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How to Become a Medical Receptionist

What Does a Medical Receptionist Do?

medical receptionist at front desk

A medical receptionist is an integral part of a high functioning healthcare team. Doctors, nurses, and other medical and administrative staff members rely on the medical receptionist to create a friendly, welcoming and well-organized front office for patients and to facilitate their flow through the facility.

The daily rhythm of work as a medical receptionist can be summed up in one word –busy! These professionals traditionally perform their duties from a prominently located desk, where they can easily interact with patients, staff, pharmaceutical reps, vendors and others. They are responsible for maintaining a calm and efficient environment for fielding phone calls, answering patient questions, scheduling new and follow-up appointments, registering new patients and updating records.

A medical receptionist is the touchstone for both the staff and patients of a healthcare practice. These professionals are charged with expertly coordinating the day-to-day activities of doctors, nurses and patients to ensure a focus on compassionate care delivered on time.

Workplace Details

Most medical receptionists are employed by doctors’ offices (including dentists), hospitals and long-term care facilities, although some work for outpatient facilities and community clinics. While most positions follow a typical Monday through Friday workday schedule, some may be required to work evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays, particularly when employed by hospitals and other 24-hour care facilities.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$32080
New York
$32450
Florida
$28130
Texas
$26390
New Jersey
$31440

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$23,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 460

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$18,350$26,210$36,190
Huntsville$17,570$23,980$35,060

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$31,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$20,180$32,820$45,340
Fairbanks$25,400$31,210$46,230

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$26,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 690

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$18,820$27,170$38,170
Tuscon$19,390$25,960$35,210

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$22,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$17,260$22,890$32,240
Fort Smith$17,180$23,890$34,960

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$29,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,000

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$19,980$28,660$44,650
San Francisco Bay$23,200$34,600$52,140
San Diego$20,700$30,300$39,310
Sacramento$19,580$29,310$47,510

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$29,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $42,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,050

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$20,490$30,560$46,240
Colorado Springs$20,830$28,130$38,500

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$32,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 460

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$24,400$33,720$46,670
Bridgeport$24,450$33,390$49,390
New Haven$20,650$29,790$49,060

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$24,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$18,840$25,710$37,560
Dover$17,840$22,410$31,520

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$33,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$19,130$29,970$46,000

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$26,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 3,670

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$19,810$27,140$38,030
Orlando$19,080$26,360$36,380
Tampa$18,680$26,170$36,230
Jacksonville$18,780$26,560$36,540

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$26,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,670

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$18,640$28,380$43,100
Augusta$17,410$24,390$37,120

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$29,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$19,350$28,850$42,930

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$26,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$18,400$26,570$35,890
Idaho Falls$16,870$23,390$33,640

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$27,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $41,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$19,940$28,490$43,610
Rockford$18,560$25,840$39,290

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$26,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 620

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$19,610$27,440$38,860
South Bend$18,460$26,090$35,860
Fort Wayne$18,470$26,550$39,980

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$27,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$19,790$28,490$38,660
Cedar Rapids$18,180$28,660$40,850

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$25,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 350

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$17,520$25,120$35,480
Kansas City$19,130$28,190$41,200

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$24,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 840

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$19,380$27,380$36,950
Lexington$18,050$25,900$37,890

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$22,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 500

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$18,090$24,380$35,870
Baton Rouge$16,840$22,900$35,580
Lafayette$17,030$22,730$30,750

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$28,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 0%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$21,490$31,050$39,560
Lewiston$18,540$25,880$36,320

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$26,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 890

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$18,270$27,080$38,220
Frederick$18,090$27,500$41,620

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$30,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 650

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$21,460$32,970$47,140
Worcester$20,050$31,110$44,610
Springfield$19,970$28,570$41,180

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$27,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$18,830$26,780$38,180
Grand Rapids$19,670$28,850$40,970

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$28,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 650

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$19,700$29,930$40,030
Rochester$17,840$25,350$37,870

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$24,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$18,320$26,800$38,760
Gulfport$18,120$25,830$35,780

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$24,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 500

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$17,900$24,910$36,240
Kansas City$19,130$28,190$41,200

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$27,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$21,600$28,280$39,140
Missoula$18,210$26,730$38,290

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$26,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$18,710$27,120$38,260
Lincoln$18,820$25,450$36,020

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$27,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 420

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$19,870$26,690$37,070
Reno$20,340$28,240$40,910

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$19,160$29,670$39,720
Nashua$17,040$24,330$37,740

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$29,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $41,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,010

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$20,790$31,820$44,690
Trenton$21,110$32,080$45,440

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$24,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$18,860$25,150$37,390
Las Cruces$16,920$20,930$27,910

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$29,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$20,300$29,740$45,130
Buffalo$19,610$28,310$41,290
Rochester$20,010$26,790$37,980
Albany$21,650$29,870$42,450

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$26,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$18,720$27,590$39,230
Raleigh$17,940$27,560$38,690
Greensboro$19,160$27,710$39,030
Winston - Salem$18,400$26,660$36,590

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$26,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$17,310$26,430$36,250
Bismarck$19,720$26,700$39,300

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$24,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 860

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$18,110$24,250$36,290
Columbus$18,690$24,630$37,430
Cincinnati$18,630$25,840$36,640
Dayton$18,460$24,090$33,430

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$25,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$17,690$25,150$35,670
Tulsa$19,640$27,300$37,030

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$27,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$21,120$28,480$40,320
Salem$20,460$27,890$38,000

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$26,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$18,550$27,390$39,170
Pittsburgh$18,310$25,870$36,040
Harrisburg$20,110$27,260$37,070
Allentown$20,200$28,050$38,510

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$29,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $43,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$20,180$29,180$42,150

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$26,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 500

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$17,920$25,810$36,370
Columbia$18,120$25,940$38,300
Charleston$19,530$27,520$38,420

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$24,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$19,620$26,070$35,170
Rapid City$19,320$24,380$31,080

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$26,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 930

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$19,080$28,600$38,670
Memphis$18,140$26,260$35,400
Knoxville$18,640$26,030$36,740
Chattanooga$17,960$24,350$31,620

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$25,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$18,160$26,100$38,300
Houston$18,740$27,070$37,990
San Antonio$17,250$24,140$35,020
Austin$20,110$26,920$37,720

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$24,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 560

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$19,360$26,230$36,790
Ogden$17,170$23,580$32,860

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: -1%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$22,160$31,020$42,570

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$27,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $40,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$17,520$25,420$36,590
Richmond$18,580$27,940$38,670

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$30,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $43,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,090

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$22,570$31,940$45,710
Spokane$20,830$27,680$39,580

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$22,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 0%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$17,670$23,160$34,030
Charleston$18,170$25,490$35,840

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$26,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 580

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$19,590$27,650$38,870
Madison$18,190$27,750$38,080

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$27,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$19,920$27,900$36,610
Casper$20,980$27,420$35,280

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for medical receptionists is $28,430. Salaries range from about $19,070 to $39,350 or more per year; those figures are the median salaries for the bottom 10% and top 10% of earners. Physicians’ and dentists’ offices pay slightly above that mean; in doctors’ offices – the setting with the highest employment of receptionists – medical receptionists make on average $29,450 per year. Cross-trained medical receptionists typically earn more, depending on their experience and where they work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that medical receptionists can expect a job growth rate of 10% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than average growth.

In line with these statistics, most jobs are expected to be in medical offices, dental offices and community healthcare facilities for aging Americans. While technology will continue to pervade the medical practice, it is not expected that the need for medical receptionists will decrease, as their greatest asset is the ability to serve patients with dignity and respect.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$29740 Per Year

$14.29 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$28660 Per Year

$13.77 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Medical Receptionist

1

Earn a high school diploma.

An entry-level medical receptionist is required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

2

Attain formal training.

In some instances, employers may provide or require more formal training to meet their hiring criteria. Additional training may include classes in medical terminology, medical software, medical office procedures, coding, medical ethics, and others, which are available through a wide range of educators, both online and in the classroom.

Show Me Schools »

Certificate programs are available at many schools and require less than a year typically. Employers certainly prefer applicants who have already been trained, but since you may be able to receive the training through your employer, you may want to assess the local job climate first. That will help you determine whether you need to gain the competitive advantage through a certificate program prior to applying for jobs.

There is a growing trend in many healthcare settings to cross-train medical assistants as medical receptionists, combining office tasks with patient care duties.

3

Acquire on-the-job training.

Most medical receptionists will learn how to perform their duties by working with an experienced member of the office staff during their first few weeks on the job. During this period, you will receive training specific to your employer’s policies and important institutional procedures, particularly those dealing with patient health information (PHI) and patient confidentiality.

4

Become licensed as a medical assistant if applicable.

There are no licensure or certification requirements to work as a medical receptionist; however, those who also serve as medical assistants may be licensed by a number of certifying bodies, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants and the National Center for Competency Testing. This level of certification may require you to complete continuing education units (CEUs) and scheduled examinations to maintain licensure.

5

Consider advancement opportunities.

Medical receptionists are commonly moved into supervisory positions as they become more skilled in office procedures and patient care. Advancement can also depend on the career path and education they choose to pursue while in their current jobs. For example, augmenting your education with medical-related courses and obtaining a degree and/or license may open doors to positions such as medical secretary or administrative assistant. These jobs generally include greater levels of responsibility such as formulating reports, organizing conferences or helping physicians with complex documentation.

Obtaining a business degree can help a medical receptionist advance to high-level administrative positions, such as medical practice manager or healthcare executive. Others may prefer to steer their career toward more patient care and subsequently pursue other branches of clinical healthcare as a medical assistant or nurse.

Explore Degree Paths

Some medical receptionists still enter the field with little or no formal training. Instead, they learn on the job from experienced coworkers.

If you plan to take this route, it’s important to gain a solid foundation in computer skills during high school. Take as many classes as you can in word processing, spreadsheets and business software. Coursework in anatomy and medical terminology can also be helpful. Finally, work experience in an office setting can show employers you’ve got what it takes when it comes to landing that all-important first job.

Already graduated? You can strengthen your job application by taking computer, business, and allied health courses at a local community college.

CERTIFICATE OR DIPLOMA PROGRAM

6 months-1 year

Many vocational and technical schools offer diploma and certificate programs in medical office administration. These programs should provide you with a firm foundation in billing, coding, anatomy, and health information technology, often in as little as 7–8 months. This allows you to hit the ground running at your first job, which may be a big plus for potential employers.

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On the other hand, diploma and certificate programs can require quite an investment of time and money, and they may not count toward a degree if you decide to seek one later. Before enrolling, do some research and find out:

  • Do employers in my area require a diploma or certificate?
  • Which programs do employers recommend?
  • Will my credits transfer if I decide to pursue a degree later?
  • What’s the most cost-effective option? (Public community colleges often cost significantly less and are better regulated than for-profit career schools.)

If you do decide to pursue a diploma or a certificate, here are just a few of the courses you might take:

Medical office applications

Learn about the many computer programs you’ll use in order to manage patient info, schedule appointments, transcribe physician notes, and bill for services.

Medical anatomy, physiology, and terminology

Gain the vocabulary and scientific knowledge you’ll need to work with medical records.

Medical billing and coding

Practice accurately documenting healthcare services so that the business can receive payment from insurers.

Medical law and ethics

Understand your obligations to patients, including privacy, confidentiality, and addressing compliance issues at the office.

Many diploma and certificate programs also include supervised work experience in the form of an externship.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

Students who want more in-depth training in medical office administration might consider obtaining an associate’s degree in the field. These programs take 18 months to two years to complete and allow you to round out your education with elective courses in your areas of interest. Some associate degree programs also prepare you for billing and coding certifications that can make you a more competitive job candidate.

As with diplomas and certificates, associate degree programs vary widely in their overall quality. Before committing, it’s important to research which programs are respected by employers in your area. If you think you might continue your education in the future, look for a program where some or all of your credits can be applied to your next degree.

Some coursework you may encounter at the associate level:

Principles of accounting

An overview of the financial record keeping and auditing that’s crucial to the success of every business.

Interpersonal psychology

Study human interactions so you can more effectively serve patients and collaborate with colleagues.

Medical office simulation

Practice addressing common medical office issues by roleplaying with fellow students and instructors.

Keys to Success as a Medical Receptionist

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Professionalism and patience

The medical receptionist is usually the first representative of a medical office encountered by patients and visitors, whether on the phone, online or in person. Receptionists must have experience interacting with a wide range of personality types in both pleasant and difficult circumstances.

Strong customer service skills

Because they work so closely with the public, they must have a warm, welcoming demeanor, along with excellent customer service and communication skills. Receptionists must serve patients with poise and compassion, as they represent the entire practice every time they interact with a patient.

Attention to detail

They need to be highly organized and detail oriented to ensure that daily administrative tasks don’t fall through the cracks.

Ability to manage stress

It is imperative that the medical receptionist is able to handle a high level of stress and activity while managing fast-paced office duties.

Knowledge of the latest technology

Finally, with technology becoming more and more prevalent in the physicians’ office, employers often seek out medical receptionists who are computer savvy and familiar with software used in healthcare settings.

Additional Credentials

Many medical receptionists seek additional credentials and certifications in their area of interest. Once again, these credentials can be quite expensive to obtain, so it’s worth researching which ones local employers value most. Some options include:

  • American Medical Technologists offers the CMAS (Certified Medical Administrative Specialist) credential for medical receptionists with documented education and/or work experience who pass a knowledge exam covering insurance practices, information technology, and office management
  • Medical billing certifications, such as the CMRS (Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist) administered by the American Medical Billing Association demonstrate knowledge of best practices and ethics
  • Coding certifications, such as CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) by AHIMA and CPC (Certified Professional Coder) by AAPC show you know the basics of medical documentation. Many advanced and specialty coding certifications are also available.
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