What Is The Difference Between An Administrative Assistant And A Receptionist?

"I have just been accepted as an administrative assistant to the boss of a local food company. This will be my second job right out of high school. I first worked as a receptionist in a hotel resort for a little over a year. I assume that my new job is going to be similar to my old one but I’m not really sure. Is there are difference between an administrative assistant and a receptionist?"

asked by Brianna K. from Edmond, Oklahoma

There are going to be similarities between administrative assistants and receptionists. Both are entirely different occupations that carry different responsibilities. Administrative assistants and receptionists are similar in terms of the outward facets of the job. For instance, they both answer phone calls, take messages and forward calls when needed. They also both handle faxes and mail.

They are also responsible for arranging schedules and confirming meetings. The minimum educational requirement for both positions is simply a high school diploma or its equivalent. Both positions require someone who has great organizational skills and outstanding interpersonal skills.

That’s as far as the similarities go. Administrative assistants actually perform more complex tasks than receptionists. While receptionists only copy and file records and documents, secretaries go a step further by drafting routine memos, billing and editing company correspondence to ensure that these are correct and accurate.

Administrative assistants are often tasked with buying supplies, doing basic bookkeeping and managing the office’s supplies.

Receptionists are often the face of the organization. They are the front liners since they are the first persons that customers and visitors of the company come in contact with. They welcome clients and guests and direct them to where they want to go. In this regard, they hold the responsibility for ensuring that the customers’ first impression of the company is a positive one.

In small firms, the secretary can serve as the receptionist as well but in many cases, administrative assistants are not really the firm’s front line personnel. In bigger firms, those in reception also are responsible for assisting the guards in keeping the place secure. They issue visitor passes and control entry and exit points. This is usually not in the job description of secretaries.

There are different kinds of administrative assistants based on what they do. There are executive administrative assistants for a company’s top management, medical secretaries and legal secretaries. No such distinction exists among receptionists.

Career Spotlight: Administrative Assistant

Join The Discussion - 1 Comment

  1. Joi-Elle says:

    You should do a little research and see what happens at many front desks these days. I am an Administrative Receptionist. I do a whole lot more than you have stated in the profile description. Sadly most out there have the same opinion are wrong. Most of us at the front line should be paid a hell of a lot more. My job is that of an Administrative Assistant, but that’s not what they call me.

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