Behind every successful CEO, President or C-suite executive is an assistant; an unsung cape-less hero who wholeheartedly uses his/her expertise and skill set to contribute to the boss’s “wins” on a daily basis.  

Assistants, whether technical, personal or executive, all have the responsibility of helping their boss and the organisation achieve its corporate objectives and strategic direction. In the past, assistants were perceived as typists and secretaries. However in today’s workplace, assistants have a gamut of duties from general administration to event management thereby evolving from being a secretary to become a strategic business partner to the boss.

Usually, bosses recruiting assistants prefer to hire those with a broad range of skills or with several years of experience, because a novice assistant is likely to need supervision and make costly mistakes which can affect his/her boss or even the organisation. Imagine a scenario where the boss misses an important meeting because his novice assistant made a calendar scheduling mistake and the organisation loses a deal worth millions of dollars, or the assistant puts his boss on the wrong flight which causes him to miss an appointment with investors, or the assistant erroneously sends confidential documents to the wrong parties, any of these scenarios could put a great executive in bad light.

However, great assistants are not born but made and skills required to excel on the job are acquired through instructor-led training, coaching or mentoring, hands-on training, lectures or e-learning etc. Assistants that undergo a lot of training demonstrate increased competency, efficiency and confidence. They are also able to command higher remuneration than their counterparts with little or no training.

If you are an assistant, here are seven free online courses to help round out your competencies.

  1. EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT SKILLS: – offered by Alison.com

Training Description: This entry level course delves into administrative soft skills (meeting management, resource and time management, phone and voice mail etiquette, communication skills) required to become an effective and efficient assistant. The course also explores how to achieve productivity goals. 

Time to Complete: 1.5 – 3 hours

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Available with payment


An assistant is often seen as an extension of his/her boss and an essential skill for any assistant is persuasive communication.

Training Description: This course introduces communication techniques commonly used by public figures, and how best to successfully utilise these techniques to enhance one’s career. After the course, participants would be able to effectively frame communication to build winning coalitions at work.

Time to Complete:  5 weeks (4-5 hours per week)

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Available with payment

  1. DEVELOPING RESOURCEFULNESS :- offered by LinkedIn Learning

Organisations are always looking to minimise costs while maximising their profit and competitive advantage and any employee that uses resources efficiently and effectively to achieve corporate goals would be identified as a star employee.

Training Description: This course reveals how to be resourceful and how to develop habits that cultivate resourcefulness.  Participants learn how to evaluate professional resources (information, expertise, personal network, access to finances etc.) and learn when and how to use these resources. 

Time to Complete: 1 hour

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Available with subscription plan

  1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT: – offered by the Open University

Project management is simply taking a goal and breaking it down into smaller manageable tasks with timelines, and in a way, all work professionals do this in their respective fields. However project management skills could become a career stepping stone to a leadership position in the long run. 

Training Description: This course introduces projects and explores the project management journey as well as its key players. Participants will understand what a project is, it’s risks, and the main activities of project management. 

Time to Complete: 35 hours

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Free Statement of Participation upon completion

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE SKILLS (SHORT COURSE) :– offered by Oxford Home Study

Training Description: The lessons in this short course are provided via a PDF file which students have to download and read, after which they take the online exam. Topics covered in the course include Appearance, Assertiveness, Communication, Writing Skills, Getting Ahead, Self-Management, Goal Setting, Working as a team and with difficult people.

Time to Complete: 20 hours

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Free online certificate

  1. EVENT MANAGEMENT COURSE (SHORT COURSE) offered by Brentwood Open Learning Course 

Being able to plan, organise and manage a successful event is a requisite skill for some assistant roles.

This free course explores event management, focusing on event creation, event marketing strategies and contemporary event management. 

Time to Complete: 20 hours

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Free course completion letter

  1. DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE IN LIFE & WORK: – offered by Alison.com

Interpersonal skills are an essential skill for all assistants and poor interpersonal skills can negatively impact one’s career path.

Training Description: This course teaches participants how to effectively deal with difficult people they will encounter in everyday life and at work. Participants learn how to master complex people skills, deal with difficult people, manage conflict and build healthy relationships.

Time to Complete: 1.5 – 3 hours 

Cost:  Free

Certificate: Available with payment

Technology has made it easy to acquire knowledge for new skills . A lot of e-learning platforms and sites have apps you can download on your phone, so you are able to enrol for these courses and learn on the go.

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