California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Receptionists and Information Clerks in California

May also be called: Administrative Assistants; Office Managers; Secretaries; Community Liaisons; Member Service Representatives; Office Assistants; File Clerks; Front Desk Receptionists; Greeters; Appointment Clerks; Front Desk Clerks; Referral and Information Aides; Schedulers; and Credit Reporting Clerks.

What Would I Do?

Initial impressions are important to a business. A friendly greeting over the telephone or at a Receptionists desk can turn a visitor into a customer. Receptionists and Information Clerks help enhance the public impression of a business by providing efficient, courteous, and personalized customer service. They typically greet visitors, schedule appointments, and answer questions for the general public and other interested parties. They also obtain and provide information regarding activities conducted at an establishment or the location of departments, offices, or employees within the organization.

Despite the widespread use of automated answering systems or voice mail, many Receptionists and Information Clerks answer either single or multi-line telephones and record the names of callers, the time of call, and the nature of business. They also route phone calls and inform employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancelled appointments. Receptionists and Information Clerks must be knowledgeable about their company’s services and products so they can answer customer inquiries. Some contribute to the security of an organization by monitoring access of visitors, acting as guides or security escorts, and furnishing identification badges.

When not occupied with telephone calls and visitors, Receptionists and Information Clerks perform clerical duties. They may use personal computers, fax machines, or copy machines. In addition, some operate calculators and use computers to figure pay records, invoices, balance sheets, and perform statistical, financial, and record-keeping functions. They open, sort, and distribute incoming mail and prepare outgoing mail. Receptionists and Information Clerks also transmit and deliver facsimiles, update appointment calendars, and prepare travel vouchers. They may type letters and reports; address envelopes, cards, and labels; file correspondence and documents; and locate and remove materials from files. Some may take orders for merchandise or materials and send them to the proper departments to be filled.

The specific responsibilities of Receptionists vary with the type of establishment in which they work. For example, Receptionists in hospitals and doctors’ offices may gather patients’ personal and financial information and direct them to the proper waiting rooms. In corporate headquarters, however, Receptionists may greet visitors and manage the scheduling of the board room or common conference area.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Operate telephone switchboard to answer, screen and forward calls, providing information, taking messages and scheduling appointments.Speaking
Receive payment and record receipts for services.Mathematics
Perform administrative support tasks such as proofreading, transcribing handwritten information, and operating calculators or computers to work with pay records, invoices, balance sheets and other documents.Clerical
Greet persons entering establishment, determine nature and purpose of visit, and direct or escort them to specific destinations.Customer and Personal Service
Hear and resolve complaints from customers and public.Active Listening
File and maintain records.Information Ordering
Transmit information or documents to customers, using computer, mail, or facsimile machine.Writing
Analyze data to determine answers to questions from customers or members of the public.Critical Thinking
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Receptionists and Information Clerks who greet customers and visitors usually work in areas that are highly visible, so their offices are generally designed and furnished to make a good impression. Most work stations are clean, well-furnished, well lit, and air-conditioned. The work performed by some Receptionists and Information Clerks may be very friendly and motivating, especially for individuals who enjoy greeting customers face to face and making them feel comfortable. However, it can also be tiring, repetitious, and stressful as many Receptionists spend all day answering ringing telephones and sometimes encounter difficult or irate customers. Some also have strict deadlines to complete their work.

Most Receptionists and Information Clerks sit at a desk during their entire work day but may stand or walk to deliver mail or perform other tasks such as filing. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, Monday through Friday; however, some may work irregular hours, on weekends, or holidays. Overtime work is not very common.

Some Receptionists and Information Clerks may belong to a union, such as the California local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) or the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Receptionist and Information Clerk will appeal to those who enjoy working with people and performing duties that are organized, clearly defined, and require accuracy and attention to detail. This occupation satisfies those with conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines where the lines of authority are clear.

Receptionists and Information Clerks need a pleasant personality and the ability to work well with others. A well-groomed, business-like appearance, clear speaking voice, and good judgment are important. They should be able to work independently and under pressure, have good public contact skills, and have legible handwriting.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salaries for Receptionists and Information Clerks depend on experience, length of service, clerical skills, and degree of responsibility. Wages vary from one geographical area to another and from industry to industry. Employees who work in larger firms in metropolitan areas tend to earn the highest wages.


The median wage in 2016 for Receptionists and Information Clerks in California is $30,209 annually, or $14.52 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Most employers offer paid sick leave, vacation, retirement plans, and medical and dental benefits. Some provide life insurance and vision care plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment of Receptionists and Information Clerks will increase due to the rapid growth in service-providing industries, such as physicians’ offices, law firms, and temporary help agencies. In addition, turnover in this large occupation will create numerous openings as Receptionists and Information Clerks transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force altogether. The increased use of technology has caused a consolidation of clerical responsibilities and a growing demand for workers with diverse clerical and technical skills. Because Receptionists and Information Clerks may perform a wide variety of clerical tasks, they should continue to be in demand. They perform many tasks that are interpersonal in nature and are not easily automated thus ensuring the continued demand for their services in a variety of establishments.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Receptionists and Information Clerks is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Receptionists and Information Clerks are expected to increase by 13.1 percent, or 13,100 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Receptionists and Information Clerks
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 1,310 new job openings per year is expected for Receptionists and Information Clerks, plus an additional 2,690 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 4,000 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Receptionists and Information Clerks
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

The job of Receptionist and Information Clerk usually requires a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate or bachelors degree may be needed. Applicants should be able to type 40 or more words per minute accurately; operate computers, calculators, copy and fax machines; and answer telephones.

Many schools and colleges offer training in the skills required for clerical occupations. Some schools give certificates or diplomas to those who satisfactorily complete training programs. Students can sometimes gain experience by working part-time as office Receptionists or Information Clerks. Cooperative work-study programs in high schools and community colleges that allow students to work while attending school typically provide excellent opportunities that may lead to full-time jobs after graduation.

Receptionists and Information Clerks are given on-the-job training by employers regardless of educational preparation because each business has its own policies and procedures to be followed in reception and clerical operations. On the job, they generally learn how to operate the telephone system and computers. They also learn the proper procedures for greeting visitors and for distributing mail, faxes, and parcels. Training can last a few hours, days, or weeks.


Receptionists and Information Clerks generally receive on-the-job training. However, employers often look for applicants who already possess certain skills, such as prior computer experience or answering telephones. Some employers also may prefer some formal office education or training.

Early Career Planning

Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have completed classes in English, grammar, spelling, and business mathematics. Clerical jobs held while in school and during vacations provide good experience and often lead to full-time employment after graduation.

Work Study Programs

California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). One such program is titled Administrative Support. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.


Receptionists and Information Clerks may hold one or several certificates such as the Typing Speed and Accuracy Certification, MS Office Fundamentals, Office Procedures, or Shorthand to name a few. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: General Office Occupations and Clerical Services; Health Unit Coordinator/Ward Clerk; Medical Reception/Receptionist; and Receptionist.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Receptionists and Information Clerks are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Offices of Physicians 15.0%
Personal Care Services 6.7%
Offices of Dentists 6.6%
Employment Services 4.2%
Other Professional & Technical Services 4.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Persons interested in government employment should apply at federal, State, city, and county personnel offices. Many schools operate job placement centers for their students. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers and trade publications.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Receptionists and Information Clerks.

  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Employment Agencies
  • Government Offices
  • Personal Care Services
  • Attorneys’ Support and Service Bureaus

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotional opportunities for Receptionists are often limited. Advancement for Receptionists generally comes about either by transferring to a position with more complex responsibilities or by being promoted to a supervisory position. Receptionists with especially strong computer skills may advance to a better-paying job as a secretary or an administrative assistant. Receptionists in dental or medical facilities can sometimes learn the duties of dental or medical assistants and move into these positions. Larger employers may offer more promotional opportunities.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Receptionists and Information Clerks with links to more information.

Interviewers, Except Eligibility and LoanProfile
Office Clerks, GeneralGuide
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel ClerksProfile
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and ExecutiveGuide
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering ServiceProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification43-4171
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Receptionists and Information Clerks43-4171.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CES
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Health Unit Coordinator/Ward Clerk 510703
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Health Facility Unit Coordinator120830