Online Schools for Receptionists: How to Choose

When potential customers walk into an office, typically the first person they see after walking in the door is the receptionist. Whether a receptionist works in a manufacturing business, medical practice or legal office, he or she usually needs training beyond a high school diploma. Some receptionists have completed certificate programs that are offered partially or completely online by 2-year schools.

How to Select an Online Receptionist School


  • Area of focus
  • Program delivery and internship options
  • Tuition, fees and financial aid

Area of Focus

The most common type of receptionist certificates are offered in general, medical and legal reception. Students interested in working in a doctor's office may be interested in applying to a medical receptionist program. Those interested in working in a law office may want to apply to a legal receptionist program. Medical and legal reception programs are more common than general reception programs. These programs typically take a year or less.

Program Delivery and Internship Options

Students enrolled in online reception certificate programs access coursework and communicate with professors and other students through the Internet. This is commonly accomplished through online course management programs. Some of these certificate programs are hybrid programs, requiring both online and classroom training. In some cases, students may be required to complete internships that cannot be conducted online.

Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid

Some schools that offer a receptionist certificate charge tuition per credit hour, while others set one fee for the entire program. Additional fees may apply to online courses. Schools also commonly charge for books, registration or exam proctoring. Some, though not all, schools offer financial aid for this type of program.

List of Online Receptionist Programs

Online Receptionist Certificate

Coursework usually includes practice using common computer programs for document and spreadsheet preparation. Some online receptionist programs offer students instruction on workplace issues like sexual harassment, business etiquette and performance reviews or guidance with career skills like resume preparation. Students learn typical office skills in this program, such as:

  • Data entry
  • Filing
  • Appointment setting

Online Medical Receptionist Certificate

Some online medical receptionist programs require students to complete onsite internships at approved locations. Internship activities are performed under the supervision and guidance of working medical receptionists or other office management personnel. Interns in medical reception programs often practice skills like telephone work, appointment setting, insurance billing and coding, medical transcription and relevant office procedures specific to medical settings.

In addition to typical reception skills that include interacting with patients by phone and in person, students in a medical receptionist program gain skills in:

  • Medical terminology
  • Medical transcription
  • Oral and written communication
  • Updating computerized information and records

Online Legal Receptionist Certificate

Some legal receptionists need training beyond general office skills, specific to the duties that may be required in a legal office. Students in a legal receptionist program discuss common legal terms and office procedures specific to law offices. This program can be conducted completely online or as a hybrid program that requires some on-campus work. Lessons include:

  • Handling legal forms
  • Records management
  • Retention of records

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