YourDependableVA's Blog

Virtual Assistant vs. Secretary – Which Works Best For You

Posted on: July 31, 2009

Deciding whether to choose a virtual assistant or a secretary can be somewhat of a difficult decision. This could be attributed to the fact that most people do not know what a virtual assistant is.  A virtual assistant is an independent contractor that performs across-the-board administrative tasks as well as other tasks. Almost any business can benefit from a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants (VAs) work form their remote office providing the client with various business support needs ranging from day-to-day administrative tasks to a web design. VAs mainly communicate via phone, fax, and email with their clients. Most business owners say that there is more versatility with what a virtual office assistant can do for you vs. a secretary.

The cost of providing health insurance increases annually while payroll taxes, holiday pay, vacation pay, FICA, equipment, and training costs can tighten an already limited financial budget and time constraint. These taxes, benefits and other additional costs can make the wage of your employee more than 2 times higher than the initial wage.

To make things easier for you, I have put together a table for you to compare a virtual assistant vs. secretary.



Works from a remote office

Works in business owner’s office


Provides administrative and other various business support tasks

Provides administrative tasks


Works with clients regarding the long term needs for their business

Focuses on tasks-based projects


Works with a small group of select clients

Works with any client


Charges per hour or monthly retainer

Fees are based upon the type of project


Collaborates with client to understand their business

No need to understand the business in order to complete a task


Client does not pay payroll tax, sick pay, or holiday pay

Client pays payroll tax, sick pay, and holiday pay


Client only pays for time spent on project(s)

Client pays employee for time spent in the office


Business support on an “as-needed” basis

Client pays employee for time spent in the office for the duration of the contract


If you are a business owner that is comfortable working with someone virtually and equally efficient, then perhaps a virtual assistant will work best for you and your business.

About the Author: Priscilla Walker is the president and CEO of Your Dependable VA, Inc. (YDVA, Inc.), a business support & cost effective solutions company. We provide high premium business support and cost effective solutions for small businesses. We focus on administrative assistance, social media marketing, and business development. For more information, please contact us at

“Have a More Productive Day with Your Dependable VA!”™


2 Responses to "Virtual Assistant vs. Secretary – Which Works Best For You"

I am a partner in a start up CPA firm. We just opened the firm and are trying to operate very leanly. We have a part-time admin/bookkeeper that we are very happy with but truly her talents lie in bookkeeping and she prefers that work also. From time to time, I need someone who is an expert at Word and Excel that can edit, format or rollfoward documents. I don’t need this person very often but when I do, it is crucial. Would a virtual PA fill this need and if so, how?

Hi Taylor Dean,

Thanks for submitting your question. Virtual assistants (VAs) provide administrative tasks as well as other office tasks. The benefits of working with a VA is flexibility and cost-effectiveness. The business owner has the option of using the VA’s services on an ‘as needed’ basis or monthly retainer. For more information, please click on the ‘About the Author’ page. I wish you well in your business.

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