What Does it Cost to Hire a Full-Time Receptionist?


A receptionist is a valuable asset for any business. They can be the face of the company, tend to the front lines of customer service, and ensure that calls and messages never go unanswered, even if you’re busy doing other things. There’s a lot of value to be had in a receptionist, no matter how you put them to work. Part of your hiring decision, of course, will be based on how much it’s going to cost to add a receptionist to your team. 

The modern receptionist is more of a Jack-of-all-trades of the front office, rather than just being someone who answers calls and takes messages. They are trained and experienced in several areas of administration and communications and will be able to help keep your business organized and keep clients, vendors, and others satisfied when they contact your company. There are several types of receptionists, including employees, contract workers, and third-party services that can provide a receptionist on an as-needed or contract basis. 

If you think that you’ve got a bigger need, you’ll want to look into hiring a full-time receptionist. Doing that requires that you consider several factors in your budget to make sure that you can afford this investment. It isn’t a difficult process; it just takes a little bit of time and research. Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you. 

Here's what you need to know. 

Priority one: think of this as an investment

The first mistake that people make when it comes to considering the cost of an employee is that they look at it as an expense. An expense is something that you get no return on, though. Hiring a receptionist, especially, is going to offer a huge return when you do it correctly. Therefore, as you’re making your budgets and doing your research, get into the mindset that this is an investment in your business, no matter how you go about it. 

In making the right investment, there’s a lot that you’ll want to consider. Some aspects may be specific to your business—feel free to add those to your list at any time. The factors that we talk about here, however, will be general considerations that anyone should know when it comes to hiring a receptionist (or any other employee, for that matter). 

Priority two: define what you want from a receptionist 

Ok, so now that you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s time to figure out just what you want from a receptionist. This role can include several different tasks and responsibilities:

  • Answering, screening, routing, and otherwise managing phone calls
  • Greeting visitors in the physical business (where relevant)
  • Filing and maintaining the physical and virtual office space
  • Sending and responding to emails, social media messages, etc. 
  • Creating content and correspondence for newsletters, memos, your website, etc. 
  • Collect, sort, distribute, and otherwise manage shipping and mailing
  • Handle basic accounting, payment collection, travel arrangements, etc. 
  • Manage schedules and scheduling

When you hire the right people or choose the right solutions, you can even find temporary receptionist services, after-hours solutions, and more. Ultimately, it’s about what you want from this role. Define that, then go out and find it. 

Now, let’s talk about how to figure out your budget for this investment. 

Factors involved in determining the cost of hiring a receptionist 

To help you get a better idea of what you’ll spend on this investment, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest expenses involved in adding an employee to your company. There are several different variables so we can’t provide exact numbers, but we can help guide you in the right direction. If you want to get a better idea of how much you’ll spend on hiring a receptionist before you start looking, consider the following. 

Sourcing and onboarding

How much are you spending on posting wanted ads, interviewing candidates, screening and doing background checks, and so forth? If you’re hiring your first employee and not sure how much these things cost, you can do some research to find out. You can also use free resources, like your website or social media pages, to share job listings without having to pay. However, there is something to be said for using online job boards. You’ll just have to think about your budget and what you want to spend here. 

Training costs

Research shows that companies spend an average of around $4,000 to train a single employee that’s hired at a salary of $15 per hour. That’s about six weeks’ worth of their pay, and then you still have to pay their salary, benefits, and other expenses. You might be able to get off cheaper here—some companies spend far less on training by doing things remotely or using more cost-effective training solutions, but it’s going to cost you a little bit of money to get people on board and up to speed, even in the role of receptionist. 

Salary and benefits

As we mentioned, this is going to be the bulk of your expense for the long term. The average receptionist in the U.S. earns between $11 and $14 per hour at the entry level, with those who have more experience or specialty expertise (such as legal receptionists, etc.) earning at the higher end of the range. Some receptionists earn as much as $18-$20 per hour for their efforts, depending again on their position, experience, and what type of company they work for. 

You will also have to consider the benefits that you offer to provide for employees. Health insurance, 401(k) contributions, paid time off, and even lunches that you provide will all impact what you spend on “perks” for your employees. Of course, this is a great investment that creates a strong company culture, so don’t skimp here. Just be aware of the costs involved when considering adding a receptionist to your payroll. 

Overhead, equipment expenses, etc. 

If you’re hiring an in-house receptionist, you’ll have a lot of different expenses to consider: their desk and office space, computer and other technology, office supplies, etc. If you provide lunches or other in-office perks, you’ll have to add those in, as well. Even when you hire remotely, you may still incur some expenses here for providing technology or technology allowances, office space funds, and so forth. One way to avoid these costs altogether is to outsource to a third-party virtual receptionist service (but more on that later). 

Ongoing training and support 

As discussed in the first training section, you’re going to have to continue to train and support your receptionist and other employees over time. This will cost money and should be factored into your budget. That way, you aren’t surprised when expenses come up down the road or you don’t make an investment that you truly can’t afford. You can generally expect to spend about a week’s worth of time training and updating employees over the course of a year, so make sure you consider that in your budget for hiring, too. 

Ultimately, you’ll end up with two categories of expenses here: immediate and ongoing. Make sure that you have a budget for both because they are separate, but equally important, in hiring employees. And don’t forget to add in things like insurance, payroll taxes, and other costs. A receptionist typically won’t have costs for uniforms or things like personal protective equipment (PPE), but in today’s world that could include masks, gloves, etc. If it’s relevant, add it to your budget. 

The cost of opportunity

A lot of people are reading this going, “What do you mean?!??”

Allow us to explain. When you hire an employee, you are taking a chance that they are the right fit for the job. If you hire a bad fit, you’ll probably spend a decent amount of money before you realize it. Hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of dollars on training and onboarding, only to have someone who doesn’t suit your needs. It’s sad, but it happens all too often. 

This could result in frustrated customers that are waiting too long for answers or vendors who are confused about what their next move is in your working relationship because they can’t reach you. While you can’t put a price on these things, you can give them a name: opportunities. For every opportunity that you lose, you’re costing your business a client, a sale, a new supplier, or some other asset. 

Assets translate to money. The more assets you have, the more profitable your business will be. The more money you spend on lost opportunities, the less you’ll have to dedicate to the resources that you need. Thus, hiring a receptionist can have a seriously impactful cost that many businesses don’t even consider in their budgeting. 

Although it’s not a hard and fast number we’re talking about, it is perhaps one of the most important costs to consider for any investment in your business. 

What about outsourcing?

Today, the Internet has created a world where people have far more options for their business needs, including when it comes to hiring employees. This is an opportunity to get more for your money, for starters. It’s also going to give you access to better talent than you’ll find locally. If you aren’t tethered to the idea of hiring a receptionist as part of your payroll, consider the pros and cons of outsourcing, whether you hire a remote consultant or receptionist or if you use a virtual receptionist service. 

Outsourcing is ideal for those who:

  • Need help, but can’t afford the overhead or even just the expense of hiring an employee
  • Might need more solutions than a single person can offer
  • Are maxed out on their own capacities and still need more resources
  • Need more innovative or specialized solutions

While hiring is great, it’s not always the best option for every business. When you’re growing too quickly but you’re not in a place to add a full-time employee, or even when you’re growing too fast and need more than an in-house employee can offer, hiring by outsourcing is often a much better choice. 

The best part of outsourcing is probably that you can get such dynamic solutions for your business without having to spend a small fortune. You’ll be able to get access to a lot more services and features than you expect, and you’ll never have to worry about managing an employee, training someone, or paying for benefits and other employee costs. 

The Internet makes it easy for you to find the best talent for every aspect of your business. That includes finding a receptionist that you can rely on to deliver all of the solutions that you need. When hiring isn’t feasible or just doesn’t deliver the answers that you need, consider this alternative. You can streamline tasks, get more done in less time, and give your business a more professional image, plus so much more. Plus, you can even outsource specific tasks or projects without having to give it all up to someone else, which makes this the ideal solution in many cases. 

Speaking of outsourcing, save time, resources, and stress when you partner with Smith.ai instead

If you want a better way to handle the receptionist duties in your business, consider outsourcing to a third-party virtual receptionist like the dedicated team at Smith.ai. Our 24/7 virtual receptionists are available to create a plan that works to fit your exact needs, no matter how big or small they might be. Whether you just need a better solution, or your budget doesn’t have room for a full-time employee, we’ve got you covered. 

You will get a team of dedicated agents to handle after-hours phone calls, live chat, SMS message answering, and even admin tasks like scheduling, lead intake, and payment collection, plus so much more. We can even integrate with your CRM to keep everything streamlined along the way. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can help redefine what this role means to your business. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Virtual Receptionists
24/7 Call Answering
Appointment Booking
Lead Screening
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

Take the faster path to growth.
Get Smith.ai today.

Affordable plans for every budget.

Take the faster path to growth.
Get Smith.ai today.

Affordable plans for every budget.