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How to Become a Receptionist

Although hiring requirements vary by industry and employer, most receptionists need a high school diploma.                     

Education and Training

Receptionists generally need a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Most receptionists receive their training on the job. They learn how to operate the telephone system and computers and learn the proper procedures for greeting visitors. While many of these skills can be learned quickly, those who give information to the public or customers may need several weeks to learn details about the organization.

Employers often look for applicants who know spreadsheets, word processing software, or other industry specific software applications. Some employers may prefer applicants who have some formal office education or training.


Receptionists typically advance by transferring to an occupation with more responsibility or by being promoted to a supervisory position. Receptionists with especially strong computer skills, some postsecondary education, and several years of experience may advance to a better paying job as a secretary or an administrative assistant.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Receptionists need a working knowledge of different software packages or industry-specific software applications.

Customer-service skills. Receptionists represent an organization. As a result, they must be courteous, professional, and helpful toward the public and customers.

Listening skills. Receptionists must be good listeners. They must listen patiently to the points being made, wait to speak until others have finished, and ask appropriate questions when necessary. 

Speaking skills. The ability to communicate clearly is essential for receptionists because much of their job involves conveying information over the phone or in person. 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition