What does a receptionist do?

Receptionists are the first point of contact for clients and customers, whether in-person or over the phone. They perform administrative tasks such as:

  • - Answering phones
  • - Taking messages
  • - Transferring calls
  • - Scheduling appointments
  • - Welcoming clients

This is a fast-paced role that requires excellent communication and organization skills, attention to detail, and the ability to calmly manage multiple tasks in one day, which is why receptionists are found in a variety of industries.


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What is the average salary of a receptionist?

The average receptionist salary in the USA is $28,497 per year, or $14.61 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $24,375 per year, while most experienced workers earn $36,572 per year. Receptionist salaries vary drastically based on various factors.


Geographic location is also a contributing factor to their salary. Receptionists working in New York City earn an amount at the higher end of the receptionist pay spectrum at more than $34,000 per year, while those working in Texas receive an average annual income of $29,000.


A receptionist's experience level in the field is crucial for earning potential. Those who have been working for two or three years earn between $25,000 and $30,000 per year. As one becomes more experienced, earnings increase dramatically. A seasoned receptionist typically earns an average annual salary of nearly $36,000.


What industries hire receptionists?

The type of field in which the receptionist is employed will affect their salary. For example, receptionists working in the legal field often earn significantly more than those working in hospitals or other medical facilities.

The medical field

This is one of the most common careers for those with a background in receptionist work. As a medical receptionist, you're responsible for welcoming patients and guests. You handle all incoming calls, billing questions, patient records, and other tasks necessary to maintain a successful medical practice.

Law offices

Law firms often hire several receptionists to handle their large volume of paperwork. As a legal receptionist, you're expected to keep updated files on clients while answering phones and welcoming clients as they come into the office.


Some entrepreneurs need help running an office, taking phone calls, and meeting clients when they arrive at an office space. In this way, small business owners benefit from hiring a receptionist to maintain their small business operations. 


Receptionists in the hotel industry perform many of the same tasks as receptionists in other industries. They also play a crucial role in providing information about the hotel and its facilities to guests.


Schools use receptionists to answer phones and direct visitors. They're also responsible for welcoming students and parents as they arrive at school. A receptionist's responsibilities in a school setting vary depending on whether they work at an elementary, middle, or high school.

Real estate

Receptionists answer phones, set up appointments and perform other administrative tasks for real estate agents.


Banks have many client-facing roles, from tellers to personal bankers, and they need someone to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. Receptionists in banks help schedule appointments, coordinate events, and more.


Working as a receptionist

Working as a receptionist is an excellent way to get your foot in the door of an organization. It offers opportunities to learn new skills, advance your career, expand your network, and meet interesting people.

What are the responsibilities of a receptionist?

A receptionist is an employee taking an office or administrative support position. The work is usually performed in an entry or waiting area such as a lobby or front office desk of an organization or business. The roles and responsibilities of a receptionist vary depending on the size of the company or department. However, there are certain duties that every receptionist must fulfill to be successful in their role. 

Manage the office's calendar and schedule meetings

Receptionists work in an office environment where they are responsible for overseeing appointments, booking meeting rooms, and managing schedules. As a receptionist, you're also responsible for arranging catering or technical equipment for meetings. You'll have access to calendars that detail the activities of managers, executives, and other important business personnel.

Answering the phone

Answering the phone is one of a receptionist’s most important duties. When answering calls, you must be aware of who the caller is and what they need, then direct them to the correct department or person as appropriate.

Greeting clients/visitors

A receptionist's job is to greet visitors, clients, and customers warmly and professionally. This first impression informs how the client sees your business in general, so this aspect of the role is essential.

Security duties

It's the receptionist's responsibility to keep an eye on who comes into a building. You also ensure that only authorized personnel are allowed access to certain areas. While you are not expected to perform security duties, you may need to communicate any security needs to the proper authority.

Mailroom clerk

As a receptionist, you're responsible for receiving delivery packages from courier services. If your company does not have a mailroom clerk, you might also sort them according to their destination or department and deliver them.

What is the work environment of a receptionist?

Receptionists typically work in an office setting. Some are required to travel with their employer or attend meetings at other companies or organizations. As a receptionist, you're expected to sit for long periods, using a desk and phone. A small percentage of receptionists work from home as independent contractors for companies that need assistance with answering services or appointment scheduling.

Who are your colleagues as a receptionist?

There are many people who you work closely with as a receptionist. Some of them include:

  • Supervisor - The supervisor is the person who assigns duties to you and checks on your performance to ensure that you're doing your job well.
  • Customers or clients - As a receptionist, you need to ensure that you adequately attend to every client or customer that visits your office.
  • Security personnel - The role of security personnel is to ensure that no unwanted person enters the office premises. However, they also have the duty of helping out on the office premises by offering their services when needed by the receptionist.
  • Business associates - In some companies, employees are mostly left alone to handle some issues themselves. However, you're likely to work closely with them daily.
  • Cleaning staff - Since there is a need for constant cleanliness in your office, these individuals help ensure that everything is always clean around your workplace.

What is the work schedule of a receptionist?

A receptionist’s schedule varies from one business to another. Typically, you will work an 8 am - 5 pm schedule. Some work part-time while others work full-time. Hours are long and irregular in specific workplaces and industries; some receptionists work evenings and weekends to accommodate the hours of their employers.


What is the career outlook for a receptionist?

Employment for receptionists is projected to grow 4% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave their jobs for other occupations or leave the labor force altogether. Employment growth also will occur due to an increase in demand for professional services. The career outlook for receptionists grew moderately over the past five years and is likely to reach 179,600 receptionist jobs by 2025. 

Additionally, the receptionist career path is one of the most common starting points for newcomers to the office world. Many people learn the hard and soft skills (typing, organization, software programs, interpersonal communication) required to be a successful receptionist at their first job and carry them forward in their careers.

There are many positions that build on the skills you'll learn as a receptionist. Some of these positions include:

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a receptionist?

Spherion offers the flexibility of interviewing with a database of potential employers. Our pooled company database means you can drastically reduce the amount of effort you need to explore all of your job options. With a direct contact at the agency, your questions and concerns always get answered. Spherion also provides training to prepare you for local jobs.

Working with Spherion means you get more than just a job. You get the support and resources to advance your career, improve your work-life balance, and achieve your goals. Here are some of additional benefits to expect:

  • Weekly payments
  • A contact person who is always there for you and responds to any questions or concerns
  • A range of different jobs in your area
  • Training opportunities

What education and skills do you need as a receptionist?


You'll need at least a high school diploma to become a receptionist. You don't technically need a degree to be a receptionist, but having one can help you land the job. bachelor's degrees are most commonly desired, though some employers will accept an associate’s degree. The two most common bachelor's degrees for the position are business administration and communications.

Communications degrees tend to focus on public relations and marketing, which are beneficial to companies hoping to improve their image. A business administration degree gives you an advantage over other candidates with only a high school diploma or an associate degree. 

You must be computer literate and familiar with many software programs used for office operations, such as spreadsheets, word processing, and databases.

Skills and competencies

This position often requires the person to be a jack of all trades and do many different things at once. Requirements for this job are often a combination of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills for receptionists include:

  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Word and Excel
  • Basic bookkeeping or accounting knowledge

Soft skills for receptionists include:

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • The ability to resolve conflict with customers or employees
  • The ability to multitask (talk on the phone, greet people, type, etc.)
  • Working well under pressure
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills


Receptionists are key administrative staff members in many organizations. Below, we answer essential questions about how to become a receptionist.

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