How to Become a

Receptionist

The complete career guide to be a Receptionist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $31,890
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 3.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Receptionists handle incoming calls and visitors and direct them to the appropriate destinations. They commonly work in hotels, doctor’s offices, lawyer’s offices, and business offices. They may also handle the distribution of incoming mail, checking guests into systems, and handling customer service issues.


What is a Receptionist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in receptionist roles:

  • Receive incoming phone calls, and transfer calls to the appropriate recipient
  • Receive incoming visitors and direct them to their destinations
  • Operate computers and computer software programs
  • Provide customer service by answering customer and guest questions
  • Handle incoming and outgoing business mail

A Day in the Life

As an administrative clerk, receptionists can work in a wide variety of professional settings, and have an even wider range of responsibilities and tasks. Hotels, institutional offices, and corporations are all places where a receptionist might be found. While exact tasks may be different depending on the specific receptionist position, most will have a degree of interaction with the public as well as a support role for other company employees.

For customer-oriented job responsibilities, receptionists are commonly trained to have a pleasant attitude, listen attentively to needs, and employ heightened communication skills. From a technical standpoint, most receptionists will also have some understanding and technical proficiency with standard software packages as well as internal systems for bookkeeping or other concerns. Many employers ask that receptionists be familiar with Microsoft Office as a condition of employment.

In addition to in-person interaction with clients and other employees, receptionists will also usually be tasked with handling incoming phone calls and directing these calls to their appropriate destination or providing service over the phone when possible. Jobs for receptionists can also include general cleaning and other responsibilities depending on the employer. Set hours and schedules are common for receptionists, but a non-standard program is also possible.

Typical Work Schedule

The work schedule for a receptionist can vary greatly by employer and industry. Those that work in business, doctor, or lawyer offices commonly work full-time during normal business hours. Those that work for hotels and other businesses with extended hours may need to work second or third shifts, and may be required to work weekends and holidays.

Projected Job Growth

Increases in demand for healthcare—due to an aging Baby Boomer population and greater access to health insurance—is expected to increase demand for receptionists in the coming decade, particularly in the healthcare industry.

Typical Employers

Receptionists are commonly employed to work in the offices of healthcare providers, for veterinarians, lawyers, and many other types of businesses that receive incoming calls and visits from clients or customers.


How To Become a Receptionist

Few receptionist positions require postsecondary education, but general computer skills are often a necessity. For this reason, college coursework or certificates in popular software programs and computer systems can be beneficial. Successful completion could increase the chances of finding receptionist employment. For anything other than the most common programs, many employers will provide on-the-job training. This training will also help to explain the specific tasks involved in the position.

Fortunately for those seeking a receptionist job, many opportunities are available—nearly every industry employs receptionists in some way, shape, or form. From the office of a book publishing company to a private psychiatrist to a corporate manufacturing facility, each will likely have a receptionist that takes on both customer service-related tasks as well as those that are strictly internal to the company.

A person might begin their career as a receptionist but be promoted to an advanced position, such as an administrative assistant or personal secretary. These jobs are usually more as support staff but do often retain some public-facing duties. In addition, many people use a receptionist position as a starting point to learn more about an industry and eventually transfer to a different within the same company, such as becoming a hotel shift manager.


Receptionist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$22,540

Average

$31,890

High Range

$48,540

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$11/hr

Average

$15/hr

High Range

$23/hr

How do Receptionist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Receptionist's can make an average annual salary of $31,890, or $15 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $22,540 or $11 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #670 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Receptionists

  • 0.6%   Doctorate
  • 3.4%   Masters
  • 16.9%   Bachelors
  • 11.8%   Associates
  • 33.8%   College
  • 30%   High School
  • 3.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

3,062,500

2024 Est. Jobs

3,158,200

Job Growth Rate

3.1%

Est. New Jobs

95,700

How does Receptionist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 95,700 jobs for a total of 3,158,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 3.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #514 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Receptionists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 182,500 600 1%
Temporary help services 148,000 16,700 17%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 111,700 -1,300 -1%

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