There’s never enough time for the important things in work and life. Throughout history, delegating tasks to other people has been an excellent method to get more things done. Even in the internet age, this hasn’t changed. In fact, outsourcing tasks to others is now even more accessible with the popularity of virtual assistants or VAs.
Across countries all over the world, one of the most popular countries to hire virtual assistants is the Philippines. Filipino virtual assistants are known to be English-proficient, hardworking, and adaptable.
Based on data from salary aggregators like Glassdoor and Indeed:
Entry-level virtual assistants can be hired from the Philippines from USD 3 to 6 per hour. While experienced virtual assistants can be paid from USD 7 to 12.50+ per hour depending on their specialty. If you prioritize the success of your business, it’s advisable to consider the upper end of those rates.
In-demand skills, competition, and the rising cost of living have been driving salary expectations up. So, just think of these salary ranges as a baseline of how much to pay your Filipino virtual assistants.
In this guide, we’ll explore the different things to consider when deciding how much to pay Filipino virtual assistants and why “paying them on the cheap” might actually hurt your business in the long run.
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How You Hire Your Filipino VA Affects the Cost
There are three main methods to hire a VA. The method you choose will impact how in control you are over your Philippine virtual assistant costs.
The first method is through Philippine VA recruitment agencies. Here, you don’t have much say in the salary and cost of the Filipino virtual assistants you hire. In exchange, the agency handles the screening (and training) process for you. So, you get quality VA candidates for the premium you pay, plus a few other value-add services too.
Here’s a table that shows how much it would cost to hire Filipino VAs through some of the popular agencies (as of April 2023, does not include agency’s additional fees):
The second method is to hire a Filipino VA directly through job marketplaces and online forums. Not only does going direct give you more control over how much you pay your Filipino VA, but it’s also easier to build a strong work relationship. But you do have to do all the screening, recruitment, and training yourself.
Finally, the third method is a mix of the two. You can work with a Philippine VA agency to headhunt a quality VA candidate based on your specific requirements. MultiplyMii and Support Shepherd are popular agencies for this purpose due to the value-add services they provide on top of recruitment.
How much to pay Filipino virtual assistants? To decide, you can use the table of VA costs from agencies as a guide. From there, you can trim down the costs based on the agency inclusions that you think you don’t need. You can also do research on job marketplaces like Onlinejobs.ph and Upwork.
But know that giving too low of a salary does come with tradeoffs. So, it’s an excellent idea to learn the current benchmarks in the VA industry as well as the cost of living in the Philippines.
The Average Filipino Virtual Assistant Salary
There are two basic classifications for virtual assistants. Generalist VAs are the jack-of-all-trades for administrative and support work. These are the kinds of VAs that business owners usually look for when they need help with repetitive but important tasks.
Here are the average virtual assistant base salaries per month and per hour of Filipino generalist VAs (data from salary aggregators as of February 2023). Note that the total salary may increase after adding in benefits, commissions, and bonuses.
General Virtual Assistant (Entry-Level) Salaries:
Take note though. From the point of view of someone living in the Philippines, this data seems outdated – especially with the quickly rising cost of living.
According to Numbeo, the monthly cost of living in the Philippines is USD 545.10 or PHP 30,968 as of October 2023. So, a salary range of USD 2 to 3 per hour may not be that appealing anymore, particularly for Filipinos living in more expensive cities.
There is currently an ongoing debate regarding the acceptable payment for VAs. But just remember, when hiring Filipino VAs, the saying “you get what you pay for” still applies.
So yes, you can decide to pay low. But don’t expect to find quality VA candidates easily.
Specialized Virtual Assistant Salaries:
Up next is the second classification of VAs which are Specialized VAs. They are proficient in a certain skill set or tool allowing them to finish more complex tasks.
Specialized VAs typically require a higher salary. A bookkeeper is still a bookkeeper despite being called a bookkeeping VA. Same with social media managers, designers, and video editors. VAs with specialties should be paid the necessary salary despite the VA word being slapped onto the job title.
Things to Consider for Your Filipino Virtual Assistant's Salary
As entrepreneurs and employees ourselves, we get it. The reason you are hiring from outside your country is to save on labor costs. Anything you save can be used to push the growth of your business even further.
But how low is too low? It’s a free market. Yes, there are Filipino VAs who might be willing to pursue low-paying jobs out of necessity. But the lower cost for your business might also come with its own problems.
Here are some things you should consider when deciding how much to pay a Filipino virtual assistant:
- Skill Level. The saying “You get what you pay for” also applies when you are hiring Filipino VAs. The people who are willing to take lower-paying jobs are the most likely to have little experience and proficiency. It’s true that Filipino VAs are adaptable and can be trained well but that leads us to our next point.
- Turnover. The training you provided might become a waste if the VA leaves in the short term. Lower pay means the VA is unlikely to stay long with your company. Once the immediate necessity is gone, they might be looking to be employed elsewhere.
- Overemployment. Even if they don’t leave, they are more than likely to get another client if the pay is too low. This means their focus is not on your business. Crucial tasks may suffer delays if not handled properly.
- Costs of Being a VA. Usually, a Filipino Virtual Assistant has to pay for their own equipment, electricity, government contributions and other costs of doing business. So, if you pay too low and it’s not enough to cover their expenses, then it’s highly likely for them to seek other employment. This is why some employers agree to shoulder some of these costs as part of the benefits they give.
- Local Opportunities & Benefits. Local BPO companies in the Philippines also provide a competitive rate for remote workers. The pay includes government-mandated benefits plus 13th month pay. BPO employees also don’t need to spend on their equipment. So, if you can’t beat that then they are also not likely to stay with you long.
- Work Hours & Schedule. Not many people like working the graveyard shift. So, if there’s no adequate compensation for working late night hours, then the Filipino VA will likely think that it’s not worth it and leave.
- Job roles and work scope. Let’s be very real here, the term virtual assistant is being used nowadays for an online-only employee who helps the business owner with various tasks, even if that task is specialized. You could even argue that the words “virtual assistant” are being used to dilute the value of certain job roles. But at the end of the day, the more specialized the role or the larger the work scope, the more the VA should be paid.
Increased training time, disruption of business, and a diminished employer brand are just some of the problems that come with a high turnover rate. These problems come with their own monetary cost equivalent. Remember, you’re not really saving money if you’re just putting out the fires in your business.
6 Steps to Determine How Much to Pay Filipino Virtual Assistants
Now, armed with more knowledge about the average salary of a Philippine virtual assistant and factors that may influence your decision, let’s talk about the steps you should take in deciding fair compensation.
Step 1: Outline the Job Scope & Responsibilities
It’s very important to have a clear idea of what your Filipino virtual assistant’s job responsibilities will be. In fact, you should have it down in writing as a Job Description. This will make it much easier for you to match with a Filipino VA that meets all of your requirements.
The job description will also be your basis for determining the following:
- The skill level of the Filipino VA you need
- What you have to research to pay a fair compensation
- If you need the Filipino VA to work with you full-time, part-time or on a project-basis
So, make sure to write down as many details as you can. For now, this document could be for your eyes only. You can adjust it as you see fit for a formal job listing later.
Step 2: Define the Outcome You Want for a Successful Hire
There are many factors that you can take into consideration for a successful hire such as team fit, communication skills, adaptability, and job performance. Ideally, the best Filipino VA candidate for you should be excellent in all of those.
But in the real world, each candidate has their own strengths and weakness. So, to find the VA that would help you reach your goals, you should decide early on regarding what outcome you would consider a success.
Is it the complete turnover of admin tasks to your VA? Is it the peace of mind that you can take a day off and your business will still run smoothly?
Every desired outcome has a respective competency requirement from the VA you will hire. And these competencies may come with an increase in the adequate salary necessary for your Filipino VA.
Step 3: Research the Going Rate for Filipino VAs That Can Deliver the Outcome You Need
There are many places where you can check the rates for certain VA skills. Some Philippine VA agencies publish rate tables for the different kinds of VAs. But they are not exactly a clear-cut reference since agencies mark up the prices as a middleman.
Next, in terms of job marketplaces, Upwork, and Onlinejobs.ph are decent places to start. Refer to your job description and check for similar listings. This should give you a better idea of the going rates.
But know that there are listings that may skew your data. Some can be extremely low or unusually high. When in doubt, you might want to ask in social media groups where Filipino VAs hang out, such as r/buhaydigital on Reddit or Online Filipino Freelancers on Facebook.
Step 4: Decide on a Base Salary & in What Currency
Based on what you’ve researched you can now decide on a base salary. Once you have that number, decide if you want to pay in your native currency, in US dollar, or Philippine peso.
Most employers typically pay in their native currency since that’s more convenient for them. Popular online payment options have a way to convert the currency anyway at the discretion of the Filipino VA.
Now, before making a job hiring post, hold on to that base salary number for now. You might want to adjust it based on the next step.
Step 5: Consider Benefits, Increases, Bonuses & Commissions as Incentives
For the final consideration of your Filipino VA’s base salary number, you can also think about the following:
- Benefits – Typically, Filipino VAs would voluntarily pay government benefits, such as healthcare and pension, on their own using the salary employers provide. It’s not required on your end as a foreign client, but it would be much appreciated by the VA.
- Salary Increases – An excellent strategy for ensuring long-term commitment to your company is in the form of salary increases. If you believe that the Filipino VA contributed well to the growth of your business, then an increase may be deserved. This may also affect your strategy for the initial base salary.
- Bonuses – When locally employed, Filipinos typically expect a 13th month bonus in December. Companies in the Philippines pay this mandatory cash benefit as required by law. But when earning a salary from foreign clients, this is optional and it’s totally up to you if you want to reward your Filipino VA for a year well done.
- Commissions – Depending on the nature of your business, a Filipino VA in your company may be tasked with cold calling and sales. The base salary may be adjusted if commissions are included in the package. But typically, it’s better to just share the sales income as a performance incentive.
It’s up to you if you want to make any adjustments to your Filipino VA’s base salary based on above. If you feel that it’s too complicated, you can just put it off until you’ve hired your Filipino VA. Then, you can directly ask them what kind of salary package would be appealing to them.
Step 6: Post a Job Listing & Tweak Salary as Necessary
Now it’s time to post a job listing and wait for applications to arrive. After a day or three, you should have a handful of VA candidates.
What was the reception to your job posting like? Were there any applicants that met your job requirements? Reviewing the quality of the candidates in your pool may indicate if the base salary is too low or just right.
Don’t be disheartened if there aren’t any applicants fitting your needs.
If there are no prospective applicants, you can consider increasing the base salary or widening your reach by using multiple job platforms. Alternatively, you can settle any competency issues by providing training to an applicant who is a good fit for your company culture.
It takes a bit of work but finding the right Filipino VA can really take the load off your daily work routine.
Conclusion: The More You Put in, the More You Get out
Just like with any kind of business, investing in the right people is essential for success. Your decision on how much to pay Filipino virtual assistants can have a significant effect on their performance. This will also affect your overall business especially if they handle crucial time-sensitive tasks.
Try not to go lower than recommended VA hourly rates in the Philippines if your budget allows it. You might also want to offer other incentives like commissions, bonuses, and benefits.
But of course, you have to get your money’s worth. Make sure to screen your VA applicants carefully. For online work, try to adopt a “show, not tell” approach. Ask for samples of their work so you can be assured of the quality.
Once you’ve hired a VA, make sure to communicate clearly and consistently. Online work relationships take work and the more you put in, the more you get out of it. You can use tools like Zoom, Loom, Trello, and Canva to streamline the work process.
Lastly, be open to increasing a Filipino virtual assistant’s salary if they perform well. This is an important incentive for them to not only work hard but also to stay with you in the long term.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best methods to pay a Filipino VA?
Typically, Filipino VAs would prefer payment methods that have higher conversion rates, lower fees, and easy accessibility. Wise, Payoneer, and Paypal are some of the top candidates for the best payment methods.
Wise.com, in particular, is the most recommended payment method in Filipino VA groups like r/buhaydigital. It’s pretty easy to use for the employer too. You can just create an account and send money directly to your employees’ local bank accounts.
For more details, please see the article “How to Pay Virtual Assistants in the Philippines.”
How often should I pay my Filipino VA?
This is up to you. There are pros and cons to paying weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. Paying weekly gives your Filipino VAs more confidence that you are a credible employer. It’s also possible to motivate employees by having their much-needed salary sent to them frequently and on time.
However, the flip side is that you need to do the salary disbursement task weekly – which might eat up your time. If you are very busy, this would make monthly salary disbursements more appealing.
Paying your Filipino VA every two weeks is a nice in-between. You don’t have to do the task as often and the Filipino VA would be happy to receive the money with a bit more regularity.