What Are Typical Receptionist Duties?

Research what it takes to become a receptionist. Learn about job duties, key skills, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Receptionist?

Receptionists are responsible for performing administrative duties for businesses and organizations, including answering phones, forwarding calls and taking messages. They greet guests, advise staff of their arrival and ensure that they are directed to the appropriate location or person. Other job duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining files and handling correspondence. As a receptionist, you will need to be well-organized and have good communication and customer service skills, as well as some computer skills.

The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a receptionist.

Degree Required High school diploma
Training Required Computer skills are preferred, including knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet programs
Key Skills Good communication skills; customer service skills; organizational skills; discretion to protect personal or private information
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% increase (for receptionists and information clerks)*
Median Salary (2015) $27,300 (for receptionists and information clerks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Main Responsibilities of a Receptionist?

When you work as a receptionist, your primary duties are to answer calls and perform administrative duties for an organization. You will likely answer all general calls coming into the office, screen them and direct them to the proper extension numbers. To carry out this task, you need to be well-versed in the workings of your office. Frequently, callers ask simple or often-asked questions about the organization, and as a receptionist you can deal with these quite efficiently by becoming knowledgeable about the company. You might also be responsible for taking messages from callers. In many offices, the phone systems can be quite complicated, involving multiple lines, extensions and other functions. As technology improves, some of these functions may be moved to the computer, but the same basic tasks remain for you as the receptionist.

What Other Tasks Are Important?

Depending upon your employer and the size of the office in which you work, you may be responsible for a variety of other duties. In both small and large offices, you are likely responsible for greeting visitors and clients or anyone else who enters the premises. You also determine the amount of access a visitor gets to the rest of the office, and thus, can enhance company security. As a receptionist you might also keep appointment logs, which can tell you who to admit into the office and where to direct them.

In many offices, you might be responsible for staying in close contact with building security for help in evicting unwelcome visitors. You could likely also sort incoming mail and post outgoing mail. You generally have to sign for deliveries and send packages out promptly. In smaller offices, you might deliver mail and packages to their recipients, and keep track of inventory. Filing, ordering office supplies, making travel arrangements and performing bookkeeping functions are other tasks you might be responsible for as a receptionist.

What Office Technology Might I Use?

As a receptionist, you must have decent working knowledge of personal computers and the various applications in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This should enable you to type correspondence utilizing word processing programs and to create spreadsheet presentations. Receptionists receive and deliver incoming faxes and send outgoing faxes for office staff. You may answer e-mails, work with calculators and check answering machines for messages. Performing Internet research and making copies on large copy machines are other possible job duties.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Two other careers that require only a high school diploma are those of information clerks and secretaries. Secretaries are clerical workers who perform similar tasks to receptionists, such as scheduling appointments, managing files and correspondence and performing support services for other office workers. Information clerks are responsible for maintaining records and collecting data in industries such as healthcare and hospitality.

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