If you like meeting people and enjoy having a varied day, this job could be perfect for you. Receptionists are the first point of contact for an organisation. They work in all kinds of locations, including businesses, hotels, schools, hospitals and sports centres.
You may not need any formal qualifications to start work as a receptionist. However, some employers will prefer you to have GCSEs, particularly in English and maths. IT skills will also be useful.
To become a receptionist, you will need to have a friendly and confident personality. You’ll also need good spoken and written communication skills. Sometimes you’ll need to be polite but firm when dealing with difficult people.
• greeting visitors and directing them to the correct person or department
• managing the visitors book and giving out security passes
• answering enquiries in person, by phone and on email
• providing or sending out information
• managing a booking system
• providing refreshments
• keeping the reception area tidy.
As a medical or dental receptionist you would often arrange appointments and take payments for treatments.
You will find job opportunities at a wide range of places including hotels, factories, hospitals, GP and dentist surgeries, offices, solicitors, schools and hairdressers. Competition for vacancies can be strong.
Jobs are often advertised in the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices and on Jobcentre Plus job search. You can also check recruitment agencies that specialise in reception, admin and secretarial work.
You will have the best chances for promotion in larger organisations. With experience, you may be able to move on to a supervisory role. You may also move into related areas such as human resources and administration.
You may not need any formal qualifications to start work as a receptionist, although some employers will prefer you to have GCSEs, particularly in English and maths. IT skills like word processing, and the ability to use the internet and email may also be helpful.
Good customer care skills and an excellent telephone manner could also give you an advantage when looking for work.
If you plan to work in an organisation that deals with overseas visitors and clients, some ability in foreign languages may prove useful.
Temporary work (temping) can be a good way of getting experience and can often lead to a permanent job.
You could prepare for reception work by taking a full-time or part-time college course, which would give you some of the skills and knowledge employers look for.
Training and development
You will usually receive on-the-job training from your employer. You may also be encouraged to take a course in general reception duties, or in a more specialised area, for example medical or hotel reception work.
Qualifications you might work towards, depending on your job, include:
• Level 2 Award in Salon Reception Duties
• Level 2 (NVQ) Diploma in Front of House Reception
• Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Reception and Front Office Services.
If your job combines reception work with other duties, your employer may offer you training in areas such as customer service or office administration.
If you are working as a healthcare receptionist, you can take a range of qualifications awarded by the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR). These include:
• Level 2 Award in Medical Terminology
• Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Medical Administration.
With experience and appropriate qualifications, you could take on more responsibility, for example team leading (in larger organisations), admin support or PA work.
Receptionists can earn between £11,500 and £19,000 a year.