What is the job & role of a receptionist?

Written by s. herlihy
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What is the job & role of a receptionist?
A job as a receptionist can be an ideal way to start your career. (negocios 65 image by Jaume Felipe from Fotolia.com)

Many companies employ receptionists. A receptionist is often the first person a visitor sees when entering a company's doors and the last face they see as they exit. An ideal receptionist should be calm and well organised to help make both visitors and workers alike feel at ease once they cross the threshold of the company's office.

Education Required

Most organisations prefer to hire candidates who possess at least a high school diploma or GED. Some companies may ask for candidates who have a college degree if the job in question has additional duties such as writing reports or working with numbers.

Employment Areas

Receptionists are employed in many different fields including medical, financial, educational and retail. A receptionist may work for a private doctor's office, insurance company, large college or beauty salon. The receptionist may work full time or fill in part-time when the client is busiest or the doctor has office hours. The receptionist typically has her own area of the office with a desk, phone and computer.


In general the duties of a receptionist can be divided into two different types. A receptionist is responsible for greeting people as they walk into the office. A receptionist will also answer any question the visitor will have and may hand out applicants for employment in the organisation and accept resumes upon request. A receptionist will also direct visitors to a specific office or let the visitor know that the employee is absent. Most receptions also perform additional duties including answering the phone and collecting mail. A receptionist may also have specific duties related to her employer. If the receptionist is employed by a medical office she may be responsible for scheduling appointments, collecting a patient's personal insurance information and contacting patients should a doctor cancel an appointment.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wages of receptionists was £7.60 as of May 2008. Salary varies depending upon factors such as the location of the office, the type of employer and any additional duties expected of the receptionist. According to the same source higher wages were earned by those employed in a medical related field such as a doctor's office.

Additional Considerations

A job as a receptionist can be a stepping stone for promotion to other positions within an organisation. A receptionist who meets important goals such as showing up on time, working well with clients and helping others can often apply for other jobs that she is qualified for such as editor or graphic designer. The receptionist may have a background in writing or art that is equally value to the organisation in question.

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