You want to become a virtual assistant and you're wondering: 1. Do I need to take virtual assistant college courses? and 2. Do I need to be certified? These are common questions I hear from aspiring VAs so I wanted to share my thoughts.
Simply put: No and No. There, isn't that great news? :)
No, you don't need to take a VA college course to get started working as a virtual assistant. There are community colleges like this one which offer certificates in Virtual Assistance. On the one hand, I'm glad they exist because they do get in front of college students; it's another way for the world at large to learn about and perhaps take part in this amazing profession.
On the other hand, when I look at this college's example, it seems to me it's a curriculum cobbled together from other subjects like Accounting, Business, and Computer Science. Instead, all of the classes should be from the College of Online Entrepreneurship (which doesn't exist yet at most schools, unfortunately). Who would be teaching you to be a VA - a working, experienced virtual assistant? Nope, it's a college professor ... ahem, I mean, Educator ... who's an expert in their one subject but not necessarily how it applies to working online as a VA today.
You don't need Quickbooks and Advanced Word to be a virtual assistant and check out this description for the Web Page Design course they'd have you completing:
CO 276 Web Page Design (3 Cr. Hr.)
This course will enable the student to use HTML programming
language and WYSIWYG software to create basic web sites
that will meet various business needs. The student will explore
style sheets, database-driven sites, forms, tags, tables and
frames, basic design principles, color and typography, scripting,
hosting, and web mastering concepts.
Ain't nobody got time for that! An aspiring virtual assistant does NOT need to learn HTML programming, tables and frames, etc. Sure, if you end up specializing at a Techie VA or a Website VA, or you end up moving on to be a web designer or programmer, then go to Colby College and take just the web design course but you don't need it to get started as a VA.
So bottom line, it's not necessary to delay starting your virtual assistant dream by taking 30 college units (how long would THAT take, assuming you're already busy and would attend part-time?). Your potential VA clients aren't going to ask if you've taken college courses, this isn't the best way to learn the VA biz, and you've got way better things to do with your time and money - like getting started MAKING money, right?
There are exceptions to every rule, right? Here are some reasons you might choose to take a virtual assistant college course load.
1. You've always loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding and are determined to go to night school like Nia Vardalos.
Sorry, that's all I got.
You may have other reasons you want to do this. Only YOU know what's right for you. I just don't want you to have "I don't have time to get a college certificate" as an excuse for not moving toward your VA dream, okay?
In the opinion of most experienced VAs you'll ask, you DON'T need to be certified to work as a VA. In fact, even if you want to get certified, you might have a struggle finding someone to certify you. There isn't one official governing body of the VA profession. There are associations and groups but, hey, they aren't the boss of us! There are rando colleges like I mentioned above or online courses that may sell you a "certificate." But I'm telling you, those hold zero weight within the VA industry.
I've been a successful, fully-booked virtual assistant for 10 years having worked with 100+ clients - and not one time has someone asked me, "Are you a certified virtual assistant?" Not. Once. Clients just want to know that you're good at what you do, reliable, honest, and worth the price you're charging. There are many different ways you can prove these traits to them. They take place on your VA website, your social media, and in your contacts with them, not by handing them a piece of (virtual) paper that says you're "certified".
If someone I want to work with ever asks me if I'm a certified VA, I have an answer ready that you're free to borrow if you need it. Here goes: "Virtual Assistants don't have a governing body nor way to become officially certified. It's not customary nor expected in this profession. However, I'm happy to discuss all of my training and experience that qualifies me to perform the work you're requesting." BLADOW. Sorted.
Um ... and don't say "BLADOW. Sorted." to the potential client. That was just from me to you :P
There are 2 alternative ways to learn what you need to know as a new virtual assistant:
1. Take online courses that are VA-specific, in tune with today's virtual business and entrepreneurial worlds, and taught by someone who has worked as a virtual assistant for at least a few years (with valid testimonials to prove it). Of course, I have offerings here but if I'm not your cup of tea, no worries! There are tons of other options out there; just ask Mr. Google.
2. Speaking of your new BFF2 (because BFF1 would be ... ME!), you can use Mr. Google to totally DIY your virtual assistant education by researching online, taking free courses and webinars, and utilizing free learning portals. This is a great option if you have more time than money.
I hope I've sufficiently reassured you that you don't need to take college courses or get "certified" to start working as an at-home virtual assistant. I believe that either taking paid online courses by a experienced VA or doing the DIY thang with free resources are your two best options.
If I've left you with any questions or even if you think I'm full of shite, please do let me know in the Comments below, e-mail me at [email protected], or hit me up in the Facebook Group. What? You're not already a member? Well, you gotta' sign up for Erika Friday.com news and I'll send you a linkee. Hurry! You're missing all the fun over there and it's not the same without you.
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