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What Receptionists Do About this section

Receptionists greet patients in hospitals and doctors' offices.

Receptionists do administrative tasks, such as answering phones, greeting visitors, and providing general information about their organization.


Receptionists typically do the following:

  • Answer the telephone and take messages or forward calls
  • Schedule and confirm appointments and maintain calendars
  • Greet customers, clients, and other visitors
  • Check in visitors and direct or escort them to their destinations
  • Inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellations
  • Enter customer information into the organization's database
  • Copy, file, and maintain paper or electronic documents
  • Handle incoming and outgoing correspondence

Receptionists are often the first employee of an organization to have contact with a customer or client. They are responsible for making a good first impression for the organization.

Receptionists’ specific responsibilities vary by employer. For example, receptionists in hospitals and doctors’ offices may collect patients’ personal information and direct patients to the waiting room. Some handle billing and insurance payments.

In large corporations and government offices, receptionists may have a security role. For example, they may control access to the organization by issuing visitor passes and escorting visitors to their destination.

Receptionists use telephones, computers, and other office equipment, such as shredders and printers.

Work Environment About this section

Receptionists are employed in virtually every industry.

Receptionists held about 1.0 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of receptionists were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance 46%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 12
Personal care services 7
Administrative and support services 4
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 3

Receptionists are employed in nearly every industry.

Receptionists usually work in areas that are visible and accessible to the public and other employees, such as the front desk of a lobby or waiting room.

Some receptionists face stressful situations. They may have to answer numerous phone calls or deal with difficult visitors.

Work Schedules

Most receptionists work full time. Some receptionists, such as those who work in hospitals and nursing homes, work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Receptionist About this section

Receptionists need to be good at communicating with people.

Although hiring requirements vary by industry and employer, receptionists typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and good communication skills.


Receptionists typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, and employers may prefer to hire candidates who have experience with certain computer software. Proficiency in word processing and spreadsheet applications may be particularly helpful.


Most receptionists receive short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few days up to a month. Training typically covers procedures for greeting visitors, answering the telephone, and using the computer.


Receptionists may advance to other administrative occupations with more responsibilities, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Receptionists must speak and write clearly when providing information and corresponding with customers.

Computer skills. Receptionists should be adept at using computers.

Customer-service skills. Receptionists represent the organization, so they should be courteous, professional, and helpful to customers and the public.

Integrity. Receptionists may handle confidential data, especially in medical and legal offices. They must be trustworthy and protect clients’ privacy.

Interpersonal skills. Receptionists should be comfortable interacting with people in different types of situations.

Organizational skills. Receptionists take messages, schedule appointments, and maintain employee files. They need good organizational skills to manage their diverse responsibilities.

Pay About this section


Median hourly wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations


Information and record clerks


Receptionists and information clerks



The median hourly wage for receptionists was $14.40 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.08, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.00.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for receptionists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance $16.44
Professional, scientific, and technical services 14.62
Administrative and support services 14.43
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 14.26
Personal care services 13.72

Most receptionists work full time. Receptionists who work in hospitals and nursing homes may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section


Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Total, all occupations


Receptionists and information clerks


Information and record clerks



Employment of receptionists is projected to show little or no change from 2021 to 2031.

Despite limited employment growth, about 142,300 openings for receptionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Growing healthcare industries are projected to lead demand for receptionists, particularly in the offices of physicians, dentists, and other healthcare practitioners.

Employment growth of receptionists in other industries is expected to be slower as organizations continue to automate or consolidate administrative functions. For example, many organizations use computer software, websites, mobile applications, or other technology to interact with the public or customers.

Employment projections data for receptionists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Receptionists and information clerks

43-4171 1,037,100 1,041,400 0 4,300 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about training for receptionists and those in other administrative careers, visit

American Society of Administrative Professionals


Receptionists and Information Clerks


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