are valuable to
their family," he says. "There is a lot of value associated with someone
who does this job well."
The number of people working as personal assistants is difficult to determine.
New York Celebrity Assistants, a professional organization, boasts 130 members.
The Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants in Los Angeles has more
Of course, not all personal assistants are members of associations. Some
estimate that there are thousands of personal assistants working in Hollywood
alone, including part time and freelance workers.
"The number is probably in the hundreds, rather than dozens or thousands,"
says Theresa Broderick, a household manager and personal assistant currently
employed by the president of a pharmaceutical company. In her 15 years of
private service, she has worked for a world-renowned surgeon, lobbyists and
"It isn't an easy field to break into because most employers require a
proven track record," says Broderick. "They want to see that you have done
this and what you can do for them. If one is willing to start at the bottom,
like most careers, then you can go really far in the end."
In order to gain experience, you can work as a secretary or administrative
assistant in the field you are interested in, whether it is entertainment,
sports or business.
Experience in the hospitality industry in positions such as a concierge,
event planner, tour or travel guide are excellent additions to a personal
assistant's resume. Child-care experience is a bonus.
"I started as a nanny," Broderick says. "The nanny positions often crossed
over to personal assistants."
Networking is important because it's not always what you know, but whom
you know. Many personal assistants got their first break because of contacts
they had made.
There is no long-term educational program for personal assistants yet.
Some agencies offer workshops. You can acquire necessary skills by taking
courses in related topics such as computers, household management, property
management, event planning, child care, cooking, accounting and public relations.
There are excellent opportunities in this profession for someone with a
large skill set and a wide variety of life experience. This comes with age,
so as a young person just finishing school, you would not see the big bucks
and the high-rolling lifestyle.
For someone interested in administrative work, this career would be a good
one to keep in mind for down the road when you are ready for a career change
and a more varied, out-of-the-office lifestyle.
If you want to work for J-Lo, Brad Pitt or Tiger Woods when you have just
finished school, you had better cook up a new plan.
Read first-hand job descriptions from celebrities assistants
The Domestic Herald
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International Nanny Association
Educational resources, industry updates and other helpful information
10 Steps to a Fab Job as a Celebrity Personal Assistant
Read their 10 steps to becoming a celebrity assistant
New York Celebrity Assistants
A professional association of current and former celebrity assistants