A VA forum was recently discussing whether or not it was necessary to get certification to operate a VA business. Trouble was the discussion was really about training. I posted the following to help distinguish the difference.
I feel it’s important to explain there is a difference between training and certification.
Certification is usually to verify you already have the skills and ability for whatever that certification is. So VACertification.com (MVA & PVA) and ASO (Accredited Secretary Online) for example, work on what you already can do and can demonstrate.
Training is to teach you what you don’t know. There are many VA trainers and coaches out there. With coaching you can either join a coaching program or just pay by the hour for the coaching you need. The training courses are usually for a set period – I run one that lasts for 10 weeks.
These coaching and training programs are designed to teach you about the Virtual Assistant industry and how to run your VA practice. They don’t teach you how to type, do transcription or use the software – this you should already know, or go take the relevant courses.
There will be clients who don’t care what training you have or haven’t done and they won’t query it – they will take it for granted that you already know how to do what you say you can do. And if it turns out you can’t clients will pick this up quickly and move on to someone else or assume we’re all the same and bad-mouth the industry. There are clients who are impressed by credentials and will ask for them, or go away and look for someone who has them. I know because I have had clients ask.
I do believe that certification for the industry helps raise the professionalism of the industry and separates us from those who say they are VAs but are in fact just hobbyists at home with a computer wanting to earn a few extra dollars. That’s not to say you have to get certification but I feel it’s important that the public knows the VA industry is just as professional as those other industries that do have certification and training programs.
For those of you who have many years of experience in the corporate world you will have excellent computer skills (I would hope) but you may find the transition from corporate (physical real world) to virtual a stretch, and the various forums can help fill the gap. If you need to fill it quicker or still feel there are things missing from your knowledge, then seeking out an experienced VA who provides training, coaching or mentoring might be the way to go. Make sure that VA has been around for awhile and actually walks their talk.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.