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Executive assistant vs. admin professional vs. chief of staff: who do you need to hire?

Executive assistant vs. admin professional vs. chief of staff: who do you need to hire?

Lindsey is the Marketing Manager for Xenon Partners, where she advises on SaaS growth across several products for Xenon Partners. Lindsey's passion is great documentation and reporting on brilliant ideas, enabling people to actually act on and communicate about these ideas. Lindsey loves working with the TeamPassword blog because it is here where we can really make this happen.

2021-11-21T22:30:00.000Z11 min read


The growing pains of businesses transitioning from a small team to a larger organization are many and varied. As your marketing agency grows, you may see a higher need to organize, manage, and even connect your team. But when tasks like scheduling, networking, and researching can overwhelm your work time unnecessarily, you stand to benefit from hiring an assistant. 

So, how do you choose which type of assistant you need? What's the difference between executive assistant vs. admin professional? Should you be hiring a chief of staff instead? All these questions may arise as you open the possibility of adding an organization expert to your team. 


To make the decision simpler, dive into these different staff members' roles and job descriptions and see who you need to hire.


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What is an executive assistant?

An executive assistant is a professional whose duties center around organizing tasks for business executives. Their responsibilities can be as simple as answering phone calls or as complex as researching, supervising, and reading over documents. Executive assistants generally need only a Bachelor's degree and a few years of experience performing the tasks and familiarizing themselves with software commonly used on the job. 

Since their primary responsibilities are making high-level executives' lives easier, Executive Assistants must be very organized and excel at making quick, game-time decisions. They should be generally good leaders and capable of meeting deadlines since their bosses' success depends on it. They should have excellent analytical skills and even be able to attend networking events to represent their boss.


What is an admin professional?

An administrative assistant or admin professional is often an entry-level individual with a high school diploma or Bachelor's degree. Their skills are mainly around communication and organization. Administrative assistants generally work for an entire organization or junior-level employees, helping schedule, managing email and verbal communication, and more. Often, they have extra training like certifications for using certain software.


What is a Chief of Staff?

A Chief of Staff is the employee facilitating communication between a chief executive and the staff who reports directly to them. Compared to executive and administrative assistants, a Chief of Staff has responsibilities that require more developed leadership skills.

While they perform most of the primary tasks of the other roles, they have a stronger influence on internal company matters. To prepare for their duties, they often work in professional management and have years of experience, which is their Bachelor's or Master's degree. 

When on duty, a Chief of Staff is looking for opportunities to open communication within teams, connecting individuals and groups working on similar initiatives. These professionals will also seek opportunities to present company-wide messaging via presentations. Their daily work is mostly about solving problems and becoming the chief executive's right-hand person.


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Executive assistant vs. admin professional similarities and differences 

Both types of assistants and professionals have personalities that tend toward order and organization. They're great at sorting information and keeping everyone on the same page. Still, the actual on-the-job everyday tasks for each position are widely different.

From the people they have to work for to the tangible impact their duties have, these two professionals are regarded differently. So, what are some of these differences and similarities between the two roles? We break it down below:


Executive Assistant Administrative Professional
Salary approx. $61,550 approx. $38,030
Experience 1-3 years not required

Familiar with technology





Decision making

Interpersonal skills



Little to no training


Problem solving

Meeting ad entertaining clients

Representing the company

Schedule management

Email communication

Education High school diploma High School Diploma


Executive Assistant vs. Chief of Staff

Although an executive assistant and chief of staff are entirely different jobs, they're not entirely unrelated. As we saw in the table above, executive assistants receive a lot of responsibility with which lower-level assistants aren't trusted. They’re seen as capable and intelligent, which is why their higher-ups listen to their input, research, and analyses. This gives them the opportunity to prove themselves as a worthy confidant.

Over time, with the right guidance and performance, they could work up to a Chief of Staff job. Chiefs of Staff also carry all that knowledge and responsibility that Executive Assistants do, but the way they carry out their tasks involves a lot more autonomy. In fact, their job is to only bring things to their Chief Executive if they absolutely require their attention. Otherwise, they deal with any other matter on their own. So how else do these two roles compare?


Executive Assistant Chief of Staff
Salary approx. $61,550 approx. $221,058
Experience 1-3 years 5+ years

Familiar with technology





Decision making

Interpersonal skills

Information processing



Emotional Intelligence

Excellent task prioritization



Problem solving

Meeting ad entertaining clients

Representing the company

Collaborating with executives

Managing Chief Executive's schedule

Recommending and Consulting with their team

Coordinating and leading meetings

Measuring team performance

Education High school diploma Bachelor's Degree (Master's preferred)


Certifications to look for when hiring 

When you’re searching for a professional to take over tasks in your company, it’s not just their profile and experience you want to look at. You’ll also want to review their skillset and certifications. Though for a position like Administrative Assistant a high school degree is sufficient, additional training will really make a potential employee shine, both on paper and while on the job. So, what are some well-known certifications for each type of employee?


Certifications for executive assistant vs. admin professional

An executive assistant, as mentioned above, should hold a few more certifications to ensure that they’re equipped to handle their responsibilities. Here are some of the most important ones: 

  • Certified Secretary Specialist (there are also ones for legal assistants and other specialties)
  • Master Project Manager
  • Microsoft Office Specialist Master Certification
  • Certified professional- Human Resources


On the other hand, for an admin professional, you should look for more general certifications such as:

  • Microsoft Office Certifications (Word and Excel)
  • Administrative Professional Certification             

Something else to note is that you should see that they’re updated (No more than 2 years old).


Certifications for Chief of Staff

Finally, for a Chief of Staff, you’ll want to see a lot more experience and certifications that vouch for their skills and ability to handle things on their own. Of course, certifications don’t tell you everything you need to know about someone’s ability to perform tasks, but it shows you more or less what to expect. Here are some certifications to look for in a potential Chief of Staff:

  • Project Manager Certification
  • Human Resources Professional Certification
  • Managerial Certification

There are many institutions which provide these certifications, but you can decide which you value over others, if any.


Managing your own cybersecurity

Though your new admin or executive assistant may take over other management practices, there's one task that may not need as much attention as you think — managing cybersecurity. If even thinking about addressing the gaps in your company's security is overwhelming, imagine the moment you realize it may have been breached. Not to worry, though. There are plenty of ways to address this issue and get ahead of a possible attack. For one, you can get a password manager.


Use TeamPassword

As your marketing agency starts to grow, you'll find that you'll have to say goodbye to spreadsheets, emails, digital notes, and other bad password sharing practices. Not just because it will become challenging to find what you're looking for, but also because it's an invitation for hackers to take over all your accounts at once. 

Using Teampassword allows you to synchronize credential sharing with your team through one app, one tool, and complete control over your digital assets.


Additional Benefits

  • No more getting locked out!
    Every individual on your team can either download TeamPassword on their mobile or desktop or use it directly on Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. This way, they'll be able to share passwords and collaborate on projects more efficiently while staying safe. 
  • Create and store passwords
    Replace weak passwords with new ones or create them right when you start new accounts. TeamPassword will generate, store, and share passwords as necessary, allowing you to choose the level of privacy of each login credential.
  • Stay in the know
    Always know who's logging in by checking out user logs or enabling email notifications. With TeamPassword, you'll be able to track down every use, as necessary, and verify any activity you find suspicious before it becomes potentially dangerous.


Are you hiring an executive or admin assistant? Add them to your private group and share your credentials with TeamPassword. TeamPassword is an affordable password management solution for teams to share company credentials securely and efficiently. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today!

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