You may have heard the term, and also asked the question, “what is a virtual assistant (VA)”
Wikipedia defines a Virtual Assistant (VA) as follows:
A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients–usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices, such as that of a lawyer or realtor. Virtual assistants work from their own office (hence “virtual”), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession. It is estimated that there are about 40,000-50,000 virtual assistants worldwide. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and fax machine. Although the occupation gives a degree of independence, work is on a contractual basis, and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, office manager, etc.
Virtual Assistants are independent contractors. They are classified as self employed. Virtual Assistants are responsible for their own self employment taxes, i.e Federal, State, etc… The contract between an “employer” and a Virtual Assistant (VA) can be terminated by either party.
In the past, the jobs of Virtual Assistants were, and still are, referred to as telecommuting. Often, the terms WAH (work at home) or WFM (work from home) are also applied to these positions.
Being able to work from remote locations has made telecommuting extremely popular. Potential employers have a larger pool of “employees” to draw from, and the Virtual Assistants have a wider range of jobs to apply for.
Many employers are turning to Virtual Assistants in instances where an employee does not need to be physically “on location”.
Although some Virtual Assistants are self employed, many Virtual Assistant Agencies are popping up online. Finding a job through an agency could result in lower wages, however, it may be a great way to gain credibility and experience.
It is reported self employed Virtual Assistants can make from $20 to $70 per hour. Wages will vary depending on the task, as well as the expertise required to complete the job.
Telecommuting spawned the rise of offshore outsourcing. With the capabilities of satellites, high speed internet, software programs, laptops, and wifi, etc., working from remote locations has now become a popular way to reduce the carbon footprint for many individuals and corporations.
According to Wikipedia,
Research conducted by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish in 2008 shows that thirty-three million Americans hold jobs that could be performed at home. If they did, the U.S. could make major cuts in oil dependency. Based on their synthesis of data from EPA, DOT, and 7 other recent sources, they found that telework could reduce Gulf oil imports by 24 to 48%, reduce greenhouse gases by up to 67 million metric tons a year, and save as much as 7.5 billion gallons of gasoline each year. These new telecommuters would collectively avoid 154 billion miles of driving and save $25 billion in fuel purchases (even accounting for mileage for errands formerly accomplished driving to or from work). What’s more, their research shows that by not commuting, these new teleworkers would enjoy the equivalent of an extra 5 workweeks of free time each year.
With energy prices rising, and more individuals and corporations striving to reduce their carbon footprint, a surge in the employment of Virtual Assistants appears inevitable.