Doctor's Office Receptionist: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a doctor's office receptionist. Learn about salary, employment outlook and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Office Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Doctor's Office Receptionist?

Doctor's office receptionists may also be called medical secretaries or medical office assistants. These professionals perform clerical duties, such as answering phones, updating calendars and appointments, preparing and editing reports, managing databases and medical records, bookkeeping, and handling mail and insurance payments. They may also document patient medical histories and arrange hospitalizations. Medical secretaries must have knowledge of medical terminology and facility procedures. In most positions, training is completed on the job. Learn more about this career below.

Training Requirements High school diploma/on-the-job training; postsecondary certificate programs are also available
Key Skills Organization, communication, problem-solving, writing
Job Growth (2014-2024) 21% (for all medical secretaries)*
Median Salary (2015) $33,040 (for all medical secretaries)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Become a Doctor's Office Receptionist?

A doctor's office receptionist is also referred to as a medical office assistant. The best way to become an assistant is to earn a college certificate or associate degree in medical office assistance. Generally, the only prerequisite for this program is a GED or a high school diploma.

In certificate or degree programs, you will gain hands-on practice working with computer programs you may use in the office for data entry and scheduling. You will learn medical terminology, anatomy, keyboarding basics, medical transcription, medical coding, billing and correspondence. You may also need to know budgeting and accounting. Programs will update any clerical skills you may already have and teach you new skills for working in a medical office. You will also learn communication skills, since working as a doctor's office receptionist requires a lot of patient contact and working with doctors and co-workers. You must be able to communicate effectively and respectfully. Studying ethics in medicine may also be covered.

What Will My Daily Tasks Be?

You will be the primary contact between doctors and patients. You will make and receive phone calls, handle scheduling, lookup phone numbers and other offices for referrals, handle patient records and enter data into the computer. You will work primarily with electronic records, so computer knowledge is a must.

Working with a variety of patients will put your communication skills to the test. Therefore you must understand different cultures and social classes. In a medical office you will most likely be handling insurance information, calling about coverage and dealing with payments. Also, if you work in a hospital you may direct patients to the correct waiting room or department that they need to go to.

How Much Can I Earn?

In 2015, the median salary for medical secretaries was $33,040 ( The five top-paying areas for medical secretaries were the District of Columbia, Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut (

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers include general office clerks, receptionists and medical transcriptionists. General office clerks perform many of the same duties as medical secretaries, with the exception of hospital-specific tasks, like filing and document preparation. Receptionists do the same, in addition to providing information to visitors about the area in which they work. Both of these professions require only a high school diploma. Medical transcriptionists need a postsecondary nondegree award; they convert audio recordings from physicians to text for documentation.

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