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Receptionist vs Administrative Assistant: What is the Difference

The backbone of any office is the person who takes the calls, schedules the meetings and makes sure everything is in working order and running on time. Typically, those responsibilities fall to someone with the job title of administrative assistant or receptionist.

Is there a difference between the two jobs, though? If so, how do the responsibilities break down? Let’s take a look.


A receptionist is someone who serves as the internal face of the company, welcoming visitors and guests, interviewing candidates and signing for packages upon delivery. They make people feel comfortable and welcome upon entry, offering a beverage and maybe to take their coats while they wait. They might also handle the phones and take on other responsibilities, including scheduling appointments, sorting mail and some printing work for the office.

Most receptionist roles require a high school diploma or equivalent in addition to proficiency in some basic computer and data entry skills. Someone working as a receptionist can expect a salary in the range of about $30,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Administrative Assistants

An administrative assistant, on the other hand, has a larger role within a company, working directly and closely with managers and other colleagues to support projects and deadlines and help keep things moving efficiently. They coordinate daily responsibilities and administrative duties and are sometimes considered on par with an office manager. While they might have some of the same duties of a receptionist, they also have a leadership role within the office and some higher-level responsibilities, including making travel arrangements, setting agendas for meetings and taking notes during those meetings, drafting memos and corporate correspondence, setting up onboarding procedures and securing equipment for new hires, overseeing expense reports, coordinating team activities, managing office supplies and overall making sure everyone has all they need to do their jobs.

Some administrative assistants have extensive work experience and specialized training — they might help with medical billing duties in a doctor’s office or clinic or help with insurance payments, for example, or be responsible for filing documents in law firms. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says an administrative assistant’s salary can be in the nearly $40,000 per year range.

Many of these tasks can overlap, especially depending on the size and workload of an office. It’s also possible for receptionists to learn new tasks as they spend more time with a company, with the potential of being promoted to an administrative assistant position in time.


Looking for a new career? Sterling Personnel can help you find a new job quickly!

If you’re just starting out in the working world and have some computer skills, a position as a receptionist could be a great career option for you! If you’re established and have a proven record of being organized, are capable of juggling multiple projects at once and are able to keep things running in a friendly manner, the job of an administrative assistant might be right for you.

When you’re ready to pursue a new career, call Sterling Personnel. We can help review your work experience and suggest new positions — even temporary ones so you can try a job on for size before committing. Get in touch with Sterling Personnel today!