Are you a small business owner that has researched the possibility of hiring a Virtual Assistant to handle tasks that you can’t seem to get off your to-do list? Do you wonder why VA pricing seems higher than an on-site, in-house administrative assistant?

The following article will explain not only the difference in pricing between an on-site office administrative assistant and a virtual assistant but; it will also explain how the two differ in accountability. Contracting with a VA can actually be a cost saving over hiring a full-time, on-site administrative assistant! Read on…


On-site, in-house administrative assistants are employees. They must be paid on a daily or weekly basis, whether or not they actually worked the entire time. Most small businesses go through lulls and busy periods, but, when they hire an employee, that employee must be paid whether they are busy or not!

On-site administrative assistants are considered employees and will look for benefits such as medical, dental, vision and life insurance and paid time off. You, as the employer, will have to provide them with office space in your building, furnishings and computer equipment and programs. As a business owner, you are also legally responsible for withholding their taxes and providing W-2s at the end of the year.

As of 2017, the (average) rate for an in-house administrative assistant was $38,000/year or $23.00/hr., based on a 35-hour work week. Click here for the full article: Bureau of Labor Statistics: What does an Administrative Assistant handle?.

Because of today’s technology, virtual assistants can handle the typical in-house day-to-day duties that, in the past, could only be accomplished by an on-site administrative assistant. So how are they different?

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS (1099 Contractors)

Virtual assistants are small business owners also (not to be confused with AI such as Siri or Alexa). When you work with a VA, you will be hiring them as a 1099 Contractor. As a 1099 Contractor, VAs are solely responsible for paying their own Federal, State, and Local taxes and covering their own medical, dental, vision and life insurance. They also supply their own equipment, internet, office space, furniture, and furnishings.

The following link provides you with a more complete description of a VA. The article was published in Wikipedia and is a good overview of the VA business. Wikipedia article: What is a VA?

When you contract with a VA, it is not a boss/employee relationship; it’s two equals collaborating to create a work/life balance. They will work with you as collaborators; versus being a tasker. Many VAs specialize and get certified in specific niches, such as digital media marketing and strategy, website development and project management, to name a few.

A good VA knows the importance of working efficiently. Time management and organization are skills that VAs must learn and excel in early on in their business, as they usually work with and for multiple clients.

Other than the experience and knowledge a VA can bring to your business, hiring a VA gives you the financial flexibility of contracting only during your busy periods. You do not need to pay for their services when your business can’t justify the expense.

Virtual Assistants have been around for quite some time. A great article about the history of VAs can be found here The History of Virtual Assistants. The concept of Virtual Assistance is not new,” said Jodi L Diehl, past president of International Virtual Assistants Association. “Although the term Virtual Assistance became popular in the 1990s, individuals have worked as ‘telecommuters’ for more than 25 years.

“Originally telecommuting was reserved for those who were administrative in nature”, she continued. “With advancements in technology, the Virtual Assistant Industry now consists of enterprising individuals, many of whom have elected to leave corporate positions in order to provide highly skilled services virtually, as entrepreneurs.”

As with any contractor, VA rates can vary greatly, depending on the type of assistance your business requires.

At first glance, it may seem as though you will be paying more for a skilled Virtual Assistant but, if we look at it from a tax perspective, as shown in the table below, it paints a different picture.

In-House Administrative Assistant (U.S)*          Virtual Assistant

$23.00/hour                                             $30.00-$50.00+/hour (example only)

Social Security Tax withholding =          No additional bookkeeping headaches
6.2% of gross wages

Medicare Tax withholding =                    You pay only for the services
1.5% of gross wages                               requested, nothing more/nothing less

Health insurance = up to an additional 25% of wages

Sick, Vacation & Holiday pay

Equipment (computer, printer, fax, telephone)

Office Space (furniture and furnishings)

Paying for coffee, bio and other breaks**

*These numbers could vary, based on the country location of your business. Taxes quoted are for U.S. employers.

** Studies have shown that an employer can be paying up to 20% of an employee’s salary for ‘wasted time”

I hope you found this article informative. It has highlighted some factors that make VA pricing appear higher than an on-site Administrative Assistant; while explaining how contracting with a VA can potentially be a cost SAVINGS for your business.

If you are considering contracting with a virtual assistant, IVAA offers a free RFP system for you. Simply post your requirements and our members will reply to you with their proposals. Click here to learn about submitting an RFP

Karen Kannegiesser