Receptionist Careers

How to become Receptionist

What does a Receptionist do?

A receptionist’s main duty is to deal with members of the public, who could be clients, visitors or patients. They provide them with information, answer queries, and direct them to the person they need to see. Medical or dental receptionists also organise appointments and take bookings. They may need to keep the reception area tidy, organise reading material and provide refreshments. They should also be aware of the organisation's safety and security procedures, ensuring they are followed at all times.

In smaller companies, or where the reception area is less busy, it may be necessary to perform a wider range of tasks. They might need to answer the switchboard, take messages and deal with telephone enquiries, or do some basic clerical work. They might also be required to handle cash and do simple bookkeeping.

Some large organisations, and office buildings that house several companies, employ people to receive visitors and direct them to the right place. These posts often combine the duties of receptionist and security officer.

What's the working environment like working as a Receptionist?

Receptionists work standard office hours, usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In some jobs, they might work Saturday mornings or shifts. Part-time work is often available.

Most of the time is spent sitting at a desk or workstation in a comfortable reception area. Usually, a receptionist works alone.

What does it take to become a Receptionist?

To be a receptionist you should:

  • be outgoing and confident with a pleasant personality, and enjoy dealing with the public
  • have a smart appearance
  • have good communication skills, both spoken and written
  • be able to stay calm under pressure at busy times
  • be courteous, but firm, when dealing with difficult, impatient or distressed people
  • be efficient and well organised
  • be able to work on your own
  • have basic computer skills
  • be able to use office equipment such as switchboards, fax machines and photocopiers
  • be interested in the work of the organisation.
Having a working knowledge of a foreign language can be useful, especially if dealing with visitors from overseas.

Receptionist Career Opportunities

All types of organisations employ receptionists, for example, hotels, factories, hospitals, doctors, dentists, solicitors, schools and hairdressers. Competition for vacancies may be keen.

A good receptionist who is willing to acquire more qualifications and higher level skills may be promoted to a supervisory role. In practice there are few opportunities for promotion, although chances are better within larger organisations.

Many receptionists move into other areas of work in order to advance their careers.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Receptionist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Council for Administration (CfA)
6 Graphite Square
Vauxhall Walk
SE11 5EE
Tel: 020 7091 9620

AMSPAR, the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists
Tavistock House North
Tavistock Square
Tel: 020 7387 6005

OCR Information Bureau
Tel: 024 7685 1509