What Does a Receptionist Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Emilie Dunphy. © The Balance 2019

 

By definition, a receptionist is the first person to be seen by a visitor to any business. They're a company's first line of defense. The front entrance of an office complex or a medical facility will usually have a receptionist stationed there to direct visitors to the correct office within the facility. Individual offices inside the company might also have their own receptionists.

Receptionist Duties & Responsibilities

Receptionists perform a variety administrative and office tasks:

  • Answer phone calls: This can involve taking messages or directing calls to appropriate personnel, and even directly answering general questions from clients, customers, and others.
  • Schedule clients and customers: Most receptionists are responsible for scheduling clients and customers to meet with personnel, or they'll schedule personnel for off-site duties, such as court appearances and meetings.
  • Receive visitors: A receptionist might be able to deal with a client's needs himself, but often directs them to the proper personnel or location.
  • Collect information: This is most common for those who work in medical facilities. They might be charged with gathering personal information from new patients and confirming insurance coverage.
  • Respond to incoming mail: This includes both email and paper mail, typically directing each to the proper personnel.

Some receptionists also assume secretarial duties, such as typing, filing, and copying correspondence and documents.

Receptionist Salary

Salary can vary somewhat by industry, but this is often an entry-level position and pays accordingly. Receptionists are commonly compensated by the hour, but some might earn salaries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $28,392 ($13.65/Hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $40,872 ($19.65/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $20,072 ($9.65/hour)

Education, Training & Certification

This is not a position that requires a great deal of education or training.

  • Education: Receptionists are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Training: Training is often on the job and specific to the needs of the particular industry or company.
  • Experience: Knowledge of computer programs and software can be helpful because many of a receptionist's tasks are expedited by technology.

Receptionist Skills & Competencies

Required skills for a receptionist job can vary based on the industry, but some are common to most companies.

  • Professionalism: You’re the first person a client or other visitor sees upon arriving. You’re their first impression of your employer. You should embody your company’s ideals, both in your behavior and in your appearance.
  • Communication skills: Your primary job is to greet people. Find out what they need, and help them get it. Most of this communication will be verbal, either in person or by telephone.
  • Interpersonal skills: You'll work closely with various people. If an important meeting falls through, you might have to explain why. If someone is having a bad day, you could bear the brunt of it and responding appropriately can be critical.
  • Nerves of steel: If an emergency develops in or in front of your place of business, you might be the first person who must respond and decide what to do.
  • Technology skills: You'll be using a complex telephone system, probably one featuring multiple internal and external lines that you must keep operating smoothly. You might also have to be familiar with spreadsheets, word-processing software, your company’s email and file-sharing systems, and possibly several social media platforms.
  • Organization: You'll be the nexus of a large part of your employer’s internal communication, so you’ll not only have to keep yourself organized but you’ll have to keep everyone else organized, too. You might be responsible for stocking and straightening reading materials or informational resources in your waiting area as well.
  • Multitasking capability: A phone call will inevitably come in while you're still on the line with someone else. You'll have to greet the new caller, then switch back. Meanwhile, three people might be waiting in person to talk to you. You'll have to keep the needs of each person separate in your mind, not neglect anyone, and not get overwhelmed or frustrated.

Job Outlook

Overall, job growth for receptionists in healthcare industries is anticipated to be about 9% from 2016 through 2026, which is about average. Other industries might become more reliant on technology and less in need of human gatekeepers.

Advancement is common in-house. Many receptionists move up to other positions within their companies.

Work Environment

Receptionists can be found in virtually every industry. It's their job to guard the door and maintain order over incoming guests, telephones, and mail. This means they don't have much in the way of personal privacy. Their workplaces are typically located in high-traffic areas, and they might have to deal with unpleasant customers, clients, or situations.

Work Schedule

This is typically a full-time position during regular business hours. This can vary among businesses that remain open on weekends, holidays or evenings, however, such as medical facilities. Approximately 25% of receptionists work part-time.

How to Get the Job

WRITE THE PERFECT COVER LETTER

Your resume doesn't have to stand on its own. A good cover letter will grab your reader's attention right from the start, compelling her to flip the page and read on. Try these examples.

RESEARCH COMMONLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

You're sure to be asked some common questions when you sit down for an interview. Find out what they are, learn the best answers, and practice your answers ahead of time.

Comparing Similar Jobs

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Receptionist Resume Example

This is an example of a resume for a receptionist position. Download the receptionist resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a receptionist job resume sample
©TheBalance 2018

Receptionist Resume Example (Text Version)

Jonathan Applicant
123 Moore Avenue
Albany, NY 12201
(111) 222-3333
jonathan.applicant@email.com

RECEPTIONIST

Managing a busy, fast-paced office with professionalism and efficiency

Experienced in both legal and medical settings and take pride in being the first face clients see in the office or the first voice they hear on the phone.

Key skills include:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Multiline phones
  • Conflict resolution
  • Customer service
  • Highly organized
  • Multitasking

PROFESSIONAL AND VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

LAW OFFICES OF SMITH AND REILLY, Colonie, NY
RECEPTIONIST/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT (February 2015—Present)

First person of contact for clients. Organize documents in preparation for court dates. Schedule and attend meetings and take minutes. Other general office duties.

DENTAL OFFICE OF DR. SMITH, Albany, NY
RECEPTIONIST (November 2012—January 2015)

Greeted patients when they arrived. Scheduled appointments in person and over the phone. Handled medical files (making notations, sorting, and filing). Filed claims with dental insurance companies.

NATIONAL POWER AND GAS COMPANY, Albany, NY
CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE (May 2011—October 2012)

Answered customer service calls and resolved problems and concerns. Directed customers to appropriate resources when necessary. Comfortably used computer-based customer service system.

CAMP HAPPINESS, Albany, NY
VOLUNTEER COUNSELOR (June 2009—Present)

Spend one week every summer working at the camp for school-aged children. Organize activities and serve as a mentor for attending youth.

EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS

CITY COLLEGE, Albany, NY
Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, 2011