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How to Become a Receptionist

Do you like to be the first point of contact in an office setting? Are you a courteous, friendly professional that can handle a wide variety of responsibilities? A position as a receptionist might be the fulfilling new job that you have been looking for.

Receptionists use their exceptional social skills to greet and welcome visitors. Answering incoming calls and forwarding to the appropriate person plays an important role in their job duties. Receiving and sorting through office mail is another daily task of a receptionist.

Receptionists’ work may vary day to day by performing a wide range of administrative and clerical tasks. They are also responsible for maintaining a clean and presentable reception area, while keeping pens, forms and other accessible items readily available. These important employees also ensure the consistency of friendly customer service. 

Receptionists may also update calendars and schedule meetings. The most important job of a receptionist is to ensure all administrative tasks are performed with high quality standards. They are excellent problem solvers, with great multitasking skills.

Sample job description

As a receptionist, you’ll be the first person many of our [clients/customers] meet. Representing the face and voice of the firm is important to [Your Company Name], which is why we need a receptionist who is organized, professional, and enjoys talking to people. As the first contact of our company, you may be responsible for scheduling appointments, preparing meeting rooms, welcoming visitors, directing calls, creating calendars and schedules, and more. You should be a self starter who is used to managing others.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Greet and direct visitors in office
  • Answer and forward incoming phone calls
  • Provide information in person and over the phone
  • Maintain office safety and security by following relevant procedures (visitor badges, logbooks, etc.)
  • Coordinate meetings and update calendars
  • Arrange travel and accommodations
  • Perform clerical duties including photocopying, faxing, filing and more

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent 
  • Three years of related experience
  • Associates degree preferred 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Impeccable attention to detail
  • Professional customer service skills
  • Proficiency using Microsoft Office Suite
  • Ability to greet and assist visitors
  • Excellent multitasking, stress management, and organization skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience answering and directing phone calls
  • Ability to quickly learn new software programs and applications 
  • Experience staying calm when dealing with upset visitors and being able to problem solve for a wide variety of office situations
  • Experience with Google Calendar

Typical work environment

Receptionists will often work at the front of the office at a desk so they can greet anyone who comes into the office. They often handle sensitive client and patient information, so they must be trustworthy and protect that data. Having the ability to speak and write clearly is important so that the people they interact with can easily understand them. While many receptionists are full-time employees in a company, there are some who will work part-time.

Receptionists usually keep regular office hours. Many retail centers will also have a receptionist, and this may require hours outside of the typical workday. Receptionists should expect to sit in front of a computer and telephone for extended periods of time, and also be available and accessible to any incoming visitors unless they’re on a lunch break.

Typical hours

For most receptionists, the typical work hours will be in an office setting and are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Part-time receptionists hours may vary based on the needs of the office or the hours of operation of the company.

Available certifications

Receptionists are not required to have any certifications, but an associate’s or bachelor’s degree could be preferred depending on the company, and further education will most likely lead to better career growth in the future. There aren’t too many certifications that can assist with a future career as a receptionist, but there are a few that will set you apart from the crowd: 

  • International Association of Administrative Professionals Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification requires passing the CAP exam, which covers a combination of education and professional experience. Keeping CAP certification current can show prospective employers you are up to date on knowledge and skills needed to be a successful receptionist.

Career path

The journey to becoming a receptionist begins by having clerical and administrative experience. Students who aspire to be a Receptionist are encouraged to pursue coursework and/or a degree that could be relevant. You will need a high school diploma or equivalent, but it can also be helpful to further your education.

Receptionists need to develop strong interpersonal skills to ensure they are able to effectively and efficiently help visitors and clients. Their duties will range and vary by office and by the professional you are working for (law, dental, business, etc.).

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-4171

2020 Employment1,016,200
Projected Employment in 20301,060,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 4% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift43,800 increase

Technology adaptability is an important skill for receptionists. Because there will be an increase in this position over the next 10 years, we can assume that the duties will also change significantly thanks to the introduction of technology. Receptionists use dozens of software applications. With so many different computer applications being used, it can be hard to know which program you will be using, so it is better to focus on familiarizing yourself with technology in general. Being able to quickly learn new software and programs will be crucial to landing a role as a Receptionist.