what is a receptionist?

A receptionist is an essential employee for many types of organisations and businesses. As the name implies, a receptionist receives visitors. You greet people who enter the building or handle phone calls and emails for the company. Although receptionists' workloads are mostly related to customer service, they often handle a wide variety of administrative tasks. Some receptionists assist with setting appointments, filing records and sorting mail.

what do receptionists do?

Your role as a receptionist can vary a lot depending on the business. In some cases, you are responsible for cleaning and tidying a reception area or providing beverages to guests. Some receptionists also handle money. They accept payments or manage bookkeeping for the company.

When most people think of receptionists, they picture a person working in an office building. While it is true that the majority of receptionists are employed in offices, they also work in other industries. You'll find this position at any workplace that needs someone coordinating interactions between customers and employees. For example, some receptionists work in law firms receiving new clients and directing visitors to their appointments. In hospitals, they direct patients to the right treatment areas and organise their medical records. Receptionists also work in hotels or manufacturing companies at the front desk to welcome visitors.

Would working as a receptionist suit your social skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a receptionist role.

receptionist jobs

average salary of a receptionist

The median salary of a receptionist according to National Careers is £15,000 per year for those with minimal experience. As you improve your skills, your salary can increase to £22,000 per year. Some employers pay receptionists hourly, with different rates for normal working hours and overtime hours.

When you are a full-time receptionist, your earnings include various allowances like medical and transport allowances. You will also enjoy paid holidays, annual bonuses and other awards based on your performance. Some companies also assist employees with payments to pension schemes.

what factors affect the salary of a receptionist?

The primary factor that affects your salary is the location. Receptionists in areas with high living costs tend to get a bigger salary. Top-paying regions for receptionists are Glasgow, London and Leeds. Variations in salary also depend on the scope of the role and additional responsibilities. 

Many entry-level receptionists primarily provide customer support on the phone. Some receptionists take on more of an administrative assistant role, leading to a higher salary. Receptionists who work in specialised fields get a higher salary. For instance, if you work in a hospital or law firm, your compensation package is higher than a receptionist for a retail firm. Generally, high-paying industries like finance provide higher salaries for receptionists.


Admin and clerical
Admin and clerical

types of receptionists

While receptionists are not divided into strict categories, there are several types of positions in this field. Some of the common receptionist jobs include:

  • front desk receptionist: your job is to monitor the front desk and direct visitors entering the office to their appointments. You also ensure the reception area is tidy, and you can add decorative touches to make it more welcoming.
  • corporate receptionist: your job is to assist executive assistants with repetitive tasks like screening calls and handling mail. You also write memos from the executives to staff and summarise reports from various departments.
  • hr receptionist: in a company with a dedicated HR department, you sit at the entrance of the department offices. You also perform administrative tasks like tracking holidays and sick leave, filing paperwork for new starters and planning employee travel.


working as a receptionist

Are you interested in learning more about the day-to-day realities of being a receptionist? Here are some of the things you might encounter.


education and skills

A receptionist role doesn't require formal education, and you need minimal work experience. For instance, if you have previous experience in sales or customer services, you can land a job as a receptionist. You can also join the career through a college qualification like a diploma or certificate course. For instance, you can pursue a certificate course in Level 1 or 2 business administration and reception courses. Alternatively, gain a Level 2 diploma course in hospitality or reception operation and services.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills necessary for receptionists include:

  • effective communication: as a receptionist, you should have exceptional verbal communication skills. You should speak calmly and professionally to all visitors. Active listening and customer service skills also help you excel in the role.
  • interpersonal skills: as a receptionist, you have to be a good team player. You interact and collaborate with various employees in the office. You need people skills to help everyone with their duties.
  • multitasking skills: a receptionist handles many duties like screening calls, managing call traffic and running a busy reception area. Multitasking skills help you to prioritise and ensure that you accomplish all tasks.
  • technical prowess: as a receptionist, your job involves maintaining office equipment and operating copiers, phone systems and printers. Technical skills will make your work easier and improve your performance. You also need computer skills for your clerical duties.



FAQs about working as a receptionist

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