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How to Become a School Receptionist

Do you want to start a career in administration? Follow our guide to figure out how!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Step 1: Learn about a school receptionist's role and responsibilities

School receptionists can be found at any school or educational institution, and are an integral part of their day-to-day operation. As a school receptionist you’ll be dealing with things like customer service, administration, clerical responsibilities, and secretarial work. The specifics of the job can and will change depending on the institution you work for since every school will have different practices.

Here are some of the responsibilities you’ll likely deal with as a school receptionist:

  • Handling contact with parents, visitors, and students and being able to give them any information that they need about the school like the school’s rules and regulations, information about its day-to-day running, disciplinary measures, and really anything they might want to know about your organisation.
  • You’ll be responsible for keeping records on a wide range of things from visits and phone calls to student registration and you’ll ensure any information about the school is recorded properly. 
  • Utilising IT systems to write letters, emails, reports and newsletters

When you'll be working

As a school receptionist, you’re generally going to be working during your school’s term times but you could be working (usually for shorter periods) outside of term time as well occasionally. 

What does a school receptionist earn?

The starting salary for a school receptionist can be around £17,000 but as an experienced receptionist you could earn up to around £23,398, though your wage could vary depending on the responsibilities that you have at a particular school. The average salary for a school receptionist is around £18,988.

If you want to learn more about what a teaching assistant earns then check out our school receptionist salary page where you can find our breakdown!

How can you progress as a school receptionist?

School administrator career progression

If you want to know how you could progress, take a look at some of our other career advice pages and find out what you’ll need to get where you want to be!

Step 2: Improve your chances of getting a position as a school receptionist

If you’re comfortable with the responsibilities of being a school receptionist, then you’ll need to ensure that you have all of the necessary skills and qualifications for an administrative position and understand what exactly you can do to help yourself get started in that setting.

You’ll need to meet the requirements for the job role, as well as the more specific requirements that many organisations have for their potential employees that can vary from job to job. There are a few things that you can do to improve your chances when you’re looking to enter a career in childcare.

Which qualifications do you need to become a school receptionist?

Even though you won’t need to be highly qualified to get a position as a school receptionist, it’s a good idea to enrol on a Business Administration course. Having this qualification will equip you with the skills that you’ll need to work as receptionist, and you’ll stand out compared to candidates that don’t have relevant qualifications.

You’ll probably need an A* to C grade at GCSE level in English and Maths or equivalent to work as a school receptionist. If you don’t have either one or both of these you should look at taking either a Level 2 Functional Skills English course or Level 2 Functional Skills Maths course. A functional skills qualification is equivalent to having your GCSE qualification at this level, and can help you get into a wide range of jobs.

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Need a little something extra for your CV? Our Level 2 Safeguarding Course will be perfect for you! Get the knowledge you need to excel in a school setting.

Get some supporting qualifications valuable to the job

Though not essential, having supporting qualifications can really improve your chances of getting the position that you want and help you stand out among other applicants. Getting your supporting qualifications will let you demonstrate additional knowledge that other candidates might not have.

There are a number of supporting qualifications that could be helpful while working in a school environment. A safeguarding and prevent course is going to equip you with the knowledge you need to help safeguard the children you’ll be working with. Safeguarding is especially important in an educational setting and employers, as well as parents, are going to feel confident knowing you have the knowledge you need to support the organisation’s safeguarding responsibilities to a higher level.

As a school receptionist you’ll be dealing with a variety of people and issues so it could be a good idea to look at a qualification in equality and diversity or LGBT training

How to get experience as a school receptionist

It will be valuable for you to have experience working as a receptionist or in a business administration position before due to the transferable skills that you’ll be able to bring to the role. 

Being able to demonstrate that you have the skills you’ll need in a role is always useful. You might want to look at a lower-level role such as volunteering as an administrative assistant or finding a similar paid role to build up your knowledge of business administration. Checking out our jobs board is a great way to start searching for the experience you need!

Typical weekly hours

While working as a school receptionist your hours will generally be around 38-40 hours a week.

Step 3: Make sure your CV is up-to-date

You should make sure your CV includes your most up-to-date information, including any relevant qualifications and work experience you might’ve gained since you last updated it. It’s important to present yourself as best you can. We all know first impressions are important, and your CV is more often than not going to be the first thing potential employers will see, so it’s essential that they’re done right.

To make the best impression you can, you’ll need to convey the right information and present it well. Given how important your CV is, we’ve created this guide to help give you the best chance of landing an interview and starting your career as a school receptionist!

Top school receptionist CV writing tips

When you’re looking at a position as a school receptionist, it’s crucial that your CV is high quality and reflects your passion for the role. An effective CV is well presented, displays relevant skills and experience, and gives your potential employers an insight into who you are. 

It’s important that you use grammar correctly, that your writing is concise but informative, and any non-relevant information is left out. Not following these rules could mean your application is rejected, since employers could see it as too unprofessional. Our school receptionist CV writing tips are here to help you to land that position you’ve been waiting for!

1. Grab their attention with a personal profile

Your personal profile is the first section of your CV that employers will read to find out more about you. This is your chance to introduce yourself, sell your skills and outline your characteristics. Personal profiles are a perfect way to persuade recruiters, as it tells them straight off why they should hire you. 

This section can include relevant experience and achievements, but it’s important to tailor this to the job description and what’s prioritised there to show your enthusiasm for the role and that you’re a serious candidate for the position who has what they’re looking for. 

There are no set rules on the length of this section but you should aim for a few short sentences and no longer than 100 words. This way you can keep it concise and effectively highlight who you are to employers without giving them too much information, increasing the chances of them reading through the rest of your CV and considering you for the job. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and presenting the things that you think make yourself stand out.

Talk about yourself (when it's relevant)

Though your CV should be more focused on your skills and work experience rather than your personality, it can be good to include some relevant personal information such as your hobbies in your CV. What counts as relevant will vary from job to job. For a school receptionist job it could be a good idea to mention hobbies or activities that highlight your organisational or people skills. 

2. Sell your skills

There should be a section in your CV that outlines your relevant skills. This makes it easy for the employer to read and more easily determine if you meet the requirements of the role. You should format this section using bullet points so that it’s simple and easy for employers to read. Make sure to include relevant skills that you think make you a good candidate for the position. Such as:

  • Being highly organised and capable of working to a high standard under pressure with excellent attention to detail
  • Outgoing and confident and able to deal with a range of people, comfortable dealing with visitors
  • Confidence when working with a wide variety of information management systems 

If you’re struggling to think of skills that are relevant to the job then it’s a good idea to check vacancy advertisements for some ideas. Start off by rereading the job you’re applying for and what might be useful to mention, but if you’re still stuck then take a look at other similar job postings. You should also think about which of your skills have been helpful in any of your past work or study. 

It’s important when talking about your skills to try and include both hard and soft skills, so that you can show some variety. Hard skills are the skills you gain through experience, knowledge, or learning such as through a qualification or after undertaking training. Soft skills refer to your personal traits and habits that determine how you work, like being an effective communicator, able to work in a team, or organisational skills.

3. Outline your experience

You should outline any past experiences in either work or volunteer positions that are relevant to becoming a school receptionist and can best show your potential employer the value that you’d be bringing to the position. 

The most valuable experience you can have as a school receptionist is working in that position before and is something you should present front and centre, but any experience in an administrative role will be valuable to employers. Give details of where you worked, including the dates you started and finished your employment (these don’t have to be specific, usually the month and year are fine), alongside your key responsibilities within the role. If you have a lot of relevant experience then list it from most to least recent. Employers will want to know more of what you’ve been doing recently, rather than years ago, as it’s more relevant to the jobs you’ll be applying for now.

If you have no relevant experience then you should include any previous employment you’ve been in and the transferable skills you gained that will be useful in the role. Try and think about any similarities between your previous positions and the one you’re applying for. Is there anything listed on the job advertisement that sounds familiar?

4. List your education and qualifications

Making sure you mention your education clearly on your CV is very important, as it will show that you have the knowledge and qualifications needed for the job. When listing your qualifications you should prioritise two things: the level of the qualification (is it a degree or a GCSE?) and when you received it. Much like your experience, it’s best to list your qualifications from your most to least recent.

When you’re listing your qualifications make sure you include the name of the institution, the dates you attended them from, the subject(s) you studied or name of the qualification, as well as the final grade you received. If there’s a particular aspect of your study that is very relevant to the position you’re applying to then it would be a good idea to briefly mention it at some point.

Include your certificates and other qualifications

Don’t think you just need to include your experiences from school or university, things like standalone courses that award you with a certificate or diploma are more than relevant, especially if they cover a subject that’s relevant to your work. Add your certificates in the same way you’d add your other qualifications, providing any additional information as needed.

5. Remember to include your contact details

It might seem obvious, but having your contact details clearly signposted on your CV is extremely important, without them potential employers may have no way to contact you. You should include your up-to-date email, phone number, and address somewhere near the top of your CV so that they don’t get lost amongst the rest of your information.

Example school receptionist CV

School Receptionist CV

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Struggling to put your CV together? Download our free CV template and get a head start on making a fantastic CV. Make sure to follow the rest of our tips and learn how to land that job you’ve always wanted!

Step 4: Search for school receptionist jobs you can apply for

Searching for an administrative position should be simple, and shouldn’t be any different than finding other jobs you’ve applied for. Make sure that the positions you apply for are a good fit for you and that you have all the necessary qualifications and you should have no trouble! Checking out our job board could be a good start for your search.

Step 5: Write a job-specific cover letter

You should write your cover letter using the job description of the vacancy you’re applying for. 

Your cover letter is an important part of many job applications. No matter what kind of job you’re applying for, and is going to help demonstrate to potential employers the passion that you have for the role, and allow you to sell yourself as a valuable candidate that they need to consider hiring.

Top school receptionist cover letter writing tips

Cover letters are your chance to really sell yourself to a prospective employer and progress to the next stage of the hiring process. This opportunity isn’t always fully exploited by candidates, and sometimes cover letters just become reworked CVs or are poorly planned and formatted. Follow our guide if you’re looking to avoid these common pitfalls, and make your cover letter the best it can be!

1. What should a cover letter look like?

The header of your cover letter should have your up-to-date email, contact number, and the current date, as well as the recipient’s contact information. You should start your cover letter with a greeting such as “Dear [Company] Hiring Manager” or “Dear Mr/Ms Surname”, if you know who you’ll be contacting directly.

When choosing your font you need to make sure it’s not only easy to read but also looks professional, as well as the right size. Try to stick between a size 10pt-12pt font on your cover letter, as making your font size too big could come across unprofessionally, but it should still be clear and legible. Make sure to split the main body of text into multiple paragraphs, this not only makes it easier to read but also easier to plan the structure of your cover letter (each paragraph might have a specific topic, for example). 

It’s a good idea to sign off your cover letter using your name and a complimentary close. Using “Yours Sincerely” or “Your Faithfully” are seen as very formal, but can sometimes appear outdated, try using “Kind Regards” as a formal alternative that is still professionally acceptable.

2. What should I write in my cover letter?

Here are some suggestions for each of the paragraphs in your cover letter and what you might want to mention to your prospective employer:

We are interactive boxes, hover over us! 

We are interactive boxes, tap us! 

First paragraph


Start by explaining why you're writing the letter, making sure to mention the job you're interested in by its specific title, you could also mention where you saw or heard about the vacancy. Give a brief sentence stating your experience or a relevant qualification. 

Second paragraph

Experience and Qualifications

Highlight your relevant experience or qualifications. Talk about relevant responsibilities you had in previous roles, and go into more detail about how this makes you suitable for the role--is there a particular achievement you're proud of in your previous work or study that is relevant to the job? Mention it here!

Third paragraph


Discuss the skills you have that are relevant to the job and make sure that you mention how they make you well-suited for the role. Always be showing the employer what you have to offer them if they were to hire you. 

Final paragraph

Final note

Reiterate your interest in the role. Outline your motivations for not only working this type of job but why you want to work for this employer. It's a good idea to include some relevant knowledge about your potential employer, as it shows you are taking an extra interest.  

3. How can I make my cover letter unique for each role I apply for?

A good way of making your cover letter stand out from other candidates is by tailoring it to the particular role you’re applying for. It’s always easiest to look back through the job posting and pick out relevant information like the job title and employer and making sure to mention them early on. This will show your employer that your cover letter is tailored towards them, rather than being something generic you’re sending around to every employer.

When you’re going through the job posting take note of the specific skills and experience listed as desirable by the employer, you can tailor the skills and experience you mention to what they’re looking for. Try not to follow along too closely and risk looking like you’ve just copied the advertisement, but do enough to show that you’re the ideal candidate. Order your skills, experience, and qualifications in order of relevancy–what’s highlighted or mentioned first in the job posting? Is there something very specific that they’re looking for? Make sure you bring it up!

4. Finishing touches

Now that your cover letter is well-formatted, has the main body of it’s content written, and has been tailored to the job role, it’s time to put the finishing touches to your work.

Proofread what you’ve written a few times over to check for punctuation or grammar errors and how well your writing flows. Try and enlist the help of a friend or relative to give it a read over, they may spot something you missed!

Now you should go back to the job vacancy and re-read all of it. Check if there are any special instructions you should follow when applying for the position, like if they’re asking for the documents to be submitted as a particular file type or maybe want you to add a job reference number to your cover letter. Make any of the changes you need and ensure everything’s in order. Overlooking small things like this could ruin your otherwise perfect cover letter!

Example school receptionist cover letter

School receptionist cover letter

Download our Cover Letter Template and Make Yours Today!

Struggling to put your cover letter together? Download our free cover letter template and get a head start on writing an amazing cover letter. Make sure to follow the rest of our tips and learn how to land that job you’ve always wanted!

Step 6: Prepare for interviews

We all know that job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but being well prepared for the interview will help you to appear calmer and more confident. It might seem obvious, but make sure that you always present yourself professionally at interviews, dress well and always be polite. First impressions can make or break your chances!

Interviews can be daunting and hard to prepare for–especially if you don’t have much experience–but we’re here to help.

We’ve compiled a list of common questions that you might be asked in yours and how you might go about answering them, as well as some questions you could ask your interviewer to help show your interest in the position!

Questions your interviewer might ask

Your motivations

This would be a great starting point to talk about why you want the role, and you can lead into talking about your experience and qualifications. Make sure to talk about your personal motivations rather than being too generic, as that might give the impression you’re uninterested in the position. 

It’s good to show you’re somewhat aware of the school you’re applying to work at. You might not have a specific reason you chose that school other than something simple like distance, so it’s important that you do some research and come up with something relevant. By showing a keen interest in the school and demonstrating some knowledge about it you can show the interviewer that you’re invested in working there specifically.

Your personal approach to the role

It’s important when entering work in a busy environment that you let your potential employer know that you’re up to the task. You can give examples from past work experience when you’ve had to handle being busy and the ways you can apply that in a school receptionist’s position. Your examples don’t just have to come from work though, if you’re inexperienced then it’s good to mention times in education or even your personal life where you’ve handled the pressure well. When answering questions using examples the STAR method is a good way to keep your answer short and concise.

Qualifications and experience

You should talk about any qualifications that will be useful for the job here but don’t think you can’t mention other things too. Any knowledge or skills that you think would be relevant in the role should be mentioned here! Demonstrating something useful but outside of the standard or expected skills of a school receptionist could help you stand out. Do you have anything that would help in a school setting in particular? Mention it!

You should talk about any experience you have as a school receptionist or in a similar administrative position. You can demonstrate your knowledge of the job by talking about the duties you’ll be performing and how you’d deal with them. Be sure to understand the differences between a regular receptionist and the duties of a school receptionist so you can be clear on what exactly you’ll be doing in the role.

As a school receptionist you’re going to be using a range of software, so it’d be a good idea to find out what’s in use at the school you’re applying for. It’s great if you’re well-versed in its use already but if not you should try to familiarise yourself with it. If you can’t train in the software you’ll be using on your own beforehand, then make sure your interviewer knows that you’re willing and able to learn whatever you’ll need in the job. 

Questions for you to ask your interviewer

Reading through some of our common questions should help get you in the right headspace for your early years practitioner or nursery nurse interview, but don’t stop here–have a think about what other kinds of questions you could be facing, as well as how you might answer them on your own (an answer that comes from you will always be better than something generic)!

Now let's recap...

Final note

After reading through our guide, you should be ready to embark on a new career in administration with the confidence you need to excel. If you follow our tips then you’ll be more than ready to get the job role you’ve been looking for! Good luck, and if you need any more advice on other career options, don’t forget to take a look through our career advice page

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