What the job involves
Veterinary receptionists provide a front-of-house service to all veterinary clients visiting a practice.
Primarily you will be responsible for greeting patients and their owners when they arrive, and making them feel relaxed and welcome. Other veterinary receptionist duties include answering telephone calls, collecting payments, accepting mail, setting and scheduling appointments and selling items that may be available behind the counter.
Depending on the size of the practice, you might also be responsible for other administrative tasks that keep the practice running day-to-day, for instance ordering office supplies, maintaining client records or sending reminders to patients about appointments.
The important role that receptionists play within a veterinary setting cannot be underestimated. Effective customer service combined with specialist knowledge of the record-keeping systems that support clinical services can make the difference between loyal customers that continue to support your business by sharing their positive experiences with others, and unhappy customers that take their custom elsewhere.
As a veterinary receptionist you will be the first point of contact for every client that visits a practice, and be responsible for most, if not all, external calls made to your organisation. As such you must be a natural communicator and confident engager and understand the needs of both humans and animals alike. You must also be able to remain calm with clients that may become upset or angered, and be empathetic towards situations that will be difficult for pet owners.
Veterinary practices are busy environments that require effective administrators to run efficiently, therefore you should have a methodical working style and be able to effectively prioritise tasks at busy periods. A working knowledge of administrative and record keeping systems is also essential, however training would be provided in the workplace.
Conditions may vary depending on specific job requirements; however you will be based primarily at a desk in a veterinary practice reception. As a full-time veterinary receptionist you could expect to work flexibly to cover evening and weekend shifts where necessary. There are often opportunities for part-time work or job shares.
Qualifications and training
There are usually no specific academic entry requirements needed, however gaining a formal qualification in veterinary reception work, such as the VetSkill Level 2 Certificate for Veterinary Receptionists, will allow you to accumulate industry knowledge alongside the practical experience you will be gaining through your employment.
The following attributes will help to strengthen your application when looking for employment, by showing you are dedicated to the profession and have the basic knowledge needed to facilitate further training:
- Five GCSEs, including maths and English at grades A*-C (or 9-4)
- A basic knowledge of the types of care companion animals require
- Customer service experience
You may wish to look at the following qualifications offered by The College of Animal Welfare:
- Functional Skills in Maths and English
- Level 2 Certificate for Veterinary Receptionists
- Customer Service Practitioner (Level 2 Apprenticeship)
- Customer Service (Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship)
Getting into the profession
Any work experience, veterinary receptionist training or formal qualification will be looked on favourably by employers and will help to set you apart from other applicants during the recruitment process. If you’re looking for your next opportunity there are a number of sources available to you, for example:
- Local newspapers
- The College of Animal Welfare Online Jobs Board
- Recruitment sites such as Indeed, total jobs and monster
You may also be able to gain a veterinary receptionist position through a Business Administration Apprenticeship scheme. You can search for apprenticeship vacancies on the government’s Find an Apprenticeship service.
Salary and benefits
Salaries usually range from £15,000 – £21,000 per year*, depending on your level of responsibility within practice.
Depending on the size of the veterinary practice there may be scope for progression into a supervisory or managerial role over time, such as reception team leader.