What does a Receptionist do?

What is a Receptionist?

Receptionists perform various administrative tasks, including answering telephones and giving information to the public and customers. Most work in a comfortable office setting. About 30 percent work part time.

What does a Receptionist do?

Receptionists typically do the following:

  • Answer, screen, and forward telephone calls
  • Greet walk-in customers and other visitors and escort them to specific destinations
  • Contribute to the security of the office by helping to monitor visitors' access
  • Obtain or send information or documents using a computer, mail, or a fax machine
  • Perform other administrative support tasks, such as keeping appointment calendars
  • Copy, file, and maintain documents and records
  • Collect, sort, distribute, and prepare mail and courier deliveries
  • Process and prepare travel vouchers or other documents.

Receptionists are often the first employee that the public or customer has contact with. They are responsible for making a good first impression for the organization, which can affect the organization's success.

Although some tasks are common to most receptionists, their specific responsibilities vary depending on their work establishment. For example, receptionists in hospitals and in doctors' offices may gather patients' personal and insurance information and direct patients to the proper waiting room. In corporate headquarters, they may greet visitors and manage the scheduling of the board room or common conference area. In beauty or hair salons, they arrange appointments, direct clients to the hairstylist, and may serve as cashiers. In factories, large corporations, and government offices, receptionists may provide identification cards for visitors and arrange for escorts to take visitors to the proper office. Those working for bus and train companies respond to passengers’ inquiries about departures, arrivals, stops, and other related matters.

Receptionists use the telephone, computers, and other electronic devices. Despite the widespread use of voice mail or other automated systems, many receptionists still take messages and inform other employees of the public’s or customers’ arrivals or cancellations of appointments. When they are not busy with callers, most workers are expected to help other administrative employees by doing a variety of other office tasks.

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How to become a Receptionist

Receptionists generally need a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most receive their training on the job. They learn how to operate the telephone system and computers and learn the proper procedures for greeting visitors. While many of these skills can be learned quickly, those who give information to the public or customers may need several weeks to learn details about the organization.

Employers often look for applicants who know spreadsheets, word processing software, or other industry-specific software applications. Some employers may prefer applicants who have some formal office education or training.

What is the workplace of a Receptionist like?

Although receptionists work in almost every industry, many are concentrated in healthcare and social assistance, including physicians' offices, hospitals, and nursing homes. Receptionists who greet customers and visitors usually work in areas that are highly visible, clean, well-lit, and relatively quiet.

The work that some receptionists do may be tiring, repetitious, and stressful as they may spend all day answering continually ringing telephones and sometimes encounter difficult or irate callers.

Although most receptionists work full time, about 30% worked part time in 2010. Some receptionists, including those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, may have to work evenings and weekends.