Receptionists officially greet customers and visitors and direct them where to go. Duties vary greatly depending on the work situation. The receptionist is usually the first person in a company the client sees or speaks to, therefore it is important that they create a good impression on the client.

The general duties of receptionists, besides greeting and directing visitors, include: answering telephone calls; making appointments; handling correspondence; answering enquiries; filing and completing of documents.

Three different types of receptionist can be distinguished:

Dental and medical receptionists arrange appointments and keep patients’ records. They may handle the payment of accounts. They may also see to the sterilisation of medical instruments and keep them ready for use.

Hotel receptionists welcome visitors to the hotel; allocate rooms; enter particulars such as names and periods of stay in the register and are also responsible for room keys and the payment of accounts.

General business receptionists are the link between the firm and customers or clients and usually refer clients to appropriate members of staff.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy meeting new and different people
  • able to keep information confidential
  • thorough understanding of the employing organisation
  • desire to be helpful and provide information
  • responsible and persistent
  • good command of two official languages including their spelling
  • good typing skills can be useful in some cases
  • neat and well-groomed appearance

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate

What to Study

A secretarial course is not always required, but subjects like Office Administration, Public Relations and Communication can be useful.

Diploma: Secretarial qualifications are available at Northlink and Boland TVET Colleges. Office Management courses at DUT, CPUT, TUT, VUT and UNISA.

After completing these courses, receptionists will be able to handle specialised routine tasks, as well as special assignments with confidence. Diplomas such as the N.Dip. Hotel Management and N.Dip. Public Relations can be of great advantage to any receptionist. 

Hospitality Management can be followed at the CPUT, CUT, DUT, TUT, VUT, and most FET Colleges. Subjects include the following: Hotel Management, Office Administration, Accounting and Client Relations.

Some secretarial colleges offer certificates in receptionist and telephonist skills. Private firms such as banks, hotels and businesses provide in-service training. Receptionists should, in addition to other courses they might have completed, take related courses in Psychology and Personnel Management


  • municipalities and provincial administrations
  • doctors, dentists and lawyers
  • nursing homes, hospitals and other health-care facilities
  • insurance companies and banks
  • factories
  • government departments
  • firms providing business and personal services
  • hotels

Further Information

Any of the above-mentioned potential employers

Getting Started

  • practise your typing, shorthand and other clerical skills
  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a hospital, nursing home or clinic, or clerical work with a business firm
  • speak to a receptionist about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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