I recently had a lady write to me to ask about how I got started. She’d read that I started out doing word processing and data entry and did I go do a course or did I already know how to do those things? She was wondering what training she might need to do and where to do it. My answer to her was this:
I never did a course to get started. When I began I was a homebased secretary and it was before the Virtual Assistant industry had begun. I already had 23 years corporate secretary experience behind me which meant I already knew how to do data entry and word processing. I would strongly recommend that you only offer services for which you have had good training otherwise you’ll find yourself in the company of others who can achieve so much more. For example, if you cannot type, when learning you’ll find you can only do 20-30 wpm whereas trained typists will do in excess of 80wpm. There is no way you’ll be able to do transcription work or copy typing in a reasonable time period and make good money. Same with data entry.
I do provide coaching and training for new and existing VAs but have the following on my website at www.vatrainer.com:
Criteria: It is expected that all participants have well developed administrative or secretarial skills, are computer and internet literate and able to work without supervision.
What the program does not deliver: Software training – participants should already know how to use the software they wish to provide VA services with. However, the course will give information on the use of programs/services that are not common to corporate administrative work, such as use of FTP programs and other web based programs.
If you do not know how to type (properly) or have very little software knowledge, then this course is not (yet) for you. You need first to go and do a course with a college or other institution to learn how to use your computer and its software properly. If you also have a challenge with written English, this course is not for you – you need to advance your ability with English before coming back to do this course. This course does not teach you software skills – it is assumed you already have them. Minimum requirements are:
- Good knowledge of the computer keyboard and the ability to use it.
- Good operating knowledge of a word processing package, either MS Word, WordPerfect or similar.
- Basic knowledge of other programs with the ability to learn quickly.
- Knowledge of how to use an email program.
- Understanding of basic web and computer technology, i.e. menu, taskbar, icons, toolbar, etc.
Not to know the above will disadvantage you in developing your skills as a Virtual Assistant.
If you don’t have these type of skills I would like to suggest you get some temping work or part-time work, or perhaps another job, where you can build up your skills with the goal of eventually becoming a VA. However, if you have experience in other services such as bookkeeping, editing and proofreading, website management, etc then you could focus your VA business on those particular skills.
I hope I have been able to suitably answer your question and help you on your way with your future plans.
It’s important that those considering becoming VAs look at this vocation with their eyes open. It is not a case of simply having a computer and internet connection – it goes much further than that. And if you’re not suitably skilled and prepared you do stand to be bitterly disappointed and disillusioned when it doesn’t work out. And unfortunately the clients you will have tried to service during that time will feel the same way.