Celebrity Assistants Needed to Help the Rich and Famous The Buzz


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 keep looking.

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 assistants.

"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 -- not yourself."

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 personal assistant.

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 in California.

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 York.

"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 than 150.

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 celebrities.

"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.

Links

Hollywood Gatekeepers
Read first-hand job descriptions from celebrities assistants

The Domestic Herald
An online community that offers many resources

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