In order to become a receptionist, you’re going to need a friendly personality and a professional manner, both in person and on the telephone.
As a first point of contact for customers, organisations rely heavily on their receptionist to deal with people efficiently and professionally. That’s going to need excellent people skills as you may be required to deal with difficult customers on occasion.
With no formal qualifications required to become a receptionist, the field is wide open for you just to select what type of reception work you want to do, and then further your career with specialised training, to deliver the best service to businesses and customers alike.
What training do you need to become a secretary?
The role of the receptionist differs for each position and is dependent mostly on the industry sector of each business. To get yourself the best jobs, you’re best to specialise. The way you do this, is to look through your CV and identify the fields where you’ve worked previously.
A receptionist for a small office will require different training than a hotel receptionist job. Therefore, consider the field you want to work in, before undertaking receptionist training. This lets you ensure that the course you take will compliment your career, while minimizing the risk of making yourself overqualified for receptionist jobs. This is possible, if you do too much training across a variety of fields.
A few sectors to consider prior to training
Every small business will require a receptionist. You’ll be the first point of contact with customers, so you’ll be expected to excel in customer services. Have an extremely pleasant telephone manner and be good with the English vocabulary. This is required as part of your job is going to involve:
For most receptionist jobs in the small business field, you’ll be expected to have a good GCSE grade in English. This isn’t always a prerequisite, but it’s advantageous to show that you’re good with the English language.
Work experience in a customer focused role is sufficient to apply for vacancies, however you can further your education to specialise in the reception duties, assisting small business owners. A Business and Administration certificate is adequate training to present yourself with the sufficient education for this role.
Beauty salons, barbers, and hairdressers still require receptionists. They’re the people responsible for scheduling appointment dates and times, meeting and greeting clients and making their visit the best experience with the company.
If this sounds like you, then the training you’ll want to become a receptionist in a beauty salon will be at least a level 1 certificate in Salon Reception Duties. Most candidates applying for a position in a salon won’t come with a tailored training certificate, so having a Salon Reception Duties certificate at any level, is going to set you apart to work in that environment.
The hospitality and catering sector will often require their staff to do shift work. This is for hotels and restaurants, and you’ll be highly responsible for the efficient management of bookings, and meeting the needs of each customer you deal with. This is a demanding role and you’ll need to possess great people skills.
The role is mainly going to be customer services and helping customers with any problems. Also dealing with the establishments telephone enquiries, email support and bookings, are among some of the things you’ll be required to do. Receptionist training for the hospitality sector will involve obtaining a certificate at level 2 for Front of House Reception. Further education in the field can be done by achieving your level 2 Diploma in Reception Operation and Services. With either of those qualifications, you’ll be highly suited to reception jobs for hotels and restaurants.
Training for a medical receptionist job role is the same as a medical secretary. You’ll need to be extensively trained in medical language. You can show this to employers by working towards a Level 2 Certificate and Diploma for Medical Administration and/or a British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA) certificate in Medical studies.
Many companies will offer on the job training for their staff. This ensures that the person they employ knows exactly how to work with the technology used in the office. This will normally be along the lines of telephone switchboards and perhaps even computer programs, or software.
The company will offer training specific to their needs, but you will find that to access it you’ll need to meet a few requirements.
The more involved you are with the company, the better you can represent it. That’s one of the main qualities looked for by employers for their receptionist. If you can display that you’re extremely professional, well spoken, good with written communication and would make a great representative of the business you apply to work with, you’ll be able to get yourself on the job training.
Perhaps starting out part-time, while working towards the qualifications that would benefit the industry you work in. Be it hospitality, catering, medical or for representing small offices. The relevant training towards industry specific qualifications, combined with the experience is what will set you up with a career as a receptionist.
What job opportunities are available?
There’s a variety of different types of receptionist jobs, full-time, part-time, front of desk or part of a team and can range from entry-level positions to college educated candidates. While the qualifications will vary, there are a few key skills you’re going to have to possess for a career as a receptionist. You’ll need to have a fantastic personality, ability to multi-task, and possess superior organisational and communication skills.
The role of the receptionist requires you to be the first point of contact with customers and clients. Therefore, employers are going to be demanding the highest of respect for their customers.
Receptionist jobs are mainly customer focused. You have to represent businesses in the best manner possible, and that can sometimes mean dealing with difficult clients, when problems arise. For this, you’re going to need to be good at resolving customer issues in the fastest and most convenient way possible. The responsibilities of your role as a receptionist will be dependent on the sector you’re working in. You can, and are best to specialise in one specific sector, rather than focusing on sole reception work across any field.
The different types of receptionist jobs
Medical receptionists are required for GP offices, hospitals, and clinics, both in the NHS and in the private sector. You can find entry-level medical receptionist jobs on the NHS, but you are encouraged to further your training in the field, by taking courses run through The British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA).
The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators, & Receptionists (AMSPAR) are another training organisation, which can help propel your career as a medical receptionist.
As a receptionist for a hotel, you’ll be the first point of contact with all visitors to the establishment. A professional appearance is always required, although some establishments will provide you with a company uniform, if necessary. As the first point of contact, both in person and on the telephone, you’ll be responsible for maintaining the bookings schedules, which will require computer literacy.
A professional and courteous manner is always required to meet with customers and ensure they get the best experience with the company. Any issues that customers have, it is the responsibility of the hotel receptionist, to ensure it’s resolved efficiently and appropriately, or directed to the correct department. For hospitality reception training, you can gain a Front of House Reception Training Certificate, or train towards gaining your Diploma in Reception Operation and Services.
As a receptionist for accountancy firms, you’re going to need to be extremely organised and have the ability to maintain the highest degree of discretion. For larger accountancy firms, you’ll be responsible for working with a team of receptionists, normally consisting of 2 or 3 other staff.
Busy offices require the telephones to be manned consistently, and a presence at the front desk to meet with clients as they come and go for meetings. You’ll be responsible for ensuring the meetings are scheduled and that they run to time, as well as providing refreshments as and when required. You may find that the role of a receptionist in the accountancy field is more of a personal assistant, rather than just running the front desk and keeping the reception area tidy and professionally presentable.
These types of reception jobs are often entry-level and don’t require specific qualifications. Just the ability to work in a fast paced environment and maintain the highest level of professionalism, when dealing with the company’s clients.
For legal work, you’ll find that these jobs are often advertised for legal secretaries. The only difference between a legal secretary and a receptionist is that you’ll be the first point of contact with any client of the company.
A legal secretary will normally work with one solicitor, whereas the receptionist will be required to take telephone calls and enquiries, and direct those to the correct personnel in the company. For a job in this field, you don’t always need to have qualifications, but having the ability to work with computer programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and other programs will be required.
Busy salons rely on the receptionist to maintain the bookings, and deal with enquiries. It lets the beauty therapists and hairdressers tend to their clients while the receptionist will handle the administrative side of the business. This will require you to take bookings, amend appointments when cancellations come in, and provide administrative support to staff. In order to push your career forward with reception jobs in the beauty industry, you can work towards Salon Reception Duties Certification, which will demonstrate that you have the essential skills to provide the best service as a salon receptionist.
Working as a dental receptionist doesn’t require any formal qualifications to begin in this career.
The most important factors are that you’re trustworthy, as you’ll be dealing with patients’ bills and taking payments. You’ll also need to be highly organised and be able to maintain the appointments. This will also require you to send reminders to patients. Knowledge of computer programs will be required, as you’ll be working with the companies invoicing software, in order to generate patient invoices, which will also need to be in line with the practices FTA (Failure to Attend) requirements. With the varying types of reception jobs, there’s going to be no shortage of work for you to apply for.
The best way to get your career started as a receptionist of any type is to demonstrate your communication skills, by telephoning organisations and enquiring about any positions that may be available. For every job as a receptionist, communication is key. Get your message across to employers that you’re politely spoken, have a good grasp on the English language, you can work with computers and are excellent with people. Having those qualities is enough to get started as a receptionist.
Once you start, you can further develop your skills with training suited to the job requirements of the company you’re working with.
Within larger organisations, there’s often more than one receptionist.
The busier the offices, the more demanding the role is, and the more demand there is, the busier the receptionist.
This calls for additional staff to be brought in, and when that happens, there’s opportunity for you to lead the team, train others and ensure that all the duties are carried out on time, and keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. In essence, you become the manager of the reception desk.
Heading up a team and delegating workload. With earnings starting out around £11k and progressing twice as much with receptionist training, tailored to the industry you work in, you can find yourself in a higher pay bracket, with opportunity to take on more responsibility in a much higher demanding job role.