Receptionists and Information Clerks
- Good interpersonal skills are critical.
- A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common
- Employment is expected to grow faster than average.
Receptionists and information clerks are charged with a responsibility
that may have a lasting impact on the success of an organization:
making a good first impression. These workers often are the first
representatives of an organization that a visitor may encounter,
so good interpersonal skills—being courteous, professional, and
helpful—are critical. Receptionists answer telephones, route and
screen calls, greet visitors, respond to inquiries from the public,
and provide information about the organization. Some receptionists
are responsible for the coordination of all mail into and out
of the office. In addition, receptionists contribute to the security
of an organization by helping to monitor the access of visitors—a
function that has become increasingly important since the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, heightened security concerns.
Whereas some tasks are common to most receptionists and information
clerks, the specific responsibilities of receptionists vary with
the type of establishment in which they work. For example, receptionists
in hospitals and in doctors’ offices may gather patients’ personal
and financial information and direct them to the proper waiting
rooms. In corporate headquarters, receptionists may greet visitors
and manage the scheduling of the board room or common conference
area. In beauty or hair salons, by contrast, receptionists arrange
appointments, direct customers to the hairstylist, and may serve
as cashiers. In factories, large corporations, and government
offices, they may provide identification cards and arrange for
escorts to take visitors to the proper office. Those working for
bus and train companies respond to inquiries about departures,
arrivals, stops, and other related matters.
Increasingly, receptionists use multiline telephone systems,
personal computers, and fax machines. Despite the widespread use
of automated answering systems or voice mail, many receptionists
still take messages and inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals
or cancellation of an appointment. When they are not busy with
callers, most receptionists are expected to perform a variety
of office duties, including opening and sorting mail, collecting
and distributing parcels, transmitting and delivering facsimiles,
updating appointment calendars, preparing travel vouchers, and
performing basic bookkeeping, word processing, and filing.
Receptionists who greet customers and visitors usually work in
areas that are highly visible and designed and furnished to make
a good impression. Most work stations are clean, well lighted,
and relatively quiet. The work performed by some receptionists
and information clerks may be tiring, repetitious, and stressful
as many receptionists spend all day answering continuously ringing
telephones and sometimes encounter difficult or irate callers.
The work environment, however, may be very friendly and motivating
for individuals who enjoy greeting customers face to face and
making them feel comfortable.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Although hiring requirements for receptionists and information
clerks vary by industry, a high school diploma or its equivalent
is the most common educational requirement. Good interpersonal
skills and being technologically proficient also are important
Receptionists and information clerks generally receive on-the-job
training. However, employers often look for applicants who already
possess certain skills, such as prior computer experience or answering
telephones. Some employers also may prefer some formal office
education or training. On the job, they learn how to operate the
telephone system and computers. They also learn the proper procedures
for greeting visitors and for distributing mail, faxes, and parcels.
Advancement for receptionists generally comes about either by
transferring to a more responsible occupation or by being promoted
to a supervisory position. Receptionists with especially strong
computer skills may advance to a better paying job as a secretary
or an administrative assistant.
Receptionists and information clerks held about 1.1 million jobs
in 2004. More than 90 percent worked in service-providing industries.
Among service-providing industries, healthcare and social assistance
industries—including doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes,
urgent-care centers, surgical centers, and clinics—employed about
one-third of all receptionists and information clerks. Manufacturing,
wholesale and retail trade, government, and real estate industries
also employed large numbers of receptionists and information clerks.
More than 3 of every 10 receptionists and information clerks worked
Employment of receptionists and information clerks is expected
to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014.
This increase will result from rapid growth in service-providing
industries—including physicians’ offices, law firms, temporary
help agencies, and consulting firms—where most are employed. In
addition, turnover in this large occupation will create numerous
openings as receptionists and information clerks transfer to other
occupations or leave the labor force altogether. Opportunities
should be best for persons with a wide range of clerical and technical
skills, particularly those with related work experience.
Technology will have conflicting effects on the demand for receptionists
and information clerks. The increasing use of voice mail and other
telephone automation reduces the need for receptionists by allowing
one receptionist to perform work that formerly required several.
However, the increasing use of other technology has caused a consolidation
of clerical responsibilities and growing demand for workers with
diverse clerical and technical skills. Because receptionists and
information clerks may perform a wide variety of clerical tasks,
they should continue to be in demand. Further, they perform many
tasks that are interpersonal in nature and are not easily automated,
ensuring continued demand for their services in a variety of establishments.
Median hourly earnings of receptionists and information clerks
in May 2004 were $10.50. The middle 50 percent earned between
$8.62 and $12.88. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.21,
and the highest 10 percent earned more than $15.53. Median hourly
earnings in the industries employing the largest number of receptionists
and information clerks in May 2004 are shown below.
|Offices of dentists
|General medical and surgical hospitals
|Offices of physicians
|Personal care services
In 2005, the Federal Government typically paid salaries ranging
from $22,937 to $27,818 a year to beginning receptionists with
a high school diploma or 6 months of experience. The average annual
salary for all receptionists employed by the Federal Government
was about $29,185 in 2005.
Receptionists deal with the public and often direct people to
others who can assist them. Other workers who perform similar
duties include dispatchers, secretaries and administrative assistants,
and customer service representatives.
|Sources of Additional Information
State employment offices can provide information on job openings
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition