Difference In Costs For VAs With Different Skill Sets? - Frequently Asked Questions

Which Virtual Assistant Skills Sets Cost the Most and or Least and What Can We Do to Reduce the Costs Overall?

The depth of the skill, rather than the skill itself, is usually what demands a higher salary.

When you are hiring people, you cannot necessarily correlate a specific skill with an explicit cost.

For example, a doctor who treats children, “pediatrician,” does not necessarily earn a higher salary than a childbirth specialist, “obstetrician.”  There are many other factors that dictate salary, and you certainly do not hire a doctor and associate a cost incrementally to each skill. Instead, you really need to decide which skill you want to hire for.

In addition, all salaries are negotiated. Therefore we cannot explicitly say what a cost will be exactly. We can only advise, in general, for most skill sets that we typically recruit for, and based on our experience they will likely come out within a certain range. See the latest VA staffing salary ranges here.

There are exceptions, although it tends to be more the depth of the skill rather than the skill itself that demands a higher salary.

Experienced web developers will cost more than office administrators.

For example, we recently hired a Shopify developer. In this case though, what was needed was not a typical, base level, Shopify developer, i.e., one who could make changes within the CMS, but rather one that could create custom code and even potentially build a custom plugin. That person costs almost 50% more than a typical Shopify developer.

The bigger issue is that hiring someone with certain types of skills varies in difficulty due to their scarcity.

Poorly Thought Out Job Requirements

Here is a problematic requirement we recently received:

  1. Invoice 1-2 per week
  2. Email management
  3. Managing calendar and scheduling appointments with clients
  4. Sending mail virtually (Not sure what service to use on this)
  5. Finding niche leads on Google
  6. Texting customers, potential customers, and reminders to the owner
  7. Sending direct mail proofs by email, with reminders for follow-up.
  8. Adding business card info into CRM
  9. Organize and plan networking events
  10. Transcribing, rough editing, or writing minutes of meeting
  11. Research potential leads and sends overviews of their performance to them
  12. Uploading videos to YouTube, transcribing, and optimizing video titles and descriptions
  13. Uploading content to the website
  14. Editing screen capture videos and sending them to clients
  15. Articulating video content

On the face of it, most of the above are straightforward, however:

#1 through #11, with one possible exception, are fairly straightforward. Someone with good English, basic office skills, and some customer service experience, should be able to do them. #4, however, could potentially be a problem.

About #4

It is usually a bad idea to try to hire a VA to do something you do not know how to do. See “Hire an American, Not A Filipino Virtual Assistant When…” Expect to provide training or at least know precisely how you plan to do any form of email marketing. Know what platform you plan to use, what you want to say, and how frequently you want to say it. Often it is possible to recruit for experience with different email automation platforms.

#12 Through #15 Require Very Specific Skills and Equipment

This is more about understanding people and their biases, for example:

  • Someone who is a good writer wants to write. They are unlikely to be very good at, or happy doing office administrative work.
  • Someone who has an excellent track record as a personal assistant, office administrator, and or customer service is unlikely to be familiar with how to do video editing or even have a computer or software capable of coping with video applications.

This is not to confuse hiring a “skilled video editor” compared to a “basic video editor.” It is possible to hire a skilled video editor, but that is an entirely different skillset and personality type. They will be into animations and much more advanced movie skills like graphics creation.

We have successfully hired staff who can do basic video editing (removing ums and ahs) and can also write. Having said that, their writing skills were not as advanced as when we explicitly looked for a “writer.” It is possible to hire a really good writer, but it is much harder and takes longer. They do not, however, necessarily cost significantly more.

There is no reason why you could not train an office admin person to do video editing. However, as well as training them you might also discover that you need to fund the upgrading of their computer along with supplying the appropriate software.

All Of This Is Not Fixed In Concrete

Anything is possible. All we are doing is providing you with probable outcomes based on our hiring experience.

Finding a good writer is a lot harder than finding an experienced office administrator. Also, part of the problem is OBJECTIVELY defining what a “good writer” actually is. One person’s definition of a “good writer” is likely to be significantly different than another. Not to mention whether we are talking about technical writing, blogging, copywriting, or creative writing – all of which are different skill sets.

I doubt most people would expect to hire an American who is good at all forms of writing, video editing, office administration, and customer service!

Our Advice is to Decide What the Core Skill Set and Job Requirements You Need Are

  • If we add to that, “candidates who also have experience writing and video editing will have an advantage” or similar, that will do no harm
    • You might be lucky… I would not bank on it though.


If either of these two things is too much, don’t do it.

Bigger Concerns

We are much more concerned that a client is serious about hiring a person long-term and is likely to treat them well. One of the most significant challenges Filipinos face is American companies vacillating and treating Filipino staff as commodities to be discarded at a moment’s notice just because the hiring company has not thought through what they really want.

Getting The Lowest Possible Cost

If, as a strategy, a company considers using its own time as less important than saving a couple of hundred bucks, we would suggest that company go and recruit their staff from the Philippines themselves, set up an inter-country payroll process, and pay them directly. I would also advise them to do their own plumbing and service their own cars…

Our Goal

We do our best to make sure that a prospective client coming to us, looking to hire their first VA, is informed and prepared. Our goal is to do everything we can to make sure both the client and the VA, have as good an experience as we have when we hire VA’s for our own businesses.