Medical Office Receptionist Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a medical office receptionist career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if pursuing a career as a medical receptionist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Medical Receptionist Career

A medical receptionist is typically the first person a patient sees when visiting the doctor. Find out the pros and cons of being a medical receptionist to see if it's a career you want to pursue.

PROS of a Medical Receptionist Career
Can enter the field with only a high school diploma*
Medical offices are they highest employing industry in receptionist field*
Opportunity to work anywhere healthcare facilities are located*
High projected job growth (22% from 2012-2022)**

CONS of a Medical Receptionist Career
Pay is low (mean hourly wage was about $13.38 in 2014)*
Often work in busy, fast-paced offices*
Requires healthcare-specific and technical knowledge*
May entail dealing with difficult or irate patients*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. **O*NET OnLine.

Career Information

Job Duties

As a medical receptionist, some of your daily activities will include scheduling appointments, filing paperwork and arranging for patients to be hospitalized as well as greeting and directing visitors as they enter the office. You will also answer the phones and reply to inquiries or route calls to appropriate staff members. You may collect basic medical history information from patients and help them complete insurance or hospital intake forms. Some doctors may ask you to prepare their correspondences or transcribe reports for them. This job entails using office equipment, such as fax machines, computer and transcription machines.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 981,150 receptionists and information clerks employed in the nation as of May 2014. These professionals earned a mean salary of nearly $27,830, which equates to on average about $13.38 per hour. The largest share of receptionists worked in physicians' offices (198,940); however, others also work in dentists' offices, personal care services, professional/technical/scientific services and other healthcare facilities.

The BLS also reported that medical reception is among the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., accounting for a majority of the projected 14% growth in receptionist jobs overall from 2012-2022, while job growth was projected to rise 22% for medical receptionists. This growth will be spurred by a boom in the healthcare industry and the rising aging population.

What Are the Requirements?

You may qualify for entry-level employment as a medical office receptionist with only a high school diploma. You'll generally receive training on the job after being hired. Computer and secretarial skills are often employers' main qualifications. Medical receptionists must also be personable and pleasant, because they because they're often the first people patients' encounter. You'll also need to be organized and be able to multitask in a busy setting. Since you will write emails, memos and reports on a daily basis, you'll also need strong writing skills.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Although you may be qualified to enter the medical receptionist field with a high school diploma, many employers have other requirements specific to their open positions. You may need healthcare-specific knowledge, such as in medical transcription or terminology. Here's a sample of medical receptionist job listings advertised in March of 2012:

  • A medical facility in California is seeking a full-time medical receptionist with proficiency in Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel and 1-2 years of year of medical office experience as well as a high level of organizational, customer service and professional skills.
  • A medical office in Illinois is hiring a receptionist with a high school diploma and 1-2 years of medical office experience. The ideal applicant is bilingual and can type at least 30 words per minute.
  • A pediatric office in Massachusetts seeks an experienced front desk receptionist. Applicants should have a flexible schedule and familiarity with electronic medical records.

How to Stand Out

Get Postsecondary Training

While a high school diploma is the minimum education required, employers often prefer applicants with formal training. Many 2-year colleges and technical schools offer medical receptionist certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs to prepare you for your career. These programs may include courses in medical terminology, insurance billing, office procedures, medical coding and Microsoft Office applications.

Get Certified

Certification is not mandatory for this career; however, it can demonstrate a high level of competency to prospective employers. The International Association of Administrative Professionals, for example, offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation to qualified receptionists in all types of offices. Applicants must have four years of experience to be eligible to sit for the CAP exam. Alternatively, you may qualify if you have three years of experience coupled with an associate's degree or two years of experience coupled with a bachelor's degree. CAP holders must recertify every five years through continuing education.

Other Career Paths

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

If you want a career in healthcare support but want to avoid the constant patient contact involved in office reception, consider becoming a medical records and health information technician. These professionals work behind the scenes to ensure medical records are accurate. This job usually entails a certificate or associate's degree in health information technology, however, salaries are generally higher than they are for receptionists; the mean salary for medical records and health information technicians was about $36,000 as of May 2011.

Medical Assistant

A healthcare support career that involves more advanced functions is medical assistance. Medical assistants provide administrative support along with conducting clinical duties, like preparing patients for treatment, drawing blood or taking vital signs. There are generally no formal education requirements for this career. The BLS reports the mean annual wage for this occupation was about $30,000 as of May 2011.

Medical Transcriptionist

Another viable career option similar to office reception is medical transcription. Medical transcriptionists use electronic devices to transcribe dictation from doctors regarding diagnosis, operations, treatments and any other notes they need in a readable format. Transcriptionists typically hold certificates or associate's degrees in medical transcription, and the BLS reports that they earned a mean salary of around $34,000 as of May 2011.

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
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. 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
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    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
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
      • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
      • B.S. - Health Care Management
  • Campus Locations:
    6. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Office Specialist
      • Medical Practice Management
      • Medical Office Administration
      • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate
  • Campus Locations:
    7. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma Program - Medical Office Specialist
      • Diploma Program - Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare 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?

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

Are you a US citizen?

Brightwood College

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

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?