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Executive Assistant vs. Project Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Executive assistants and project managers are both important roles in any organization. Both positions require excellent organizational skills, the ability to multitask and the ability to work well under pressure. However, there are some key differences between the two positions. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between executive assistants and project managers, and provide some tips on how to decide which position is right for you.

What is an Executive Assistant?

Executive Assistants provide high-level administrative support for company leaders to ensure they can efficiently accomplish key tasks and company initiatives. They keep the executive’s communications organized so that they can easily access the most important information without having to sort through low-priority items. Executive Assistants screen all visitors and determine what level of support they need while offering polite, professional customer service. They manage the executive’s daily calendar, including scheduling meetings, confirming appointments, writing itineraries and arranging for transportation. Executive Assistants also train other administrative staff on company policies and best practices.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for planning, executing and monitoring projects from start to finish. They work with a team of employees to complete the project within the assigned budget and timeline. Project Managers create detailed project plans that outline the tasks that need to be completed, who is responsible for each task, and when the task needs to be completed. They track the project’s progress and make changes to the plan as needed. Project Managers also communicate with stakeholders to keep them updated on the project’s status and address any concerns.

Executive Assistant vs. Project Manager

Here are the main differences between an executive assistant and a project manager.

Job Duties

A executive assistant is a more specialized professional, with duties that focus on one particular area. For example, an executive assistant for a CEO might handle all of their correspondence, schedule meetings and travel arrangements and maintain their calendar. A project manager, however, has more generalized job responsibilities. They oversee projects from start to finish, but they often delegate tasks to other team members. Both professionals use their expertise in administration to help executives achieve success.

Job Requirements

Executive assistants typically need at least a high school diploma, although some employers prefer candidates with an associate’s degree or higher. Many executive assistants also pursue certification through organizations like the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) to improve their job prospects and earn continuing education credits. To become certified, executive assistants must pass an exam that covers topics like office technology, business writing and scheduling.

Project managers usually need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as business administration, engineering or computer science. They might also benefit from pursuing a master’s degree or certification in project management. These credentials can help project managers stand out to potential employers and demonstrate their commitment to the profession. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credential for entry-level project managers and a Project Management Professional (PMP) credential for those with more experience.

Work Environment

Executive assistants typically work in an office environment, either for a company or for a high-level executive. They may travel with their executives to meetings and events, but they usually remain at the workplace. Project managers often work in an office setting as well, though they may also travel to construction sites or other locations where projects are being completed.

Executive assistants may spend most of their time sitting at a desk typing correspondence or scheduling appointments. Project managers may spend more time on their feet, walking around construction sites or interacting with clients.


Both executive assistants and project managers need to have excellent organizational skills. This is because they often are responsible for managing multiple tasks, deadlines and projects at one time. They also both need to be able to communicate effectively, as they often interact with other employees, clients and customers.

An executive assistant may need more customer service skills than a project manager, as they typically work more closely with customers and clients. They also need to have strong administrative skills, such as scheduling, bookkeeping and preparing reports. A project manager needs to have strong leadership skills to motivate and manage teams of workers. They also need to be able to negotiate contracts and budgets and understand financial concepts to stay within the parameters of a project.


Executive assistants earn an average salary of $61,143 per year, while project managers earn an average salary of $87,628 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which you work and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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