Despite the synonymity of the terms secretary and receptionists, receptionists’ responsibilities can be quite different from the former. While many people think being a receptionist is easy, this isn’t necessarily so. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a receptionist.
Pro: Education requirements are generally minimal, which means you can start your “real life” right away.
Most receptionist positions require only a high school diploma; most like a little bit of experience, but sometimes if you have the right skillset and a positive attitude, you can find the a position. This can be a great option for you if you’re bright and personable, but just don’t feel like college is the right choice for you. Some places even employ part time receptionists, which means you can work while finishing high school, or while getting a college degree for a similar but better paying position (such as an office manager).
Con: There isn’t generally much upward movement within the company.
Unfortunately, there’s not often a lot of promotional opportunities as a receptionist. Most places that employ receptionists are offices or clinics of doctors, lawyers, dentists. There are sometimes opportunities to get into other administrative assistant positions that pay better in larger companies. Some of these positions do require a college degree; for example, many places prefer their office managers to have a degree like finance (or a similar field) because they have to take care of things like payroll and taxes.
Pro: You can make use of a variety of important skills that can qualify you for jobs down the road.
Being a receptionist can, however, be a great way to get into other positions with companies that require extensive interpersonal and communication skills. These jobs often come with better pay and more responsibilities. As a receptionist, your communication, organization, and multitasking skills have to be top notch.
Con: Most offices alternate from being overwhelming busy to mind-numbingly slow.
One of the biggest frustrations with being a receptionist is that it can be a redundant job. On slow days, you may be desperately searching for something to do that isn’t staring at the phone or door, waiting for a client to make an appointment. On busy days, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of phone calls and people walking in demanding your assistance.
Pro: You get the opportunity not only to help people get what they need, but to meet a lot of people as well.
Generally, the main responsibility of a secretary is to “receive”. For a personable, chatty person, being a receptionist can be a dream job. Having a good memory for faces and names is also a great attribute, as clients respond well to receptionists who remember them as soon as they walk in the door. Additionally, everyone eventually needs a doctor or dentist. Working in places like these is a great opportunity to meet people and start networking effectively, potentially to bigger and better things.
Con: A receptionist’s salary isn’t going to buy you a mansion.
The unfortunate truth of a position that doesn’t require much education is that they aren’t (generally) very lucrative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for a receptionist position is about $30,000 a year, or about $13 an hour. Even more unfortunate, the lowest 10% make less than $10 an hour, while the upper 10% rarely hit $20 an hour. The kind of office you work in can considerably affect your pay, so make sure you looking at your options before choosing a job. On the up side, the BLS reports receptionist positions have a faster than average growth rate—an expected 10% by 2024.