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Hotel Desk Clerks

At a Glance

  • Work at the front desk in hotels, motels, and resorts
  • Constantly interact with guests
  • May work days, evenings, late night shifts, weekends, and holidays
  • Usually work a set schedule
  • Receive training on the job

Career summary

Hotel desk clerks perform a variety of services for hotel guests.

Hotel and motel desk clerks are also known as front desk clerks or agents.

#checked 2/10/15 lh

Hotel desk clerks work at the front desk in hotels, motels, and resorts. They make advance reservations by telephone and greet guests when they arrive. They check guests in, assign their rooms, and issue room keys.

Duties vary by size of the hotel. Clerks in small hotels give guests directions to their rooms and tell them where to park. In large hotels they give instructions to bellhops who take guests to their rooms. They keep records of room assignments and availability.

Hotel desk clerks assist guests in a variety of other ways. They answer questions about hotel services and policies. They answer questions about local restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and travel. They may arrange taxis or tours for guests.

When guests report problems with their rooms, clerks contact housekeeping or maintenance staff to take care of them. They often keep records of complaints and they may refer guests to managers if necessary.

Hotel desk clerks transfer incoming calls to guests' rooms and take messages when they are out. They may sort mail for guests and make sure they receive it. In large hotels, clerks sometimes deposit guests' valuables in the hotel safe.

Hotel desk clerks are responsible for computing guests' bills. When a guest makes a reservation, they arrange how the guest will pay. They post charges to guests' accounts for their rooms, phone calls, and food. When guests check out, clerks prepare the bill, explain charges, and collect payment.

Hotel desk clerks who work in smaller hotels and motels may have additional duties. In some small hotels they are responsible for all front office operations. For example, they may perform bookkeeping and laundry duties.

Related careers

This career is part of the Hospitality and Tourism cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to hotel desk clerks.

Common work activities

Hotel desk clerks perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, hotel desk clerks:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Hotel desk clerks frequently:

It is important for hotel desk clerks to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for hotel desk clerks to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Hotel desk clerks need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study to consider


To work as a hotel desk clerk, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Formal training beyond high school is not required for hotel desk clerks.

On-the-job training

Hotel desk clerks learn their skills on the job. Orientation for hotel desk clerks usually includes an explanation of the job duties. You also receive information about the hotel and its services. You learn your tasks with help from a supervisor or experienced clerk. You also may receive special training on the hotel's computerized reservation and billing system. Training lasts about a month.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer applicants who get along well with people. In addition, a clear speaking voice and professional appearance are often helpful. Most employers require that hotel desk clerks have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Some employers require applicants to have some college or vocational training. A courteous and friendly manner, and a desire to help people are important traits. Employers prefer applicants who are creative and can respond quickly and accurately to situations at work.


Because clerks at small hotels and motels may have a wider variety of duties, knowledge of bookkeeping may be helpful. Opportunities are best for persons willing to work nights and weekends. Some employers look for experience in other customer service areas, such as the travel industry.

Costs to workers

Expenses may include fees for joining a union. Many hotels and motels provide uniforms.

#Took over national content as had comment that employers prefer applicants who can use computers which seems outdated, so deleted that. 5/2/16 cj.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.


Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks (SOC 43-4081)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $11.74 $12.11 $13.18 $14.73 $16.86
Monthly $2,035 $2,099 $2,284 $2,553 $2,922
Yearly $24,420 $25,190 $27,420 $30,640 $35,070
    Bellingham Hourly $12.03 $12.45 $13.47 $14.79 $15.81
Monthly $2,085 $2,158 $2,334 $2,563 $2,740
Yearly $25,020 $25,880 $28,013 $30,756 $32,896
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $11.96 $12.40 $13.31 $14.56 $15.35
Monthly $2,073 $2,149 $2,307 $2,523 $2,660
Yearly $24,889 $25,790 $27,670 $30,273 $31,941
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $8.83 $10.28 $12.29 $13.82 $15.44
Monthly $1,530 $1,782 $2,130 $2,395 $2,676
Yearly $18,356 $21,394 $25,575 $28,737 $32,116
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $11.92 $12.11 $12.50 $13.72 $14.87
Monthly $2,066 $2,099 $2,166 $2,378 $2,577
Yearly $24,789 $25,189 $25,991 $28,518 $30,930
    Longview Hourly $11.90 $12.12 $12.73 $14.32 $15.51
Monthly $2,062 $2,100 $2,206 $2,482 $2,688
Yearly $24,762 $25,202 $26,484 $29,794 $32,264
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $12.06 $12.40 $13.52 $14.98 $16.94
Monthly $2,090 $2,149 $2,343 $2,596 $2,936
Yearly $25,066 $25,802 $28,125 $31,158 $35,229
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $11.95 $12.21 $12.74 $14.23 $15.34
Monthly $2,071 $2,116 $2,208 $2,466 $2,658
Yearly $24,873 $25,398 $26,508 $29,589 $31,925
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $12.25 $12.89 $14.35 $16.03 $18.36
Monthly $2,123 $2,234 $2,487 $2,778 $3,182
Yearly $25,486 $26,812 $29,845 $33,350 $38,183
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $11.98 $12.29 $12.96 $14.58 $15.81
Monthly $2,076 $2,130 $2,246 $2,527 $2,740
Yearly $24,924 $25,563 $26,960 $30,322 $32,902
    Vancouver Hourly $11.16 $12.00 $13.15 $14.69 $16.05
Monthly $1,934 $2,080 $2,279 $2,546 $2,781
Yearly $23,213 $24,972 $27,349 $30,547 $33,380
    Walla Walla Hourly $11.89 $12.05 $12.29 $12.82 $15.53
Monthly $2,061 $2,088 $2,130 $2,222 $2,691
Yearly $24,732 $25,048 $25,574 $26,684 $32,308
    Wenatchee Hourly $11.97 $12.22 $12.89 $14.47 $15.72
Monthly $2,074 $2,118 $2,234 $2,508 $2,724
Yearly $24,896 $25,422 $26,805 $30,113 $32,711
    Yakima Hourly $11.90 $12.08 $12.39 $13.25 $14.68
Monthly $2,062 $2,093 $2,147 $2,296 $2,544
Yearly $24,762 $25,128 $25,785 $27,569 $30,522
United States Hourly $8.70 $9.82 $11.39 $13.50 $16.37
Monthly $1,508 $1,702 $1,974 $2,340 $2,837
Yearly $18,090 $20,430 $23,700 $28,090 $34,040

Clerks who work evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays may receive extra pay for those shifts.

Wages vary widely depending on the location, size, and type of hotel. For example, large luxury hotels generally pay clerks more than small or "budget" hotels. Hotels located in large cities or resort areas generally pay more than those in less populated areas.

Benefits vary by employer. Full-time desk clerks may receive benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Part-time clerks may not receive benefits.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks (SOC 43-4081)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 5,515 13.7% 16.1% 1,070
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 445 15.1% 13.4% 87
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 185 11.9% 8.6% 35
    Benton and Franklin Counties 249 17.3% 15.0% 50
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 284 7.4% 11.9% 50
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 185 9.2% 15.2% 33
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 290 12.4% 14.1% 55
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 766 12.8% 14.6% 146
    King County 1,610 15.7% 19.6% 323
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 313 9.3% 13.8% 57
    Pierce County 386 13.2% 15.2% 75
    Snohomish County 319 10.7% 12.4% 58
    Spokane County 332 14.2% 13.9% 65
United States 265,400 -6.3% 5.2% 41,900

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Growth for this occupation is declining. Automation will reduce the need for desk clerks. Some hotels and motels allow guests to check out by phone or with key drop-off boxes instead of going to the front desk.

Many job openings will occur as people leave the occupation for other jobs. Those with customer service experience will have better prospects.

Other resources

American Hotel and Lodging Association (external link)
1250 I Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Hospitality Careers Online (external link)
UNITE HERE (external link)
275 - 7th Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Washington Hospitality Association (external link)
510 Plum Street SE, Suite 200
Olympia, WA 98501


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster