Summary

receptionists image
Receptionists provide information to visitors and the public.
Quick Facts: Receptionists
2012 Median Pay $25,990 per year
$12.49 per hour
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, 2012 1,006,700
Job Outlook, 2012-22 14% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 135,900

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 and personal care services, including physicians’ and dentists’ offices and hair salons. About 1 in 3 worked part time in 2012.

How to Become a Receptionist

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

Pay

The median hourly wage for receptionists was $12.49 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of receptionists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities should be good. Those with related work experience and good computer skills should have the best job prospects.

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 doctor’s 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 event 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 and records
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail

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.

For example, receptionists in hospitals and doctors’ offices may gather 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 may also 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 million jobs in 2012 and were employed in nearly every industry.

The industries that employed the most receptionists in 2012 were as follows:

Offices of physicians 19%
Offices of dentists 7
Offices of other health practitioners5
Personal care services5

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

The work that some receptionists do may be stressful, as they answer numerous phone calls and sometimes deal with difficult or irate callers.

Work Schedules

Although most receptionists work during regular business hours, about 1 in 3 worked part time in 2012. Some receptionists, including those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, may work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Receptionist About this section

Receptionists
Most receptionists have at least a high school diploma.

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 its equivalent, and some employers may prefer to hire candidates who also possess basic computer skills. Courses in word processing and spreadsheet application at community colleges and vocational schools 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 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 employees’ computer skills, work habits, and work experience.

Important 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 About this section

Receptionists

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$16.71

Office and administrative support occupations

$15.15

Receptionists and information clerks

$12.49

 

The median hourly wage for receptionists was $12.49 in May 2012. 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 $8.71 per hour, and the top 10 percent earned more than $18.16 per hour.

In May 2012, the median hourly wages for receptionists in the top four industries employing receptionists were as follows:

Offices of dentists $14.67
Offices of physicians 13.09
Offices of other health practitioners11.86
Personal care services9.65

Although most receptionists work during regular business hours, about 1 in 3 worked part time in 2012. Some receptionists, including those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Receptionists

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Receptionists and information clerks

14%

Total, all occupations

11%

Office and administrative support occupations

7%

 

Employment of receptionists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment growth will result mainly from a growing healthcare industry. Specifically, offices of physicians and dentists are expected to add the most receptionist jobs as an aging population will demand more medical services. In addition, the number of individuals who have health insurance is expected to increase due to federal health insurance reform legislation, resulting in a greater need for office staff in healthcare facilities. Some receptionists’ tasks, such as checking patients in and coordinating patient care, are not easily automated.

Employment growth of receptionists in most other industries should be slower than the average for all occupations as organizations continue to automate or consolidate administrative functions, such as using computer software to interact with the public or customers. 

In addition, technology will continue to make organizations more productive with the use of automated phone systems, further reducing the need for receptionists.

Job Prospects

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

Many job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Those with related work experience and good computer skills should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for receptionists, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Receptionists and information clerks

43-4171 1,006,700 1,142,600 14 135,900 [XLS]

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 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,580
General office clerks

General Office Clerks

General office clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks, including answering telephones, typing or word processing, making copies of documents, and maintaining records.

High school diploma or equivalent $27,470
Information clerks

Information Clerks

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

High school diploma or equivalent $30,650
Secretaries and administrative assistants

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,330
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 $24,940
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Receptionists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/receptionists.htm (visited September 01, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014