Online Schools for Receptionists: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online receptionist school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, internship opportunities, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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Individuals interested in secretarial and administrative assistant work may find fulfilling careers as receptionists, but these positions often require specialized knowledge and skills. Therefore, a certificate or diploma program can be of great aid if you can find one that meets your financial limits, desired level of experience/interaction and points of interest.

How to Select an Online Receptionist School

Some receptionists have completed certificate programs that are offered partially or completely online by 2-year schools. When choosing an online receptionist program, students should consider the area of focus, whether or not the program is fully or partially online, and the total cost of the program.

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.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Administrative Assistant or Secretary
  • Clerical and General Office
  • Customer Service and Call Center Support
  • Executive Assistant or Secretary
  • Office Technology and Data Entry
  • Receptionist
  • Warehousing and Inventory Management

List of Online Receptionist Programs

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:

  • Professional keyboarding
  • Filing
  • Appointment setting
  • Business communication

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 software applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Oral and written communication
  • Business English

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:

  • Law office management
  • Records management
  • Legal technology introduction
  • Legal terminology and transcription

Schools with Online Programs for Receptionists

If working in a law office compels you, Kaplan University offers a fully online, 31-credit Legal Secretary Certificate program that has several different start dates for increased flexibility. Total tuition for the program is estimated at around $11,500 as of March 2017. Scholarships and grants may help with tuition, and upon completing the program you may potentially transfer your credits into a related associate or bachelor's program.

The 34-credit Medical Receptionist Diploma of Minnesota State Community and Technical College is designed for those students seeking employment in a medical office. This online program teaches a broad range of topics from business communication to record-keeping. Depending on assessment scores, students may also need to enroll in developmental courses for basic subjects like reading and math. Tuition estimates will be determined by course selection.

Accredited certificate and diploma programs are available in the medical, legal and general receptionist fields. Programs that provide financial assistance and hands-on office opportunities may be attractive options. If you want on-site experience, you might focus on hybrid programs with a blend of online and traditional classroom instruction.

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