Becoming a Hospital Receptionist: Job Description & Salary Info

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The average annual salary for hospital receptionists was about $33,000 per year. Read on to learn more about the job outlook for this career and what real employers are looking for.
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Pros and Cons of Working as a Hospital Receptionist

Hospital receptionists, also known as medical secretaries or medical administrative assistants, perform secretarial work within the medical field. The following are a few pros and cons of pursuing this career path.

Pros of Becoming a Hospital Receptionist
Good job growth (36% employment increase projected for medical secretaries from 2012-2022)*
Little or no postsecondary education requirements*
Opportunity to advance to supervisory positions with experience*
Possibility to work from home*

Cons of Becoming a Hospital Receptionist
Average pay may be lower than desired (about $33,000 per year as of May 2014)*
May require long hours*
Requires knowledge of complex medical terms and procedures*
Skills with office software are often needed*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Duties

Medical secretaries provide administrative support at hospitals, clinics or ambulatory care centers. Professionals in this field may work with doctors or other office administrators to coordinate tasks and ensure that offices run efficiently. Your daily job duties could consist of answering telephones, scheduling appointments, greeting visitors, operating office equipment and fielding voice mails. Other responsibilities may include helping patients fill out medical documents, taking messages for doctors, answering e-mails, ordering medical supplies or maintaining medical records.

Salary Figures

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical secretaries earned a median annual salary of about $32,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The top ten percent of professionals in this field earned about $47,000 or more, while those in the bottom ten percent made $22,000 or less. Junior colleges, consumer goods rentals, state governments, scientific research companies and dentist offices were the highest-paying places of employment for medical secretaries.

Career Outlook

The BLS expected an employment growth rate of 36% for medical secretaries between 2012 and 2022, which was much faster than the average for other jobs in the United States. Jobs should be opening up quickly, since a number of medical secretaries are leaving the field or retiring. Additionally, there is a high demand for medical administrative professionals who are proficient in new technologies. The highest concentrations of employment for this profession were in physicians' offices, dental offices, outpatient care centers and medical laboratories.

Career Requirements

Education

You can get a job as a medical secretary with as little as a high school diploma. However, while a postsecondary degree is often not required, you can increase your chances of employment by earning an associate's degree or an undergraduate certificate in medical office technology. A certificate program usually takes less than a year to complete, while an associate's degree program may take up to two years. You could take classes in subjects like medical terminology, medical office procedures, data management or word processing. Other areas of study could include anatomy, medical coding, keyboarding and business communications.

Skills

Medical secretaries must have good oral comprehension skills so that they can listen to and understand complex and sometimes technical instructions. Likewise, they must communicate clearly with patients, administrative staff and doctors. Being able to learn new technologies and computer applications could also be beneficial to your success. Other valuable qualities include keyboarding skills, the ability to write clearly and knowledge of insurance billing.

Real Job Postings

Medical assistants can work in hospitals, private doctors' offices or insurance company offices. While you generally don't need a degree to secure a position, employers may prefer job candidates with an associate's degree, undergraduate certificate or work experience. Take a look at the following April 2012 job postings to get a feel for what real employers might want in job applicants.

  • A non-profit health services company in Massachusetts seeks a medical administrative assistant to greet patients, field questions and maintain medical records. To get this job, you must hold prior administrative experience, be proficient in Microsoft Office and have the ability to work as part of a team.
  • A medical assistant is needed for a healthcare company in Sacramento, California. You need 1-3 years of experience in the field to apply.
  • An employer in Idaho seeks a medical administrative assistant to oversee medical databases and provide support for the executive administrative personnel. There is no degree specified for this job, but successful applicants must have customer service experience, computer skills and a collaborative, outgoing personality.

How To Stand Out

Earn a Degree

Earning a bachelor's degree could increase your chances of getting a job as a medical secretary, and it may even help you secure a managerial position. For example, you might pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in medical administration. This is a degree program that trains you in the fundamental business skills needed to run a healthcare organization and could qualify you for entry-level management positions in hospital offices.

Find an Organization

You might also join a professional organization, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) or the Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (AEAP). The benefits of joining a professional organization include networking opportunities, annual conferences and job search services.

Alternative Careers

Bookkeeping Clerk

If you're interested in administrative support but don't want to work in the medical industry, consider pursuing a career as a bookkeeping clerk. Like a medical secretary, you only need a high school diploma to get this job. Some of your responsibilities might include recording business transactions, preparing financial records and updating financial statements for an organization. This job paid a median salary of about $35,000 per year, reported the BLS.

Paralegal

If you want to earn a little more money but wish to stay in the administrative field, consider working as a paralegal. Paralegals help lawyers prepare for court, perform research and create legal documents. You need to have an associate's degree to apply for positions, but the BLS reported that the field pays a median salary of about $47,000 per year.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
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    2. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
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    3. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
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    4. Kaplan University

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    Master's
      • Master of Health Information Management
      • Master of Health Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • BS in Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Health Science
    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
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    5. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma Program - Medical Office Specialist
      • Diploma Program - Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
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    6. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Office Specialist
      • Medical Practice Management
      • Medical Office Administration
      • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate
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    7. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
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    8. Northcentral University

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    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
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    9. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
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      • Master of Public Administration - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
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    10. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Health Care Management

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
  • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Master of Health Information Management
  • Health Information Management
  • Medical Office Administration Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Virginia College

  • Diploma Program - Medical Office Specialist
  • Diploma Program - Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

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Brightwood College

  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Medical Practice Management
  • Medical Office Administration

What is your highest level of education?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?