A front desk attendant performs clerical duties and greets customers for a company. Front desk attendants work in nearly every type of industry and handle multiple tasks. Besides greeting customers or clients who enter an establishment, front desk attendants answer phones, take messages, forward mail, respond to email and fax documents.
Front desk attendants manage an array of responsibilities that can change on a daily basis. They are the first person seen by someone entering the building, and have to point the patron in the right direction. They keep track of appointments for supervisors and make supervisors aware of when a patient or customer has arrived. Many are supplied with intercom systems or direct telephone lines to assist with this process.
Front desk attendants must be courteous, professional, organized and possess exceptional communication skills. Most need to be strong typists with a basic computer skills and an understanding of how to operate the phone system. Other needed skills normally include math (for light bookkeeping) and spelling, along with an ability to work alone or as a member of a team. Front desk attendants should also be alert and attentive of when patrons arrive.
The majority of front desk attendants need no formal training or education, and can learn while on the job. That said, many are required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Occasionally, front desk attendants will obtain a license or certificate related to office skills, but rarely is certification a requirement. Often, more important than education is an ability to follow instructions and strong customer service skills.
Jobs for office clerks such as front desk attendants were expected to increase steadily for the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of office clerks was projected to grow 12 percent from 2008 2018, adding to the 3 million positions they held in 2008. “Prospects should be best for those who have knowledge of basic computer applications and office machinery--such as computers, fax machines, telephone systems and scanners,” the BLS reported.
Since front desk attendants are occasionally part-time or temporary employees, their overall salaries tend to be low. According to PayScale.com, front desk attendants earned anywhere from $17,000 to nearly $24,000 per year, as of April 2010. Much of those figures depended on the attendant’s experience, industry and overall duties.