How to Become a Medical Receptionist in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a medical receptionist. Learn about the educational requirements, job outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.
Career Information At a Glance
Medical receptionists provide preliminary assistance for incoming patients. More detailed information can be found in the table below:
|Education Required||High school diploma or GED, certificate program (recommended)|
|Training Required||Work experience: medical office (recommended)|
|Key Skills||Communication, customer service, discretion, organization|
|Job Growth (2012-22)||36% (medical secretaries)*|
|Median Salary (2014)||$28,952**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale
What Is a Medical Receptionist?
A medical receptionist is a support worker who serves as the first point of contact between the public and a medical facility or medical office. Your duties as a medical receptionist would include greeting incoming patients and visitors, obtaining and verifying patient information, obtaining patient signatures and accepting payments. You also make appointments, take phone messages and assist with data entry and medical records management.
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
If you're willing to learn on the job, a high school diploma or GED is sufficient education for medical receptionists. According to O*Net Online, 54% of receptionists only have diplomas (www.onetonline.org). High school courses in biology, computers and English provide background technical knowledge you can apply to your receptionist duties.
Step 2: Volunteer in a Medical Office
Volunteering isn't necessary for employment, but employers will give you more favorable consideration if you have experience. You can observe operations in a medical office while improving your phone skills and learning to conduct yourself in a professional manner. A volunteer position could also lead to a full-time job at the same facility.
Step 3: Earn a Certificate
Formal training isn't essential either, but sometimes employers prefer to hire applicants who have it. Many community colleges and 4-year schools offer certificate programs tailored to medical reception work. A program teaches you how use business productivity applications, organize a medical office and perform assorted office duties. Course topics vary but may cover first aid and CPR, business communications, medical terminology and medical ethics.
Step 4: Obtain a Job
Hospitals, clinics, private physician's offices, medical labs and nursing homes are among the facilities where you could find work. Figures from O*Net Online show that approximately 526,000 people were employed as medical receptionists in 2012. Employment was projected to rise over 20% from 2012-2022, with an estimated 252,500 job openings becoming available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees strong need for receptionists among health care practitioners and personal care service providers (www.bls.gov). Payscale.com reported that as of December 2014, the middle 80% of medical receptionists earned annual salaries in the range of $20,100 - $39,548.
Step 5: Advance Your Career
Your career as a medical receptionist also has room for advancement. You could earn a medical assisting associate's degree and become a medical assistant, or you could earn an associate's degree in medical administrative assisting and become an administrative assistant. If you previously earned a certificate, you can apply your credits toward either degree. With enough experience and education, you could be promoted to office manager or supervisor.