Receptionists can have many and varied roles in business. Depending on the type of office they are employed in, receptionists may find themselves carrying out duties that are more specialized. Because of the variety of different fields in which a receptionist may be employed, they may be called on to learn new skills at each job.
The work of a receptionist may be repetitive and frustrating, such as answering phone calls all day. It takes a lot of patience and good humor to consistently come acros to callers as friendly and helpful. A calm person who enjoys meeting the public and doing customer service work should be able to do well in this capacity.
The salary of a receptionist is usually estimated on an hourly basis. Currently, there is a range in salaries from $8.00 to $17.00 per hour, depending upon the type of work and the experience of the individual. Offices of health practitioners, which employee many receptionists in this country, pay a median wage of approximately $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Because of the many possible duties that receptionists may be called on to perform, it is crucial that these workers be versatile and enjoy learning. Often receptionists are called on to fill in for other employees who are absent from work that day or to help out with large tasks that require an extra set of hands. Receptionist jobs are often part-time, which make them convenient for workers who have other responsibilities or can only work during certain hours.
Receptionists may be called on to fax, make copies, open and sort incoming mail, accept packages and deliveries, and take phone messages. They can work at a front desk and greet visitors to the office environment, answer and screen calls, do typing and data entry, make appointments, deal with difficult or irate customers, and act as a gatekeeper for the executives of a company. Other tasks may involve making travel arrangements, updating calendars, do filing, internet searches, make coffee and take general care of the office.
It is important for the receptionist to have a good working knowledge of their employer’s business. As the first person most visitors see upon arrival, the receptionist becomes the “face” of the company. They must have interpersonal skills, and be able to anticipate needs and make their guests feel comfortable. Receptionists also may have to be an interface with the security force in a building and be able to deal with problems and emergencies by contacting the appropriate security personnel.
As the receptionist is on the “front line” in an office, personal appearance and grooming are very important. Having good manners and a polite nature is a definite requirement of this job. Listening carefully, taking notes if necessary, and asking questions to get important information will help their employers in the everyday course of business.
A receptionist may work in a large office building for a corporation, or in a small business environment. Medical and law offices, accountants, realtors, non-profits, salons, religious organizations, retail firms and many other businesses need receptionists to greet clients and handle other important tasks. Receptionists in nursing homes and healthcare centers are common, and can be of great assistance to visitors who may be anxious or unwell. They may provide a customer service role as well as that of a friendly and welcoming face and voice.
A newer type of job that receptionists may have is working for a virtual office. These are off-site positions which involve answering calls for clients using specialized software which is integrated into the phone system. They can then forward calls to clients, take messages, send emails and fax to remote locations, and make appointments. This type of position involves the receptionist to work for several different companies at once, and understand the particular needs of each. The receptionist answers each call as if they were present in the office of their client, which avoids customers being frustrated by voicemails and slow response times.
The outlook for receptionist jobs is good. Healthcare offices in particular offer a growing number of positions for this job description, and businesses specializing in the “virtual office” niche are growing rapidly. Experienced receptionists are in demand as the varied number of potential employers seek those knowledgeable individuals who are ready to start a new job with little training necessary.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Educational Requirements
Usually, the educational requirement for a receptionist is a high school diploma. Because the job at each company can vary so much, much of the training of a new employee in a receptionist function is done on the job. Getting to know the staff, understanding the business, phone protocol and procedures are specific to each employer.
However, the receptionist may be expected to know how to fax, make copies, work with complex phone systems, type and do word processing. They should also have a working understanding of how to access the internet and use different types of software. Clerical experience may also be required for new applicants.