Summary

receptionists image
Receptionists provide general information about their organization to visitors.
Quick Facts: Receptionists
2015 Median Pay $27,300 per year
$13.12 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 1,028,600
Job Outlook, 2014-24 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 97,800

What Receptionists Do

Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.

Work Environment

Although receptionists are employed in nearly every industry, many work in healthcare, veterinary, and personal care services. About 3 in 10 worked part time in 2014.

How to Become a Receptionist

Receptionists typically need a high school diploma and good communication skills.

Pay

The median hourly wage for receptionists was $13.12 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of receptionists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities should be very good. Those with related work experience and experience using computers should have the best job prospects.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for receptionists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of receptionists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about receptionists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Receptionists Do About this section

Receptionists
Receptionists greet walk-in customers in hospitals and doctors' offices.

Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.

Duties

Receptionists typically do the following:

  • Answer telephone calls and take messages or forward calls
  • Schedule and confirm appointments and maintain calendars
  • Greet and welcome customers, clients, and other visitors
  • Check visitors in and direct or escort them to specific destinations
  • Inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellations
  • Enter customer data and send correspondence 
  • Copy, file, and maintain paper or electronic documents
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email

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, which can affect the organization’s success.

The specific responsibilities of receptionists vary depending on where they work. Receptionists in hospitals and doctors’ offices may collect patients’ personal information and direct patients to the waiting room. Some may handle billing and insurance payments.

In beauty or hair salons, they schedule appointments, direct clients to the hairstylist, and may serve as cashiers.

In factories, large corporations, and government offices, receptionists also may provide a security function. For example, they control access, provide visitor passes, and arrange to take visitors to the proper office.

When they are not busy with callers or visitors, receptionists perform other office tasks, such as processing documents or entering data.

Receptionists use telephones, computers, and other office equipment such as scanners and fax machines.

Work Environment About this section

Receptionists
Receptionists are employed in virtually every industry.

Receptionists held about 1.0 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most receptionists were as follows:

Offices of physicians 19%
Offices of dentists 7
Offices of other health practitioners 6
Personal care services 6
Veterinary services 5

Although receptionists are employed in nearly every industry, many work in healthcare, veterinary, and personal care services, including physicians’ and dentists’ offices, veterinary offices, and hair salons.

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

Some receptionists may face stressful situations, as they answer numerous phone calls and sometimes deal with difficult callers.

Work Schedules

Although most receptionists work during regular business hours, about 3 in 10 worked part time in 2014. Some receptionists, such as those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, may work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Receptionist About this section

Receptionists
Receptionists need to be good at communicating with people.

Although hiring requirements vary by industry and employer, receptionists typically need a high school diploma 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 applications. Courses in word processing and spreadsheet applications can be particularly helpful.

Training

Most receptionists receive short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few days to a week. Training typically covers procedures for visitors, and for telephone and computer use. Medical and legal offices also may instruct new employees on privacy rules related to patient and client information.

Advancement

Receptionists may advance to other administrative positions with more responsibilities, such as secretaries and administrative assistants. Advancement opportunities often depend on the employee’s experience in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet applications.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Receptionists must speak and write clearly so that others may understand them.

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

Integrity. Receptionists may handle client and patient data, especially in medical and legal offices. They must be trustworthy and protect their clients’ privacy.

Interpersonal skills. Receptionists should be comfortable interacting with people, even in stressful situations.

Organizational skills. Receptionists take messages, schedule appointments, and maintain employee files. They need good organizational skills to manage their diverse responsibilities.

Pay About this section

Receptionists

Median hourly wages, May 2015

Total, all occupations

$17.40

Information and record clerks

$14.91

Receptionists

$13.12

 

The median hourly wage for receptionists was $13.12 in May 2015. 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 $9.17, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.92.

In May 2015, the median hourly wages for receptionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Offices of dentists $15.28
Offices of physicians 13.79
Offices of other health practitioners 12.84
Veterinary services 12.50
Personal care services 10.39

Although most receptionists work during regular business hours, about 3 in 10 worked part time in 2014. Some receptionists, such as those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Receptionists

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Receptionists

10%

Information and record clerks

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of receptionists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

Growing healthcare industries are projected to lead demand for receptionists, particularly in the offices of physicians, other healthcare practitioners, and dentists. The number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. Coupled with demand for medical services from an aging population, this should result in a strong outlook for receptionists in the healthcare industries. Additionally, some receptionists’ tasks, such as checking patients in and coordinating patient care, are not easily automated.

Employment growth of receptionists in most other industries is expected to be slower as organizations continue to automate or consolidate administrative functions, such as by using computer software or websites to interact with the public or customers. In addition, organizations will continue to use technology, such as automated phone and online systems, further reducing the need for receptionists.

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be very good, with the best job opportunities in the healthcare industries.

Many job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Those with related work experience and experience in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet applications, should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for receptionists, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Receptionists and information clerks

43-4171 1,028,600 1,126,300 10 97,800 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of receptionists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

High school diploma or equivalent $31,720
General office clerks

General Office Clerks

General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,580
Information clerks

Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers.

See How to Become One $32,050
Secretaries and administrative assistants

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,500
Tellers

Tellers

Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank. These transactions include cashing checks, depositing money, and collecting loan payments.

High school diploma or equivalent $26,410
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Receptionists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/receptionists.htm (visited July 24, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.