Virtual assistants, also known as VAs, are among the fastest growing home-based professionals. Contrary to popular belief, virtual assisting is a highly skilled job and involves providing administrative, clerical, secretarial and other types of specialized support to businesses, executives, entrepreneurs and anyone else who might need their services.

The job is pretty much the same as that of an onsite office assistant with the only difference being that these professionals provide their services from a remote location, which for most of them is their home. Consequently, it is an ideal career for individuals looking for home-based work such as:

· Parents who want to stay at home with their kids

· Students looking to pay their way through college

· Senior folk who want to start a new post-retirement career

· People with physical disabilities that limit their onsite work options

· Professionals who need a second career to generate an additional income

One of the reasons for the huge popularity of home-based virtual assisting business is its relatively low start-up cost. All one needs in the name of equipment to start off are a laptop or desktop computer, a facsimile machine, a scanner, a printer, a photocopier, a telephone, and a high-speed Internet connection.

Thanks to the information age that we live in, most people already have at least half the things on that list and acquiring the rest is a breeze courtesy online auction sites like if you don’t want to spend too much money on buying new equipment.

Compared to the low start-up cost, the monetary perks could be quite attractive especially for VAs who have completed some kind of postsecondary administrative assistant course or possess a professional certification.

Virtual Assistant – The Job

As mentioned earlier, a virtual assistant can provide a multitude of services to clients ranging from general office management and administrative support to specialized services like technical or creative assistance.

While most VAs tailor their services to suit the needs of their clients, but their day-to-day duties on a broad level may include:

1. Scheduling appointments.

2. Making travel arrangements.

3. Maintaining electronic files.

4. Managing online databases.

5. Setting agendas for meetings.

6. Managing corporate website.

7. Managing email correspondence.

8. Preparing reports and presentations.

9. Conducting online research.

10. Performing billing related procedures.

11. Bookkeeping and basic accounting services.

12. Promoting business using social media tools.

13. Writing and distributing blogs, newsletters, flyers, etc.

14. Doing data entry and proofing & editing documents.

15. Ordering equipment and supplies online.

Many others tasks that may seem routine and mundane, but are an essential part of running a successful business, can be added to this list. Evidently, the possibilities are endless so far as a virtual assistant’s scope of work is concerned.

How to Become a VA

Once you have made yourself familiar with what life is about as a virtual assistant, the next natural question is how does one become a VA?

The good news first – there are no formal training requirements to become a virtual assistant. Yes, you heard that right, no formal training requirements! Now for the bad news – try pulling it off in the real worldand things may not turn out so well for you.

To maximize your marketability as well as earning potential, it’s best to complete a formal administrative assistant course from a career school before you start looking for clients to sell your services.

Since many vocational schools offer administrative assistant training online, , you don’t have to worry about adding yet another chore to your daily “to-do list.” You can work on your lessons at any time that’s convenient to you and at a pace you find comfortable!

Author's Bio: 

Nancy is a 35-year old stay at home mom of two. She worked as a medical assistant for five years before taking a break to be with her children. Her experience as a medical assistant gave her valuable insights in to the medical transcription industry, which she likes to share with others through her writing. Medical transcription training often finds mention in her writings. Being an SAHM, Nancy is a huge exponent of online vocational training programs that provide women like her the power to be their own boss.

Her other interests include gardening and baking. She stays with her husband and two daughters.