Calculate How Much a Virtual Assistant Will Cost You and Their Hourly Rates
How much does a virtual assistant cost? What is a virtual assistant's hourly rate? Well, once you have a clear idea of what a virtual assistant does, what they might be able to do for you, and why you should hire one, it comes down to the brass tacks. You’re wondering how much you may have to pay.
- What is a reasonable hourly rate for a virtual assistant with the skills and experience you need?
- What is the number of hours you’re going to require to get everything done?
- And what does that mean for the future of your VA expenses?
This Article is Part of Our Resource Series: Time, Productivity & Virtual Assistants
- Time Management Skills
- What Should I Delegate
- Do I Need a Virtual Assistant
- Virtual Assistant Cost Calculator (you are here)
- Getting Started with Your Virtual Assistant
In this resource, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the cost of hiring a VA. We’ll look at some key statistics, examine the life of a VA from their perspective, and try to figure out how you can create a line item in your budget like “virtual assistant cost” without feeling like you’re overpaying. Let’s get started.
First Things First: Keep This in Mind
When you enter “virtual assistant cost” into Google in an effort to find out a typical—or even an average—cost, you might be surprised. The simple truth is that VA costs can vary wildly. If you were to outsource to virtual assistants in countries with very low labor costs, you shouldn’t be surprised to find rates below most minimum wage in the United States. On the higher end, a highly knowledgeable and experienced virtual assistant can run into the three figures per hour.
According to some data, outsourcing virtual assistant work can sometimes cost up to $5,600 per month for an average virtual assistant salary. Outsourcing to VAs in countries with low costs of labor can bring that price down to less than $1,000 per month.
That’s a wide range, to say the least. The question is: where do you fall on that spectrum? And what can you reasonably expect an experienced, skilled VA to demand when they’re doing the kind of work you need?
Let’s take the case of a virtual assistant who needs to earn a full-time living by offering their hourly work to clients. How does that calculation look?
- Hourly Pricing: When it comes to hourly pricing, a virtual assistant typically needs to calculate the gross expenses they need to earn to compensate for expenses like taxes, insurance, and more. They can then calculate how many hours they anticipate working throughout an average month to come up with an hourly rate. For example, a part-time VA working 20 hours a week who wants to earn an additional $2,000 gross per month would divide by 80 hours (for four weeks) and come up with a rate of $25 per month. Statistics suggest that over 85% of virtual assistants work on an hourly pricing basis, which helps you keep these calculations simple.
- Retainer Pricing: Retainer pricing is a way for freelancers, remote workers, and VAs to construct a consistent schedule for themselves. With a retainer agreement, a client might make a commitment—such as 40 hours per month—that is prepaid. The calculation on the virtual assistant’s part would work the same, but in this case, it resembles a flat fee.
- One Time Project Pricing: For one time projects, flat fees are often the norm. But it’s certainly possible to bring on additional help from a VA for one project with no commitment down the line. This is another major advantage of going to a virtual assistant business: you don’t have to worry about making a commitment to the extra help for the long term. You can simply bring in help for your project and proceed.
Virtual Assistant Cost Calculator
We've build a small virtual assistant cost calculator which can help you estimate how much you may end up paying based on complexity of tasks, location of your VA, and more. Give it a try! Please note - there's important considerations as to why the costs are the way they are listed below in the article.
The Cost of a New Employee
Let’s say you were to hire a personal assistant in person rather than a virtual assistant. You might take their average hourly rate and extend it into a salary. You would then have a simple calculation: cost per week times 50 weeks equals their yearly pay.
But is that really how it works?
You’d be surprised. For a new employee, you’ll have to factor in other costs as well, including:
- Health insurance
- Personal benefits
- Onboarding supplies
- A computer / office space
When you factor in these additional costs, you might be caught off-guard at just how expensive one employee in your office can be.
The good news about hiring an assistant virtually? The virtual assistant cost calculation can be far more intuitive. Virtual assistants will charge you a flat hourly rate in many cases. And they’ll be responsible for their own benefits, their own supplies, their own Internet access, and more. They’re happy to handle these costs as part of their dedication to working remotely.
There’s a reason that a virtual assistant tends to save you as much as 78% in operating costs per year. And don’t forget that a full-time hire is still going to have limited productivity; some statistics suggest that it’s as little as 2 hours and 53 minutes per day. If you were to hire a virtual assistant for two hours per day—hours you can be certain were fully productive—you’ll reduce your overall operating costs while getting more productivity for your money.
The challenge in calculating virtual assistant cost begins with understanding the kinds of skills you need to pay for—and what VAs in your particular field tend to charge.
Getting a Handle on the Average Virtual Assistant Cost
According to the VA Handbook, the average virtual assistant in the U.S. can cost up to $60 per hour, with a wide range of costs below that figure.
Extrapolate that figure to a full-time income and you’ll see a salary that’s consistent with an executive assistant, especially when you add the expenses listed in the previous section. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to pay a virtual assistant a full-time income to accomplish your entire to-do list; you can save 50% immediately simply by hiring them for twenty hours a week instead of forty. And you may find that even that twenty hours per week is enough.
But even with that figure in mind, it doesn’t hurt to understand the factors that can influence price:
- Specific skills. The more specific the skillset you require, the more you might expect to pay. Supply and demand mean that if you’re looking to hire a VA who can handle social media management and there aren’t many available, you can expect your costs to go up. But that doesn’t mean you have to worry about availability; you simply have to set realistic expectations for the cost of a VA.
- General skills. Let’s say you need a virtual assistant who can write fluent English to handle your sales communications. In that case, outsourcing to someone who has demonstrated English skills would be essential, even if there’s not any one particular task that you’re thinking of. With these skills, you’ll often find that you can expect to pay higher prices—but it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, either.
Why You Should Hire Based on Task, Not Necessarily Cost
Let’s take the average pay scale—across the entire industry—and look at the mean hourly pay for virtual assistants. According to PayScale.com, it’s $15.80. If that seems low, keep in mind that this includes the cost for virtual assistants with fewer skills and less experience.
Is this a good way to estimate how much your virtual assistant will cost? Simply take the mean hourly rate and multiply it by the number of hours you need every month, right? If you needed 10 hours a week at 40 hours a month, that would come to just $632 per month, or $7,584 per year.
But there’s a wrinkle: this doesn’t necessarily reflect what you can expect to see.
You might have specific needs that aren’t addressed by what the “median” VA can do for you. If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t look to the mean salary as a guide for what you can expect to pay. Instead, you should think about the specialized skills you need and gauge the costs of virtual assistants in that area. Here are a few examples of specific skillsets:
- Social media management. Virtual assistant services that extend to social media management can include scheduling your Tweets or managing your Pinterest boards. These require specific skillsets within each social media platform, so don’t be surprised if you find that experienced VAs in this area cost above the mean.
- Marketing tasks. Whether you’re actively delegating your email marketing or other marketing administrative tasks such as customer relationship management, you’re going to need someone with effective language skills. That tends to mean a higher hourly rate.
- Copywriting. Need a virtual assistant to tackle your blog or create landing pages? Need them to populate a new website with fresh, effective copy? Those specialized skills don’t just pop up in any virtual assistant. Even if you’re marketing in the United States using a United States virtual assistant, experience with copywriting is about more than just being able to put words down on the page.
- Graphic design. There are freelancers and independent contractors whose sole focus is graphic design; it’s no wonder that there are virtual assistants who bring a similar set of specialized skills.
- Marketing with an eye on lead generation. Need someone to bring onboard more potential clients? You might consider hiring a virtual assistant with experience in lead generation. Not only can they introduce you to new tools for expanding your outreach efforts, but they can effectively manage your sales funnel and send the leads directly to you.
- SEO. It’s not unusual for businesses to hire entire SEO firms to change the way they interact with modern search engines. That’s why a VA with the specialized skills for SEO—keyword research, optimization skills, and more—can offer so much value to a growing business.
Setting Realistic Expectations for the Cost of Your VA
When you think about the potential costs of your virtual assistant, try not to compare your unique needs to the “mean” or “average” salary of a VA. Instead, compare the virtual assistant to what you would otherwise pay a full-time employee with similar skills. When you view it in that context, you can see the value of hiring a virtual assistant over a full-time employee makes sense.
It makes even more sense when you replace what would have been a full-time employee with a virtual assistant who can perform similar duties.
Let’s consider the earlier statistic that hiring a VA over a full time employee can reduce operating costs by almost 80%. What if you have a specific need around the office, such as someone who can take incoming phone calls for your business?
Because taking phone calls doesn’t require the physical presence of your assistant, you can forward those calls to a VA’s cell phone. They can then take down any messages, keeping you free from distraction. Meanwhile, to the outside world, there’s no hint that any of this is virtual. It all looks the same from the perspective of someone doing the dialing.
Another task might be data entry. Getting data entry out of your life can be well worth just about any hourly cost—but you might be surprised to find that experienced data entry specialists can not only handle the task, but they might improve it. They can recommend software and tools that will make your data entry far more smooth and efficient, reducing your overall requirements for data entry and giving you more ROI.
Throughout all of this, it’s important to set realistic expectations for what a VA will do. While they’ll be highly efficient with unique skills and can easily outsource tasks like taking phone calls, you shouldn’t expect a miracle worker. After all, you’re paying them for specific tasks, they aren’t an employee of your business, they don’t have equity, etc. Instead, look to participate with your VA. Engage them by providing feedback and creating a step-by-step onboarding process so they can take on your tasks with ease. This will reduce the money you spend bringing a VA up to speed.
Other Factors When Considering the Cost of a Virtual Assistant
Below, you’ll see that it’s possible to make an easy calculation with Delegated’s services as you estimate how much money you can spend on VAs. But let’s look at a few other factors you should consider when justifying the expense:
- Independent contractors are often more efficient. According to data from Canada Life Group, the “productivity ranking of home-based workers” is 7.7, compared to standard office workers’ rating of 6.5. That means you’re getting more bang for your buck no matter what you pay. It’s true that every individual is different, but on the whole, if you tend to rely on virtual assistance before hiring someone full-time, you can expect more productivity for a fraction of the price. That’s win-win.
- Virtual assistants are more highly skilled than you might have considered. According to BestOfBudgets.com, the majority of VAs have a college education. This factors into the overall cost of your VA. Not only are they educated, but they’re skilled. They’re ready to take on some of today’s most common tasks from project management to email marketing.
- VAs are more popular than ever. In 2018, the global outsourcing market was worth an estimated $85 billion. That includes the ever-burgeoning field of VAs who take on these outsourced tasks, as well as the global trend of outsourcing to remote workers. Why is it becoming more popular? Because with 21st century technology available at your fingertips, it’s possible to leverage the experience of people who work from home.
Virtual assistance is no longer just for business owners. It’s for C-level executives, freelancers, and even individuals who are exploring this area for the first time. All it requires is a willingness to understand the costs, the advantages of hiring someone remotely, and how a VA’s cost can compare favorably to a full-time or, in some cases, even a part-time employee.
Creating Your Own Virtual Assistant Cost Calculation and Formula
With everything you’ve learned so far, it’s easy to see how you might want to pay a virtual assistant as much as $35 to $50 an hour. You know you’re getting productive work, you know that your commitments are flexible, and you don’t have to worry about paying additional operation expenses just to bring your virtual assistant up to speed.
But let’s say you still want a more direct way to estimate the prices you can expect to pay. One way to do that is to work with a virtual assistant business that specializes in teaming you up with the ideal assistant for your tasks.
- The Executive 24 plan with Delegated takes all of the guesswork out of hiring a virtual assistant. The calculation is simple: at a cost of $1,080 per month and 24 hours per month, the rate is $45 per hour. It includes up to two users, with additional hours at $50 per hour, sold in five-hour increments.
This is a simple, straightforward system for hiring virtual assistants that requires minimal calculation. And with a customer success representative working with you to find the right person for the job, you won’t have to worry about getting a VA with the specialized skills you need.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of why you might hire a virtual assistant, how to delegate your tasks, and what the cost will be, it’s time to get to the final step: how to use a VA. Next, we’ll talk about how to lean into the process, bring your VA on board, and proceed with the strategies that will free up your time and expand your business.