Receptionists do administrative tasks, such as answering phones, greeting visitors, and providing general information about their organization.

Duties

Receptionists typically do the following:

  • Answer the telephone and take messages or forward calls
  • Schedule and confirm appointments and maintain calendars
  • Greet customers, clients, and other visitors
  • Check in visitors and direct or escort them to their destinations
  • Inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellations
  • Enter customer information into the organization's database
  • Copy, file, and maintain paper or electronic documents
  • Handle incoming and outgoing correspondence

Receptionists are often the first employee of an organization to have contact with a customer or client. They are responsible for making a good first impression for the organization.

Receptionists’ specific responsibilities vary by employer. For example, receptionists in hospitals and doctors’ offices may collect patients’ personal information and direct patients to the waiting room. Some handle billing and insurance payments.

In large corporations and government offices, receptionists may have a security role. For example, they may control access to the organization by issuing visitor passes and escorting visitors to their destination.

Receptionists use telephones, computers, and other office equipment, such as shredders and printers.

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Work Environment

Receptionists held about 1.1 million jobs in 2018. The largest employers of receptionists were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance 46%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 10
Personal care services 6
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations                           4
Administrative and support services 4

Receptionists are employed in nearly every industry.

Receptionists usually work in areas that are visible and accessible to the public and other employees, such as the front desk of a lobby or waiting room.

Some receptionists face stressful situations. They may have to answer numerous phone calls or deal with difficult visitors.

Work Schedules

Most receptionists work full time. Some receptionists, such as those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, work evenings and weekends.

Education and Training

Although hiring requirements vary by industry and employer, receptionists typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and good communication skills.

Education

Receptionists typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, and employers may prefer to hire candidates who have experience with certain computer software. Proficiency in word processing and spreadsheet applications may be particularly helpful.

Training

Most receptionists receive short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few days up to a month. Training typically covers procedures for greeting visitors, answering the telephone, and using the computer.

Advancement

Receptionists may advance to other administrative occupations with more responsibilities, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

Personality and Interests

Receptionists typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a receptionist, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Receptionists should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. The ability to communicate clearly is essential for receptionists because much of their job involves conveying information by phone or in person.

Customer-service skills. Receptionists represent an organization. As a result, they should be courteous, professional, and helpful toward the public and customers.

Integrity. In medical and legal offices, receptionists handle client and patient data. As a result, they must be trustworthy and protect the privacy of their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Good people skills are important because receptionists deal with the public. They should be comfortable when interacting with people, even in stressful situations.

Organizational skills. Because receptionists take messages, schedule appointments, and maintain employee files, they should have good organizational skills.

Pay

The median hourly wage for receptionists was $14.45 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.16, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.86.

In May 2019, the median hourly wages for receptionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance $15.08
Professional, scientific, and technical services 14.70
Administrative and support services 14.49
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations                         13.38
Personal care services 12.13

Most receptionists work full time. Receptionists who work in hospitals and nursing homes may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of receptionists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Growing healthcare industries are projected to lead demand for receptionists, particularly in the offices of physicians, dentists, and other healthcare practitioners.

Employment growth of receptionists in other industries is expected to be slower as organizations continue to automate or consolidate administrative functions. For example, many organizations use computer software, websites, mobile applications, or other technology to interact with the public or customers.

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be good, especially in healthcare industries. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Those with related work experience and proficiency using computers should have the best job prospects.

For More Information

For more information about training for receptionists and those in other administrative careers, visit

American Society of Administrative Professionals

 

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.