Receptionists are the first point of contact for members of the public who are visiting or calling an organisation or business. Members of the public may be clients, customers, patients or visitors.
You could be:
- greeting visitors, giving them directions, making appointments, taking messages, giving information and perhaps giving them refreshments
- answering the phone, putting callers through to the person they want to speak to, taking messages and giving information
- giving visitors security passes or badges and car parking permits
- taking deliveries and signing for them
- typing letters and reports, or stamping or franking mail
- booking meeting rooms, organising courier deliveries or taxis for staff and visitors
- making up bills and handling cash, credit cards and cash
- carrying out other clerical work, mostly on the computer
- keeping the reception area tidy and well organised.
See the separate job profile for the details of hotel receptionist.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for receptionists in Scotland tend to be in the range of £17,000 to around £21,000 a year, rising to around £23,000 a year with experience.
- You would normally work at a desk or workstation in the public area of an office.
- You might be under pressure much of the time, dealing with several visitors and phone calls at once.
- You might sometimes have to deal with difficult people calmly and politely.
- In many cases, your hours would be 9.00am-5.00pm.
- In some organisations, you may have to work in the evenings or at weekends, perhaps on a rota or shift basis.
- Part time work is common.
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- A good general education is useful. Most employers expect some subjects at National 4 or 5 including English.
- As an alternative, you could take an NC or NQ (SCQF Levels 4-6) in business or administration or equivalent before applying for a job. Some courses include units in reception skills.
- There are often no formal entry requirements for an NC or NQ, but some colleges ask for up to 3-4 subjects at National 4 or 5.
- You might be able to get in through a Modern Apprenticeship.
- You need good IT skills.
- Previous office experience, including using the phone, operating a switchboard, and using a photocopier and scanner is helpful. Experience in dealing with the public is also useful.
- In some cases, it helps if you can speak another language.
You could work for many different types of organisation, including manufacturing companies, banks and building societies, colleges and universities, government offices, hospitals and surgeries.
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- well informed about your organisation to pass enquiries to the right person
- able to keep calm under pressure
- efficient and well organised
- able to deal with several matters at once.
You should have:
- excellent communication skills
- a good memory, particularly for names and faces
- a pleasant manner
- a smart appearance.
- Training is normally on the job.
- You could also study part time, while working, to get a qualification in administration, business or equivalent.
- You could study for an SVQ in Business and Administration or Customer Service at SCQF Level 5.
- Promotion prospects depend on the type of organisation you work for.
- In larger organisations, you might move on to become a senior or head receptionist.
- You could also perhaps move into jobs such as administration assistant or secretary, or into more senior jobs such as personal assistant or office manager.
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