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Receptionist Career Information and Job Description

Receptionist Career Information and Job Description

Receptionists and information clerks have a unique responsibility of making a good first impression, which can impact the success of the company for a long time. Typically they are the first line of employees that visitors interact with, so they must be friendly, professional, and helpful to the visitors. They are responsible for answering and routing calls, greeting visitors, handling inquiries from the public, and providing information related to the company. Select receptionists might be in charge of coordinating incoming and outgoing mail. They also fill a minor security role by monitoring access to the building by visitors.

Though many of duties of receptionists and information clerks are similar, their exact duties differ depending on the type of company they are employed by. For instance, those employed by hospitals or doctors must collect patient information and deal with financial collections as well as usher them to the appropriate waiting area. Others working in beauty or hair salons might coordinate appointments, direct customers to waiting hairstylists, and act as cashiers. In larger facilities such as factories, businesses, and government offices receptionist might issue identification cards and coordinate escorting of visitors to the desired destination. Employees of bus and train services provide information related to departures, arrivals, stops, and associated inquiries.

Now more then ever receptionists are utilizing multi-line telephone systems, PC’s, and fax machines. In spite of the common utilization of automated answering systems or voice mail, a lot of receptionists still record messages and pass news of cancellations or visitor arrivals on to the appropriate employee. In between calls receptionists typically must take care of a number of office tasks, including receiving and sorting mail, collecting and distributing parcels, transmitting and delivering facsimiles, recording appointments on the calendar, preparing travel vouchers, and doing routine bookkeeping, word processing, and filing.

In 2002, receptionists and information clerks accounted for approximately 1.1 million jobs. Close to 90 percent were employed in service-providing industries. In the service providing industry, one out of every 3 receptionists and information clerks was employed in the health care and social assistance industries—including doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, urgent-care centers, surgical centers, and clinics. Many were also employed by the manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, government, and real-estate industries. Close to 30 percent of all receptionists and information clerks work part time.

Receptionist Training and Job Qualifications

Employment of receptionists and information clerks is projected to rise quicker that than the overall average through 2012. Rampant growth in the service industries where the majority work, particularly in physicians’ offices, law firms, temporary-help agencies, and consulting firms, will cause this increase. Additionally, the turnover rate in this large work force will mean many new jobs will become available as receptionists and information clerks move to new jobs or depart from the work force. The best prospects will exist for those possessing an array of clerical and technical talents, especially for those who have work experience.

Technology will likely have conflicting results on the need for receptionists and information clerks. Voice mail and other telephone automation helps decrease the need for receptionists by enabling a single person to do the job previously done by a few. As technology is used more and more in this occupation, companies look to consolidate clerical responsibilities and thus there now exists a stronger demand for those with broad array of clerical and technical abilities. Demand should remain stable for receptionists and information clerks as they perform numerous necessary tasks. Additionally, they do some select duties that cannot be automated, as they are interpersonal in nature, thus they provide a value that will be needed by many different companies.