21422 Whatsthe Difference Betweenan Administrative Professionaland Senior Administrative Professional
What's the Difference Between an Administrative Professional and Senior Administrative Professional?

What sort of administrative professional do you need (or want to be)?

One of the FAQs in the administrative professional market is, what’s the difference between an administrative professional and a senior executive assistant? Are they just titles, or do essential responsibilities differ, as well?

Before delving into the differences, it’s important to note that there isn’t one “right” distinction between the two titles. Different organizations have their own definitions and expectations based on skillset, level of responsibility, or tenure in the role. In many ways, the roles remain similar.

Here are some common areas where the roles differ:


A senior executive assistant will usually have several years of experience (at least 5-10) working as an executive assistant, or in a general administrative role that developed their skills. In some organizations, the senior executive assistant must have held one of those roles for a set period, while others may take a broader view of experience and qualifications.

For example, someone who has previously held a project manager role but opted for a career change to executive assistant may have a head start for a senior role.

Longevity within the same company is often valued because the executive assistant knows it inside out and has efficient processes and procedures down pat. EAs with longevity and capability are often offered the senior role, including higher pay and more responsibility.

Industry experience might also come into play, even if the candidate for the senior role hasn’t worked for the same company for a period of time. For example, there is a lot to learn about compliance and procedures in governmental organizations. Someone may have the appropriate experience working in government roles, even if it wasn’t for the same department or level of government.

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Who They Serve

Does a senior executive assistant work for the same person as the administrative professional? Sometimes. This division is often particularly prevalent in larger organizations.

For example, senior executive assistants will often serve the most senior roles, including CEO, CFO, CIO, and the board. Administrative professionals may also work for senior managers in large organizations, but not those in the most advanced roles. For example, an administrative professional might work for the head of marketing or HR, while senior EAs work for the C-Suite.

It’s not a hard and fast rule - sometimes organizations want the senior EA role simply because they need the responsibilities that go with the position to be handled. Senior EA is usually a “top brass” role and often includes supervisory duties over other administrative positions.


What qualifies someone to be a senior executive assistant compared to an administrative professional? This criterion is, again, something that varies between organizations. Each organization’s priorities, goals, and skills needed to help them hit their goals will determine the qualification criteria for a company.

While there are no formal education requirements to be an administrative professional, more than 60% of senior executive assistants hold a bachelor’s degree. In some organizations, those who hold certifications in the company’s specialty will receive the senior role. For example, project management certificates, specific systems qualifications, leadership certifications, or administrative qualifications might push an EA to the senior position.

Leadership skills and experience are often big determiners for senior executive assistant roles. As the title implies, the position generally requires more accountability, and therefore, the right person for the role has demonstrated an ability to lead. Senior EAs operate at a level where they mingle with board members and key stakeholders, so they need to be comfortable “speaking their language.”


You can expect that a senior executive assistant will have a higher level of responsibility than an administrative professional, particularly in organizations where both roles exist. Sometimes, if you compare a senior EA in one organization with an AP in another, you won’t see much difference. APs in smaller organizations often tend to be doing a bit of everything, while in larger organizations with clearly defined senior EA and AP roles, the responsibilities are distinct.

Here are some areas where a senior EA may have higher levels of responsibility:

  • Taking a supervisory role over other administrative positions. Many senior EAs have direct reports and are involved with hiring and work allocation decisions. A considerable part of their role may be training on internal processes so that other administrative staff can keep operations running smoothly.
  • Support for C-suite executives or board members. Senior EAs often have a seat at board meetings and play an influential role.
  • More direct contact and responsibility with clients. Senior EAs often spend more time liaising between clients and executives.
  • Event planning. EAs at all levels are often involved with event planning, but the senior EA can expect to be more pivotal in the organization behind an event. They usually take on the big ones, such as galas or conferences.
  • Level of discretion over decision-making. Senior EAs are often in a position where they have more discretion to make more significant decisions. For example, they may have a budget that they can use for the tasks related to their role. They also may sign off on key decisions that a regular EA needs to take to a manager.
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You can expect a senior executive assistant to get paid more for their higher skills, experience, and responsibilities. Salaries vary considerably by area in the United States, but it’s important to remember that both AP and senior EA roles consist of highly skilled people with experience. They are not on the low end of salaries.

Current average salary ranges across the United States are:

  • Senior executive assistant: $54,000 - $150,000
  • Administrative professional: $31,000 - $110,000

Final Thoughts

We’ve talked about the differences between an administrative professional and a senior executive assistant, but there are typically many similarities in what the roles entail. For example:

  • Gatekeeping for the executive they serve
  • Organization of calendars and travel
  • Scheduling of people and resources
  • Keeping records and producing reports
  • Setting up processes and procedures for tasks

Overall, senior executive assistants typically have more responsibilities and a higher level of skill and experience. They are paid more as compensation for their years of experience.

Do you need help finding the right sort of administrative professional for you? Worxbee specializes in recruiting top virtual administrative professionals and pairing them with the right match. Chat with us here to find out how we can help you.