How to Become a Receptionist
Receptionist Careers & Degrees

When you become a receptionist, you become the warm and welcoming face that represents an organization.

The receptionist is the first point of contact for clients, and also the person that both staff and customers turn to for assistance.

To succeed as a receptionist, you will need excellent interpersonal skills.

You will need to stay a step ahead of your colleagues and clients, so as to anticipate their needs.

You’ll also need to have a very pleasant manner and good presentation skills.

Receptionists also perform a range of administrative duties.

While some may simply answer the phone and take inquiries, others may have complex roles in administration, data entry, or accounting for example.

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Education Requirements to Become a Receptionist

Most that hold this position have a high school diploma, a few have some higher education although this is not essential.

When you become a receptionist, it’s likely that most of your training will occur on the job.

You’ll be able to learn as you work all of the necessary skills required as you go along.

Often, a new receptionist is paired up with someone more experienced for a week or two to show them the ropes.

Other than a high school diploma or GED, employers look for receptionists with great interpersonal skills.

Having had some work experience in customer service will be of great benefit, since receptionists need to be able to listen well and respond quickly and concisely.

Having good written and verbal communication skills is also essential.

Another quality that an employer will look for in a receptionist is computer literacy.

If you are at high school you may like to take some classes in this area.

Good typing speed and accuracy will help you get a role, as well as office related software.

Receptionist Job Description

A receptionist is the first person at a company that many clients and customers meet.

It may be a polite voice on the phone or a pleasant face meeting someone in an office.

Receptionists take incoming calls, direct visitors, take messages, and confirm appointments.

When you become a receptionist you may also take on a more complex role.

Many help with scheduling and booking appointments for senior staff, while also performing administration duties, for instance typing correspondence or sorting mail.

Filing and faxing are also common duties.

In smaller companies, receptionists may help with accounting duties.

They may prepare invoices or enter received bills into a computer, or follow up on unpaid accounts or even compile end of month reports.

Here are some of the duties of a receptionist:

  • Answering phones
  • Directing calls
  • Taking messages
  • Confirming appointments
  • Greeting visitors
  • Scheduling
  • Word processing
  • Filing
  • Faxing

Receptionist Salary and Career Path

When you first become a receptionist, an entry level role would usually require you to answer phones and direct customers.

As you gain more skills, there is usually opportunity in an organization to take on more responsibilities, such as administration.

Many receptionists are promoted to become administration assistants, or accounts assistants.

Some may become personal assistants to directors or other managers within the organizations, while others may be promoted to positions that are specialist to the industry they are employed in.

The current median wage for a receptionist is $11.80 an hour.

Working full-time, this equates to about $24,000 a year.

The demand for receptionists is expected to increase by 15% in the coming years, which is very good growth.

There is also a demand as many people do not stay in this role for long.

After a year or two many are promoted to more challenging roles, or leave the industry to pursue other interests.

Some jobs similar to that of receptionist you might be interested include:

  • Customer service representative
  • Administrative assistant
  • Payroll officer
  • Accounts assistant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Secretary

If you’re looking for a role that doesn’t need any formal education qualification then you might like to become a receptionist.

There are plenty of opportunities in this field, and also good job security.

Many who work as receptionists go on to more complex roles and make a career out of this occupation.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$31,250
$21K
$25K
$31K
$36K
$43K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$26,780
Alaska$35,460
Arizona$30,940
Arkansas$28,130
California$34,740
Colorado$33,050
Connecticut$36,520
Delaware$27,650
District of Columbia$40,050
Florida$29,400
Georgia$28,740
Hawaii$34,100
Idaho$29,350
Illinois$31,160
Indiana$29,060
Iowa$29,930
Kansas$28,250
Kentucky$28,250
Louisiana$26,170
Maine$31,710
Maryland$32,600
Massachusetts$34,200
Michigan$30,890
Minnesota$31,720
Mississippi$27,080
Missouri$28,300
Montana$27,990
Nebraska$29,660
Nevada$29,660
New Hampshire$31,090
New Jersey$33,370
New Mexico$29,140
New York$35,870
North Carolina$29,510
North Dakota$30,090
Ohio$28,880
Oklahoma$28,720
Oregon$32,490
Pennsylvania$29,910
Rhode Island$34,530
South Carolina$28,290
South Dakota$28,230
Tennessee$28,370
Texas$28,460
Utah$28,230
Vermont$32,910
Virginia$30,300
Washington$35,360
West Virginia$27,290
Wisconsin$31,020
Wyoming$29,070
Guam$22,140
Puerto Rico$19,280
Virgin Islands$27,950

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $40,050.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $40,050
Connecticut - $36,520
New York - $35,870
Alaska - $35,460
Washington - $35,360
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Receptionists and Information Clerks, OCC Code 43-4171, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a receptionist do?

A receptionist makes the first impression of an organization (and that can certainly affect the overall success of the company).

Receptionists are usually the first to have contact with the customer; they are also responsible for performing various administrative tasks (like giving information and answering the phone calls).

The typical tasks that a receptionist can handle include greeting the visitors and escorting them to specific destinations; helping to monitor the access to ensure safety; sending or obtaining information or documents; maintaining documents and records; preparing, sorting, and collecting various mail deliveries, and so on.

Depending on the work establishment, the responsibilities of a receptionist can vary a bit.

Specialists in doctors’ offices, for example, can gather the patients’ insurance and personal information.

QuestionHow much do receptionists make?

On average, receptionists earn around $23.500 per year in the United States.

However, depending on the level of education and experience, the salary of a specialist can range from $16.500 to about $33.000 annually.

The wage would certainly depend on the sector or the individual that the receptionist decides to work for.

Entry-level receptionists can expect to earn a little more than $8 per hour, while top-level receptionists can make over $16 hourly.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a receptionist?

It is not necessary to have a degree, in case you want to become a receptionist.

A certificate or a diploma might be enough for some industries and those can cost you anywhere from $600 to over $25.000.

The programs at the pricier end provide more specific knowledge, while the cheapest options are intensive courses that can be completed in a few months or even less.

An associate’s degree will cost around $3.000-$3.500 per year, while a bachelor’s degree will cost you between $35.000 and $115.000 to complete.

Accommodation, books, and supplies should be paid for separately.

QuestionWhat is the demand for receptionists?

Between 2016 and 2026, the receptionist job market is expected to grow by 9.1% in the United States.

The career path is going to be providing good employment opportunities in the near future.

Even though a lot of tasks that the receptionists are responsible for can be performed through a computer system, the majority of companies still need to have a ‘face’ that will be making the first impression on customers.

Bear in mind that the industry is concentrated in New York, Florida, and California.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a receptionist?

Some receptionist courses might take you a few months or even less to complete.

There are industries that are ready to hire high school graduates without a degree, in case the candidates have acquired basic English, computer, and office skills.

Medical or legal receptionists, for example, have to know industry-specific terms (some community colleges and technical schools offer such instructions).

You can always acquire a degree in business administration.

An associate’s degree will take you 2 years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree will require 4 years.

Soe receptionists can earn a degree in psychology or communication.

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