Receptionist: Job Profile and Role

As a visitor to various restaurants, hotels, and healthcare institutions, you have already made the acquaintance of the first person you see in these establishments: the receptionist. You know that he or she is responsible for greeting you, taking your details, and directing you to the correct department or room.

Maybe this is the job you have always wanted to qualify for. In this blog, you will find out whether the job of a receptionist is the right career choice for you. You will get all the relevant information on annual salaries, working hours, employers, qualifications, and skills. You will also get your first insights into this job before we give you three tips for thriving as a receptionist.

Short Summary

  • As a receptionist, you are responsible for welcoming and greeting visitors to your company. You are then also in charge of directing them to the correct department.
  • As a receptionist, you are in charge of screening, answering, and forwarding incoming calls and emails. You are, therefore, in charge of all communication that arrives at your company.
  • As a receptionist, you may also be tasked with various administrative tasks, such as documenting and filing invoices and expenses, employee files, and payrolls.

Job description

As a receptionist, one of your most important daily tasks is to greet and welcome visitors to your company who you then direct to their designated departments. It is also your job as a receptionist to ensure that the welcoming area of your company looks orderly and professional and has all the leaflets and brochures that provide valuable information. As a receptionist, you are also in charge of screening, answering, and forwarding calls and emails as well as being in charge of making business and travel arrangements. Another one of your jobs as a receptionist is to deal with administrative tasks that can cover documenting and filing invoices, expenses, and employee data.


  • Answering Calls
  • Greeting Visitors
  • Directing Visitors
  • Handling Queries
  • Administrative Tasks
  • Providing Information
  • Screen Incoming Calls
  • Directing Communication
  • Managing Correspondence
  • Maintaining Reception Area

Different types of Receptionists

  • Front Desk Receptionist
  • School Receptionist
  • Virtual Receptionist
  • Legal Receptionist
  • Hotel Receptionist


As a receptionist, you can expect an annual starting salary of £20,000. This can increase to £27,000 with work experience. Also, these figures bookend the annual salaries that you can currently expect when working in England and Wales (£22,000) or Scotland and Northern Ireland (£26,000), respectively. Keep in mind that a more specific location, for example, working as a receptionist in a large city, and your employer will also affect your annual wages.

Working hours

As a receptionist, you tend to work a classic 9 to 5 job, meaning that your weekly working hours amount to 40 hours. Depending on your company’s set-up, your hours may vary. If you work as a school receptionist, for example, you may work fewer hours which amount to about 37 hours a week, whereas your working hours as a virtual receptionist may be more. Here, you should also keep in mind that you may have to work flexible hours since your services can stretch over several time zones. Also, keep in mind that in some cases, you may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.


As you can see from the different types of receptionists, you can find work in different sectors, for example, as a school receptionist. As you can see, you can also apply with law firms or courts, or work in the hospitality industry, for example, as a hotel receptionist. You can find further job and career options in the health and pharmaceutical sector, corporate businesses, and non-profit/charity organisations.


The first qualifications you need to become a receptionist are GCSEs. Typically, you need between four and five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) to enter an apprenticeship. If you want to enter an appropriate college course, you may be able to enter with both fewer GCSEs and lower grades. Note that they should include maths and English, at any rate.

On top of that, you should have proficient knowledge of office software, such as Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint). Here, you can look into industry-related qualifications which we will look at later on. It can also make sense to be familiar with payroll and staff software, for instance, Zenefits, IRIS, and EARNIE. The latter make sense when you are involved in the employee side of your company.

The job as a receptionist could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


You may know that specific skills you have will make your professional life a lot easier and more fun. Of course, this also applies to the job of a receptionist for which you should be equipped with useful competencies. Before we take a look at three of those competencies, we recommend that you always check the job posts. Why? The required skills may vary depending on your future employer’s expectations and needs. But we are certain that the following are among the skills you should have as a future receptionist.

Is the receptionist job a good fit for you? Typically, a receptionist should have or develop the following skills:

Customer Service Skills

You are the first person a visitor sees when entering your company. You are also the first person said visitor will talk to and ask for information from. Therefore, as a receptionist, you should have strong customer service or interpersonal skills which will ensure that your visitors get the welcome they deserve and the information they need. A useful accompaniment to these skills are communication skills, including non-verbal ones. Equipped with this bouquet of skills, you will excel at your job as a receptionist.

Sunny Attitude

When a visitor/patient/guest arrives at your company, the last thing he or she wants to see is a grumpy receptionist. Therefore, you should make sure that you have a sunny attitude that people can already spot from a distance. Granted, it is not always easy to be all smiles and friendliness but this attitude will help you to get through even the most challenging days and deal with even the most challenging visitor.


As a receptionist, you should also be efficient. With this competency under your belt, you will get through every task and every day without hassle and stress since you know all the relevant work processes inside out. Efficiency will also impress your future employers since this means that you will not dawdle and procrastinate when it comes to dealing with your daily tasks.

Career Path

As a receptionist, you tend to start your career as an assistant or trainee receptionist. A mentor – typically a more senior member of staff – teaches you all you need to know for your future job as a receptionist. With years of work experience and an excellent work performance, you can progress to more senior positions, such as the job of a senior receptionist, a front of house supervisor, or a personal assistant (PA).

Educational Background

You typically become a receptionist in the UK by either completing a college course, for example, in business administration or front of house reception, or an intermediate apprenticeship, such as a Customer Service Practitioner Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship or a Hospitality Supervisor Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship. Alternatively, you can get into the job of a receptionist by working towards this role or by applying directly to a job post.

Entry Level

Regardless of your educational approach or whether you start your career as a career jumper, your first job as a receptionist will be at entry level. You generally stay in your job as an assistant or trainee receptionist for about a year before you can discuss promotion with your superiors. While working in any receptionist position, we recommend that you always spend time improving your professional skills. Which options you have as a receptionist is what the following section is all about.

Continuous Learning

As a receptionist, you may be required to be proficient in Microsoft Office since some of your daily tasks can involve documenting, filing, taking bookings, and making appointments. We recommend that you look into a MOS certification (Microsoft Office Specialist) or a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. You can also benefit from earning the following certifications and diplomas: an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification; for Scotland: SVQ) in Business and Administration, a diploma in reception skills, and customer service qualifications, for example, a Level 1 Certificate in Customer Service which is awarded by City & Guilds.

Further Useful Hard Skills

There are more useful hard skills/qualifications that may benefit you when you work as a receptionist. Some employers can require in-depth knowledge or even qualifications in data craft and switchboard systems, such as Meridian and/or Ericson.

A Day in the Life of a Receptionist

You now have all the relevant information on the required qualifications and skills. In this section, you will find out how you apply these hard and soft skills in your job as a receptionist. You will also find out what some of the most typical daily tasks look like.

Greeting/Welcoming Visitors

As a receptionist, you will greet and welcome visitors daily. Therefore, this task is not only one of your most important ones, it is usually also one of the first ones in your working day. Greeting and welcoming visitors is usually followed by further steps, so to speak. Depending on your workplace, you then either take a booking, make an appointment, or direct a visitor to another department. Note that greeting visitors and making the required arrangements can also be done via phone or email.

Handling Enquiries

As a receptionist, you are the port of call when it comes to providing information about your company, the services it offers, and the departments that offer said services. Therefore, another one of your daily tasks is to handle enquiries. This can also include taking bookings, for example, if you work as a front-of-house receptionist in a restaurant or a hotel.

Admin Assistance

Depending on your employer and your exact job description, you may also be asked to help with administrative tasks, such as managing emails, sorting letters, and checking digital data and spreadsheets. In some receptionist jobs, you may also be asked to assist with HR-related documentation and filing and help with scheduling job interviews and preparing the relevant job forms.

Tips for Thriving as a Receptionist

To help you thrive in your chosen career as a receptionist, we have researched some tips that will help you advance in this profession, some of which involve an improvement of the skills you should have if you want to work as a receptionist:

  • Team player mindset
  • Company knowledge
  • Confidentiality

Team Player Mindset

As a receptionist, you will not be working on your own, even if you are manning the reception area on your own. Therefore, you should not only have a team player mindset, you should also always invest time into improving this mindset. Being a teamplayer is way more than knowing how to work well with others. It is also about knowing how to address and resolve conflicts and how to work on solutions and ideas together.

Company Knowledge

As a receptionist, you need to know your company inside out. How else will you be able to give the relevant and – even more important – correct information to your visitors and in answer to enquiries over the phone or via email? If you want to thrive as a receptionist, you should pretty much be your company’s “encyclopaedia” meaning that you should know everything there is to know about it.


Lastly, you should be highly confidential if you want to thrive as a receptionist. It does not matter in which sector you work. As a receptionist, you will deal with sensitive information, for example, when working at a doctor’s office. Not divulging private and personal information is expected of you if you want to a) work as a receptionist, b) succeed as a receptionist, and c) want to stay in your job.

Other jobs that are similar and might also interest you:

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a receptionist earn?

Your annual starting salary as a receptionist comes in at around £20,000 and, with work experience, can increase to £27,000. These numbers can also refer to the annual wages you can expect when working as a receptionist in England and Wales or Scotland and Northern Ireland, where you are paid £22,000 (England and Wales) and £26,000 (Scotland and Northern Ireland) annually. Note that a more specific location, for example, in a big city, and your employer will also affect your annual salary.

What qualifications do I need to become a receptionist?

You generally need between four and five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) to enter a receptionist-related apprenticeship, for example, a Customer Service Practitioner Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship. For a college course, such as a business administration course, you may need fewer GCSEs at lower grades to enter. Also, it can benefit you to earn qualifications in Microsoft Office and be proficient in administrative software, such as Zenefits, IRIS, and EARNIE. 

What is the job of a receptionist?

Your most important daily job as a receptionist is to greet and welcome visitors to your company and to direct them to the departments and colleagues they want to see. It is also your job as a receptionist to ensure that the reception area of your company looks orderly and professional and is stacked with brochures and leaflets relating to your company and things to see, for example. As a receptionist, you are also in charge of all communication arriving at your company. You may also be tasked with making business and travel arrangements and with performing administrative tasks.