How to become a receptionist

Are you a friendly, helpful, well-presented person? Then you could consider a career as a receptionist. The receptionist is often the first person customers come into contact with at an organisation. From this point of view, you are the “face” of operations. People will often form their initial opinion based on their interactions with you. This means it is important to be friendly and professional at all times. You meet people arriving at the company building, giving them directions, and answer questions if needed. As well as meeting arriving clients, you take incoming phone calls, forwarding the calls to the appropriate staff member’s. You will usually have some general administrative tasks to do as well. But your main focus is as the help point for members of the public and staff members.

If you would enjoy a front facing job, interacting with people on a daily basis then the role of a receptionist could suit you perfectly. Keep reading to discover how to become a receptionist in four practical steps.

Step one: Choose a Course

You don’t have to pursue qualifications to work as a receptionist. However, taking a course before you look for work can demonstrate to employers your commitment to the role. Not to mention the course will teach you the skills you need to succeed in the role. Experts project job opportunities will grow over the next five years. Making right now a good time to get started on the path to becoming a receptionist.  

Step two: Apply for your first Job

After finishing your course you can begin to look for opportunities. When applying for your first job remember to tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. Don’t forget to make sure you highlight your newly gained qualifications, your personal strengths and any relevant experience you have.

Step three: Gain experience

So you landed your first job, well done! Now it is time to settle into your new role and build up your experience. The experience you gain as a receptionist can give you some unique insights into the operations of the business you work for. This makes the role a good starting point for career progression. 

Step four: Consider a specialisation

Over time you will build up your experience and skills, and then it may be time to consider a specialisation. Receptionists can transfer their skills to a number of different roles here are three ideas to consider.

Medical Receptionist

In the role of a medical receptionist, you will work in a doctor surgery or a hospital. You will help staff and patients with appointments. Carry out patient data entry tasks. Complete forms and some other related administrative tasks. Before being able to move into this role you will need to build up knowledge of the medical environment and the processes involved. This can be done with a tailored course, or an entry-level role.

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants work in an office. Where they support staff members with the companies daily administration tasks. You take responsibility for a wide range of tasks such as filing, sorting incoming/ outgoing mail, writing e-mails, and writing correspondence. A busy role you will never have a dull day.

Word Processing Operator

As a word processing operator, you shift the focus from people to the written word. You use Microsoft Word and other software programmes to check the formatting for company documents. You proofread said documents and ensure they issue with top-notch quality. In addition, you file physical and digital copies of drafts and finalised documents using the companies system.

Receptionist Job Description

As the first point of contact for clients arriving on the premises, you assist people by given them directions and answer enquiries. You maintain a friendly, welcoming, professional attitude at all times. The duties you take responsibility for vary greatly so you need to be ready to multitask throughout the day. You take phone calls and direct them to other staff members, or handle the enquiry yourself. Administration tasks play a part in your day as well, you could carry out data entry tasks, sort incoming/ outgoing post, and issue staff bulletins.


  • Meeting people who arrive at the company building, directing them and answering their queries
  • Answering incoming phone calls, forwarding to the appropriate staff member or taking messages
  • Carrying out general data entry and administration tasks
  • Issuing staff bulletins or updates

Skills for Success

As a receptionist, you should have remarkable communication skills. You need to listen, and help while remaining polite, cool and collected at all times. You are representing the company you work for on a daily basis, so it is very important to maintain your professionalism. If you are good at multitasking you have good potential as a receptionist. Let’s imagine, the phone is ringing on two lines. You have a client at the desk asking questions which need a long time to respond to. At the same time, a delivery has arrived which you need to direct to the appropriate place. Can you handle all these demands while remaining cheerful, calm, polite and friendly? Finally, receptionists work at the front desk and don’t have a supervisor to hand at all times. You need to work independently, then, use your initiative to handle situations as they arise.

Skills and attributes

  • Polite and well-mannered at all times
  • A helpful can-do attitude
  • Friendly approachable demeanour
  • Able to multitask
  • Can work without supervision
  • Use initiative to resolve situations as they arise

How much do receptionists earn in Australia?

In Australia, receptionists earn a median wage of $40,223 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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