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What is a Front Desk Job?

A front desk job is a position that provides the first point of contact for a business. Also called a receptionist, front desk employees act as the face of the company, meaning they’re often the first person a customer sees or speaks to.

This is a desk job, but it’s not hidden. Front desk receptionists sit at the front of offices, often within customer waiting rooms or lobbies. In this position, front desk employees serve both the company’s other employees and its clients.

What do People with Front Desk Jobs Do?

People with front desk jobs have a wide variety of responsibilities that may vary from industry to industry. However, regardless of what type of company they work for, most front desk receptionists are responsible for the following:

  • Greeting customers or clients as they enter the building
  • Answering phones
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Processing payments for services
  • Answering customer questions
  • Maintaining customer records
  • Organizing customer files
  • Monitoring and forwarding inquiry emails
  • Keeping the front desk area neat and presentable

In some businesses, front desk employees will have additional responsibilities. For example, in many smaller companies, front desk receptionists help with bookkeeping duties. They may also be in charge of tracking and ordering office supplies for the building.

In medical offices, the front desk position can be even more demanding. Here, front desk employees often have to collect patient information and facilitate copays through insurance companies.

In hotels, front desk jobs also require greater responsibility. Hotel receptionists must handle all check-in procedures, which often require collaboration with the housekeeping and reservations team.

They also serve as the point of contact for all guests staying within the hotel and will have to field questions and requests that cover everything from security concerns to meal preferences.

Though it’s rare for a company to state it in the official job description, most front desk positions also require employees to act as gatekeepers for the doctors, lawyers, or managers they serve.

Receptionists have to protect other employees’ time, which may mean turning away unscheduled calls and appointments in an unoffending way. They also have to help with customer complaints. That’s why excellent customer service skills are necessary for front desk positions.

Where do People with Front Desk Jobs Work?

People with front desk jobs work in a variety of industries. Any company that offers a service tends to employ front desk receptionists. This includes:

  • Hotels
  • Law offices
  • Medical offices
  • Salons
  • Spas
  • Universities
  • Accountants
  • Contractors
  • Any other service-based business

Smaller businesses typically have one or two front desk employees. However, larger operations like hotels and some medical offices may have several front desk receptionists working at once.

What Degree is Required for a Front Desk Job?

Most front desk jobs require a high school diploma or GED. Many will also ask for experience in customer service and basic bookkeeping.

In larger operations, like hotels or medical offices, more degrees or experience may be a requirement.

In hotels, for example, many front desk employees have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in hotel management. There, the front desk position is often a stepping stone into higher management positions.

In medical offices, front desk employees may have an associate’s degree in health information systems. They may need some experience in medical coding as well.

How Much Money Do Front Desk Jobs Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor (BLS), front desk receptionists make an average of $31,110 per year or about $14.96 per hour. However, the amount a receptionist makes will vary greatly by industry.

Businesses put a high value on good front desk receptionists for several reasons. They represent the company and can protect the time of managers and employees. So, when a company finds a front desk employee that does the job well, they often pay them more than the average suggests.

However, many businesses are shifting away from using in-person front desk employees in favor of less costly virtual options. That’s part of why receptionist positions are only growing at 4% of the year, which is below average compared to other careers.

Front Desk Job Requirements

Most front desk jobs require employees to have a high school degree and some sort of customer service experience.

Employers also look for excellent communication and time management skills. On top of that, companies may want employees to demonstrate proficiency in common office computer programs like excel or Microsoft office.

Many community colleges offer short but thorough certification programs for receptionists. The courses are usually titled something like “Office Clerk Course” or “Receptionist Certification Course.” In those programs, students typically take classes on communication, basic business math, computer programs, and filing management.

Often, students can complete these certification courses in under a year.

Most of the time, though, potential front desk employees don’t need to take a certification course. By showing prospective employers that they’re social, presentable, organized, and good at communication, they can usually gain employment. Most can readily prove this during the interview process.

Front Desk Job Career Paths

Many front desk employees move into other customer-facing careers. They may be able to move into the sales department for their company. Some move into marketing departments as well.

Because receptionists have a thorough knowledge of a company’s customers and how to best speak with them, they can be invaluable in sales and marketing positions.

In medical offices, universities, and hotels, many receptionists work their way into office management roles. There, they may run the receptionist team and take on larger responsibilities like managing budgets and acting as the liaison for some company suppliers.

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