what is a receptionist?

A receptionist is an essential employee for many types of organizations 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 mostly relate to customer service, they often handle administrative tasks. Some receptionists assist with setting appointments, filing records and sorting mail.

Depending on the business, your role as a receptionist can vary a lot. Sometimes, you are responsible for cleaning and tidying a reception area or providing beverages to guests. Some receptionists also handle money or accept payments and manage the company's bookkeeping.

Most people think of a receptionist as someone working in an office building. While most receptionists are employed in offices, they also work in other industries. You'll find this position at any workplace that needs someone to coordinate interactions between customers and employees. For example, some receptionists work in law firms, receiving new clients and assisting visitors with their appointments. In hospitals, they direct patients to the correct treatment areas and organize their medical records. Receptionists also work at the front desks of hotels and manufacturing companies to welcome visitors.

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

receptionist jobs

average receptionist salary

According to Job Bank, receptionists earn a median salary of $33,903 per year — or an hourly rate of $17.39. Entry-level receptionist jobs attract a salary of $29,250 yearly, whereas high-paying receptionist jobs have salaries as high as $42,900 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a receptionist?

The salary of a receptionist depends on the organization they work for. When you work for a big company, you perform complex tasks or additional duties that warrant a higher salary. Besides, large companies have more resources and can afford to pay higher salaries. Small businesses may not have the resources to pay competitive salaries.

Working in large cities also increases your earning potential. The high demand for receptionists and the increased cost of living results in higher salaries. Improving your skills and educational qualifications also influences your earnings. For instance, receptionists with a few years of work experience take home higher salaries than entry-level receptionists.

download our salary guide

types of receptionists

While receptionists are not divided into strict categories, there are various 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, such as screening calls or handling mail. You also write staff memos for the executives 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 various administrative tasks, including the tracking of holidays or sick leave days, filing paperwork for new starters and planning travel itineraries for employees.
receptionist jobs
receptionist jobs

working as a receptionist

Are you interested in becoming a receptionist? Check out the duties and responsibilities of receptionists.


receptionist skills and education

Some of the requirements for becoming a receptionist in Canada include:

  • completion of secondary school: the minimum educational requirement for a receptionist is a high school diploma. However, you can boost your chances with courses in administration or arts and secretarial studies. Most employers provide on-the-job training to help you use the organization's computer systems.
  • work experience: while a receptionist is an entry-level job, some companies require experience working in administrative roles. You can gain experience through internship opportunities, entry-level jobs and volunteer work. Aside from gaining work experience, check if you need a certification. In Quebec, being a reception clerk in the tourism industry is a regulated career, which means you require certification from the regulatory authority.

competencies and characteristics of receptionists

Some of the skills necessary for receptionists include:

  • effective communication: as a receptionist, you need exceptional verbal communication skills. It is important to 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 should 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 prioritize 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 to execute your clerical duties.
  • organization skills: as a receptionist, being highly organized ensures the reception area is neat. You want to create a good impression for clients walking in, so organizing your desk is important. Planning your tasks is also useful for keeping up with deadlines and work schedules.

FAQs about receptionist jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a receptionist.


meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.