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Front Desk Administrator vs. Receptionist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Front desk administrators and receptionists are both customer-facing roles that are responsible for handling customer inquiries, managing schedules and handling office duties. If you’re interested in working in an office environment and enjoy interacting with people, then a career as a front desk administrator or receptionist may be a good fit for you. In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties, skills and qualifications of front desk administrators and receptionists to help you decide which role is right for you.

What is a Front Desk Administrator?

A Front Desk Administrator is responsible for managing the front office of a business. They greet visitors, answer phone calls, manage schedules, and perform other administrative tasks. A Front Desk Administrator must be able to multitask and have excellent customer service skills. They must be organized and able to handle a variety of tasks simultaneously. A Front Desk Administrator is often the first point of contact for a business, so it is important that they be professional and courteous at all times.

What is a Receptionist?

Receptionists are the first point of contact for guests and visitors in an office, business or other professional setting. They are responsible for greeting visitors, answering questions and directing them to the appropriate person or department. Receptionists also manage incoming phone calls, take messages and direct calls to the appropriate person. They may also manage the scheduling of appointments and meetings. In some cases, receptionists may also be responsible for handling basic office duties such as ordering supplies, managing the office budget or coordinating travel arrangements.

Front Desk Administrator vs. Receptionist

Here are the main differences between a front desk administrator and a receptionist.

Job Duties

Front desk administrators have more responsibilities than receptionists. As a front desk administrator, you’re in charge of the entire front desk operation. This includes greeting customers, scheduling appointments and directing visitors to the locations they need to go. You also handle all customer interactions at the front desk, such as answering questions, processing payments and resolving issues.

Receptionists have fewer job duties because they work only at the front desk. They typically greet customers, answer basic questions and direct visitors to other areas in the building. Receptionists don’t process payments or resolve complex issues for customers.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for a front desk administrator and receptionist are generally the same. Both positions require at least a high school diploma, though some employers may prefer candidates with some postsecondary education, such as a certificate in office administration. Additionally, both positions may require basic computer skills, as well as excellent customer service and communication abilities.

Work Environment

Front desk administrators and receptionists work in different environments. Front desk administrators typically work in large, corporate offices where they oversee the entire front desk staff. They may also work for hospitals or other medical facilities to ensure that patients have a positive experience while visiting their facility.

Receptionists usually work in smaller settings such as doctor’s offices, dental clinics or small businesses. While some receptionists work full time, others only work part time or on an as-needed basis.


Both front desk administrators and receptionists need to have strong customer service skills. This includes being able to handle customer inquiries in a professional and courteous manner, providing accurate information and resolving customer complaints in a timely fashion.

Both positions also require excellent organizational skills and the ability to multitask. This is because they often have to juggle multiple tasks at one time, such as answering phone calls, greeting visitors, scheduling appointments and managing paperwork.

Front desk administrators typically need to have stronger computer skills than receptionists. This is because their job duties often involve more data entry and using computers to generate reports or manage schedules. They may also be responsible for handling sensitive information, so they need to have strong attention to detail and be able to maintain confidentiality.

Receptionists tend to have more contact with customers and clients than front desk administrators. As a result, they need to be able to build rapport quickly and have strong people skills. They also need to be able to stay calm under pressure, as they may have to deal with difficult customers or handle a high volume of customer traffic.


The average salary for a front desk administrator is $34,183 per year, while the average salary for a receptionist is $36,790 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has.


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