How to become a veterinary receptionist
Healthcare careers are a hot ticket these days—but that’s not just human healthcare. The veterinary industry is also growing, with job openings in clinics and facilities that take care of our furry (and aquatic/scaly/feathered) friends. If you find yourself more drawn to animal patients than human patients, then becoming a veterinary receptionist could be a good option for your administrative career.
What does a veterinary receptionist do?
A veterinary receptionist’s job is pretty similar to most receptionist jobs. These administrative professionals may be responsible for being the face of the veterinary office, handling the daily traffic in and out of the practice.
A veterinary receptionist’s day-to-day responsibilities may include:
- Answering phone calls
- Scheduling appointments
- Greeting patients (and their humans)
- Arranging for follow-up care
- Taking patient information
- Updating and filing patient charts
- Assisting with pet supply purchases
- Processing payments and insurance information
- Maintaining the waiting room
Veterinary receptionists often work standard full-time hours, though nights and weekends may be required for emergency vets or animal hospitals that provide round-the-clock care.
What skills do veterinary receptionists need?
Veterinary receptionists need to have a combination of administrative skills and clinical knowledge, since they’re working in a medical environment.
Skill with animals: This is a must, given the nature of the daily work of a veterinary receptionist. You don’t have to love all creatures great and small, but it helps—and being afraid of patients who come through the door can lead to more stress and unhappiness than you would want out of your job.
Skill with people: Yes, animals are the patients, but they almost always come with humans in tow—humans who may be nervous wrecks about their animal family members’ health concerns. Being friendly and customer service-oriented is a very helpful skill for veterinary receptionists to have, even when the focus is on the animals.
Knowledge of medical/veterinary terminology: A veterinary receptionist should be well-versed in the medical terms and general knowledge that is specific to the vet’s office. The receptionist is often taking down preliminary information about a patient’s condition and recording it in a chart, so there needs to be a strong base of knowledge about pet care and animal medical needs.
Organizational skills: Depending on the size of the veterinary practice, the receptionist may be the only front-line defense for the entire office. That means being able to organize all incoming information (like phone calls, messages, appointments, arriving patients, etc.) in a way that helps the practice run smoothly.
Tech-savviness: Like any modern medical practice, a vet’s office increasingly relies on digital technology to make appointments, store patient information, and handle incoming calls. The veterinary receptionist should be able to tackle things like email, digital record management, and digital or multi-line phone systems in order to do the job efficiently.
What do you need to become a veterinary receptionist?
A high school degree is typically sufficient for this job, although some veterinary receptionists also have some schooling or degrees in an administrative or animal-related field. Direct experience working with animals is a major asset if you’re looking for a job in this field.
How much do veterinary receptionists make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, receptionists in general make a median annual salary of $27,920, or $13.42 per hour.
What’s the outlook for veterinary receptionists?
Receptionist jobs in general are expected to grow about 9% by 2026 (about average), per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, healthcare-specific careers, including veterinary roles, are expected to grow at a much faster rate, so this specialty is expected to grow faster than average as well.
One of the best things about a job in the healthcare industry is that you can find a niche for your interests and experience. And if you’ve always liked animals a little more than humans (it’s okay to admit that here!), becoming a veterinary receptionist could be a great way to parlay your administrative skills into a job where you get to greet and pet dogs and cats every day.
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