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Receptionist Duties and Responsibilities

A receptionist's duties can vary based on their specific office, but based on postings that we analyzed, this role has several core duties in any organization:

Greet and direct visitors One of the primary responsibilities of a receptionist is to welcome visitors to the office. The receptionist greets clients and other visitors and may offer them refreshments or a seat if they are waiting for an appointment. Receptionists may also direct these visitors to meeting rooms or offices. In this aspect of the role, a receptionist also checks the office calendar for appointments, maintains visitor records, and may issue visitor badges.

Answer phone calls and emails Receptionists also manage incoming phone calls and emails. They may use a switchboard or a multi-line phone, transferring calls to specific individuals or departments as well as directly answering client or customer questions. In some offices, the receptionist also handles incoming email to the office's general address, responding to questions or forwarding emails to departments that can provide client assistance.

Manage personnel schedules Receptionists also manage internal schedules and calendars for the organization and its personnel. This can include adding events and meetings to shared calendars, updating event information, and recording appointments and time off. In some organizations, the receptionist also distributes schedule information to specific departments and monitors deadlines for various business or organizational tasks.

Make travel arrangements A receptionist's duties can also include making travel and transportation arrangements for employees. They may book flights, cars, and hotels for employees and managers traveling to client sites, conferences, and off-site meetings. This part of the job can also involve keeping records of travel expenses and providing reports to accounting and finance departments to assist with reimbursements and oversight.

Book meeting spaces and amenities Receptionists also book meeting spaces and make other arrangements related to client visits and meetings. The receptionist gathers information about the number of meeting participants and examines the calendar to find open meeting rooms that will accommodate the group at the time they would like to meet or changes meeting locations if necessary. The receptionist may also make arrangements for meals and refreshments for longer meetings.

Manage correspondence Finally, receptionists handle incoming and outgoing mail and correspondence. They sort the day's mail, usually handing it off to a clerk for delivery to the mailroom or placing mail directly in employees' mailboxes. Occasionally receptionists may type letters and other correspondence and ensure that mail is ready for pickup at a specific time of day.


Receptionist Skills and Qualifications

Receptionists balance administrative support and client-facing duties throughout the day. Companies tend to hire receptionists with at least a high school diploma and the following skills:
  • Interpersonal skills - because they greet and direct visitors and answer phone calls, receptionists need strong interpersonal and client service skills
  • Organization skills - receptionists need to be highly organized and able to manage schedules, appointments, and meetings for personnel throughout the office
  • Multitasking - because this role involves frequently switching between duties and responsibilities, receptionists need to be able to successfully multitask and set priorities
  • Problem-solving skills - in this role, receptionists frequently need to use their problem-solving skills to resolve client issues, manage office and meeting space, and balance conflicting employee needs
  • Communication skills - receptionists also need to be able to successfully communicate with internal personnel and office visitors and callers, so strong written and verbal communication skills are key

Receptionist Education and Training

While there are no formal education requirements for receptionists, most tend to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Many receptionists also have an associate or bachelor's degree in a business- or communications-related field. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as receptionists gain greater familiarity with their organization's practices and procedures. Highly skilled receptionists can also transition their skills and training into a more direct administrative support role, although many companies require administrative assistants to have a degree.

Receptionist Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), receptionists earned a median salary of $28,390 per year (or $13.65 per hour) as of May 2016. The lowest-earning 10 percent of receptionists earned an hourly rate of less than $9.65, while the highest-paid receptionists earned over $19.65 per hour. The BLS estimates that employment for receptionists will grow 10 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Helpful Resources

If you'd like to learn more about a career as a receptionist, we found several resources on the web for further reading and information:

"6 Attributes to Look for in a Great Receptionist" - Read about what top companies look for in applicants for receptionist positions.

Customer Service Training 101: Quick and Easy Techniques That Get Great Results

by Renee Evenson - This book examines best practices in providing excellent customer and client service. "7 Tips to Being A GREAT Receptionist While Getting Tasks Done" - This helpful article focuses on time management, balancing client service with administrative support, and prioritization for receptionists.

Beyond "Hello": A Practical Guide for Excellent Telephone Communication and Quality Customer Service

by Jeannie Davis and Pat Landaker - Read this book to learn how to provide excellent client service and enhance your phone conversation skills.

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