How to become a Receptionist. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about Receptionist careers.
What does a Receptionist do?
Receptionists are the first point of contact for an organisation. They work in all kinds of settings, including businesses, schools, hospitals and sports centres.
As a receptionist, your day-to-day duties would include:
- greeting visitors and directing them to the correct person or department
- managing the visitors book and issuing security passes
- providing information and answering queries
- answering calls and taking messages
- dealing with phone enquiries
- providing refreshments
- keeping the reception area tidy
- organising reading material in the waiting area.
As a medical or dental receptionist you would often be involved in organising appointments and taking payments for treatments.
In smaller companies, or where the reception area is less busy, you could carry out a wider range of tasks, such as:
- answering switchboard enquiries
- responding to emails
- booking transport and travel
- basic clerical work
- handling cash
- simple bookkeeping.
Some large organisations and office buildings house several companies and your work in this setting could combine the duties of receptionist and security officer.
You would usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, some organisations may need cover on a Saturday morning or on a shift-basis. Part-time work is often available.
You would spend most of your time working alone, sitting at a desk or workstation in a reception area.
How much does a Receptionist earn?
Receptionists can earn between £16,500 and £23,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You may not need any qualifications to start work as a receptionist. However, some employers will prefer you to have GCSEs (A-C), particularly in English and maths. Admin, secretarial and IT skills will also be useful.
If you plan to work in an organisation that deals with visitors and clients from overseas, you may have an advantage if you also have knowledge of a foreign language.
Temporary work (temping) can be a good way of getting experience and can lead to a permanent job.
You may also be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You will usually receive on-the-job training from your employer. You may also be encouraged to attend a course in general reception duties or a more specialised area, for example, medical or hotel reception work.
You could work towards qualifications such as:
- NVQ levels 1 to 3 in Business and Administration
- NVQ levels 1 to 3 in Customer Service
- NVQ Level 2 in Providing Security Services (Reception Security).
The OCR (RSA) Examination Board also offers a range of qualifications covering administration skills and customer service.
If you are working as a receptionist in the healthcare field you can do a range of qualifications awarded by AMSPAR (the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists), such as:
- Intermediate Diploma in Medical Administration
- Certificate in Medical Terminology
- Certificate in Health Service Administration.
See the AMSPAR website for details.
If you work in hotel reception, you may help your career by working towards a BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Front Office Operations.
Skills and Knowledge
- an outgoing, confident and pleasant personality
- a smart appearance
- good spoken and written communication skills
- the ability to stay calm under pressure
- the ability to be courteous but firm when dealing with difficult, impatient or distressed people
- good organisational skills
- basic IT skills
- the ability to follow and enforce safety and security procedures
- the ability to use office equipment such as switchboards, fax machines and photocopiers
- an interest in the work of the organisation.
You will find job opportunities in a wide range of facilities including hotels, factories, hospitals, doctors, dentists, solicitors, schools and hairdressers. Competition for vacancies can be strong. Jobs are often advertised in the local press, through Jobcentre Plus offices and on Directgov (Jobseekers page).
- Directgov (Jobseekers page)
Your chances for promotion will be greatest in larger organisations, and with experience you may be able to progress to a supervisory role. You may also move into related areas such as human resources and administration.