Occupation Profile for Receptionists and Information Clerks

Answer inquiries and obtain information for general public, customers, visitors, and other interested parties. Provide information regarding activities conducted at establishment; location of departments, offices, and employees within organization.

 
 

Significant Points

  • Good interpersonal skills are critical.
  • A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common educational requirement.
  • Employment is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations.

 

 
 
Overview
$22,900.00 Median Annual Wage 49,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
5.8 Average Unemployment Percentage 41.8 Percentage That Completed High School
1,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 45.5 Percentage That Had Some College
1,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 12.7 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Administrative Assistant
Appointment Clerk
Appointment Scheduler
Appointment Setter
Assistant, Tourist Information
Call Center Agent
Call Center Operator
Call Center Representative
Call Taker
Cashier
Clinic Receptionist
Community Liaison
Credit Reporting Clerk
Customer Care Representative (CCR)
Customer Service Representative
Dental Receptionist
Emergency Room Clerk
File Clerk
Front Desk Clerk
Front Desk Officer
Front Desk Receptionist
Greeter
Hospitality Aide
In-File Operator
Information Clerk, Automobile Club
Land Leasing Examiner
Land Leasing Information Clerk
Legal Receptionist
Medical Assistant
Medical Office Receptionist
Medical Scheduler
Medical Secretary
Member Service Representative
Merchandising Assistant
Office Assistant
Office Manager
Operator
Outpatient Clerk
Park Aide
Patient Registration Representative
Pay Station Attendant
People Greeter
Policyholder Information Clerk
Quoter
Receptionist
Receptionist Telephone Operator
Receptionist, with Other Clerical Activities
Referral and Information Aide
Referral Coordinator
Register Clerk
Registrar
Registrar, Guard Entrance
Registration Clerk
Research Clerk
Sales Assistant
Schedule Announcer
Scheduler
Secretary
Space Scheduler
Telephone Answerer
Telephone Appointment Clerk
Telephone Clerk
Telephone Information Clerk
Telephone Operator Receptionist
Telephone Quotation Clerk
Utility Clerk

Training
  • These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, pharmacy technicians, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
  • These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate's or bachelor's degree could be needed.
  • Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience may be helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a teller might benefit from experience working directly with the public, but an inexperienced person could still learn to be a teller with little difficulty.
  • Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.

A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common educational requirement, although hiring requirements for receptionists and information clerks vary by industry. Good interpersonal skills and being technologically proficient also are important to employers.

Education and training. Receptionists and information clerks generally need a high school diploma or equivalent as most of their training is received on the job. 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, fax messages, and parcels. While many of these skills can be learned quickly, those who are charged with relaying information to visitors or customers may need several months to learn details about the organization.

Other qualifications. Good interpersonal and customer service skills—being courteous, professional, and helpful—are critical for this job. Being an active listener often is a key quality needed by receptionists and information clerks that requires the ability to listen patiently to the points being made, to wait to speak until others have finished, and to ask appropriate questions when necessary. In addition, the ability to relay information accurately to others is important.

The ability to operate a wide range of office technology also is helpful, as receptionists and information clerks are often asked to work on other assignments during the day.

Advancement. Advancement for receptionists generally comes about either by transferring to an occupation with more responsibility 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.

Nature of Work

Receptionists and information clerks are charged with a responsibility that may affect the success of an organization: making a good first impression. Receptionists and information clerks answer telephones, route and screen calls, greet visitors, respond to inquiries from the public, and provide information about the organization. Some are responsible for the coordination of all mail into and out of the office. In addition, they contribute to the security of an organization by helping to monitor the access of visitors—a function that has become increasingly important.

Whereas some tasks are common to most receptionists and information clerks, their specific responsibilities vary with the type of establishment in which they work. For example, receptionists and information clerks in hospitals and in doctors’ offices may gather patients’ personal and insurance information and direct them to the proper waiting rooms. In corporate headquarters, they may greet visitors and manage the scheduling of the board room or common conference area. In beauty or hair salons, they arrange appointments, direct customers to the hairstylist, and may serve as cashiers. In factories, large corporations, and government offices, receptionists and information clerks 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 and information clerks use multiline telephone systems, personal computers, and fax machines. Despite the widespread use of automated answering systems or voice mail, many receptionists and clerks still take messages and inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellation of an appointment. When they are not busy with callers, most workers are expected to perform a variety of office duties, including opening and sorting mail, collecting and distributing parcels, and transmitting and delivering facsimiles. Other duties include updating appointment calendars, preparing travel vouchers, and performing basic bookkeeping, word processing, and filing.

Work environment. Receptionists and information clerks 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 they may 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.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Median hourly earnings of receptionists and information clerks in May 2006 were $11.01. The middle 50 percent earned between $9.06 and $13.51. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.54, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $16.23. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of receptionists and information clerks in May 2006 were:

Offices of dentists $12.89
General medical and surgical hospitals 11.74
Offices of physicians 11.44
Employment services 10.72
Personal care services 8.57

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Receptionists and information clerks
  • Job Outlook

    Employment of receptionists and information clerks is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations. Receptionists and information clerks will have a very large number of new jobs arise, more than 200,000 over the 2006-16 period. Additional job opportunities will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

    Employment change. Receptionists and information clerks are expected to increase by 17 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will result from rapid growth in the following industries: offices of physicians, legal services, employment services, and management and technical consulting.

    Technology will have conflicting effects on employment growth 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. At the same time, 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.

    Job prospects. In addition to job growth, numerous job opportunities will be created 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.

    Employment

    Receptionists and information clerks held about 1.2 million jobs in 2006. The health care and social assistance industries—including offices of physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient care facilities—employed about 33 percent 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 work part time.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Core — Keep a current record of staff members' whereabouts and availability.
    • Core — Collect, sort, distribute and prepare mail, messages and courier deliveries.
    • Core — Operate telephone switchboard to answer, screen and forward calls, providing information, taking messages and scheduling appointments.
    • Supplemental — Calculate and quote rates for tours, stocks, insurance policies, or other products and services.
    • Core — Receive payment and record receipts for services.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
     
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