Data entry and information processors are responsible for entering data into computer systems and databases. These professionals process orders, enter accounting numbers and update client information, in addition to many other tasks. Information processors and data entry clerks must be able to concentrate and focus, enter data quickly and efficiently and contribute accuracy. When the workload becomes slow or dwindles for entering data, these professionals often are responsible for filing or helping with other office-related or administrative tasks. There are two main types of these professionals, commonly referred to as “data entry keyers” and “word processors and typists.”
According to projections from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, average annual salaries of data entry keyers was $27,150. The middle 50% averaged salaries between $22,270 and $32,370 per year. The 10th percentile earned less than $18,960 on average, while the 90th percentile earned more than $32,290. Natural Gas Distribution companies paid these workers the highest wages, followed by Aerospace Product Manufacturing, Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution, Computer or Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing and Professional, Labor, Political, and other organizations.*
Word processors and typists earned average annual salaries of $32,590, according to 2008 reports from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Of these typists, the middle 50% averaged salaries between $26,930 and $39,330. The 10th percentile earned less than $22,640 annually, while the 90th percentile earned more than $46,690. Natural Gas Distribution companies paid the highest wages, followed by Rail Transportation, Scientific Research and Development Services, Wired Telecommunications Carriers and Legal Services.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Data entry keyers are responsible for inputting data into computer systems. Usually the data is entered into a database. There are many different types of companies who hire these professionals, but the data is generally used for research, statistics, sales or client information tracking. Data entry keyers must sit at a desk most of the day and be able to type accurately and quickly. Typing should be free of errors or include a very low percentage of mistakes. Some positions may be able to be completed from home. Data entry keyers who receive information via the internet or email, or those who research and record, may complete their work at home. Keyers who work from home must be self-motivated and maintain close contact with their employer, communicating important information as it arises.
Word processors and typists usually work in an office. Their duties normally are more expansive than simply entering data into a computer. These professionals are also responsible for preparing reports, typing transcribed materials, editing and revising and working with statistical tables that require a great deal of concentration. Office duties such as filing, mailing letters, answering phones and keeping a calendar or schedule are also responsibilities assigned to many of these workers. Knowledge of databases and spreadsheets, as well as how to manipulate information in an efficient way, is required to be a word processor and typist. Repairs and reformatting are often performed by these professionals, in addition to their regular duties.
Training and Education Requirements
Most data entry clerks are hired with little to no experience. Entry level jobs will require good grammar, spelling and typing skills. Organizational skills, good listening and communication are also important. Employers often train these professionals on the job; after gaining experience, data entry keyers may move on to higher-paying jobs or advance in their company. Some companies who have very sensitive information that must be error-free will often require a data entry keyer to not only provide previous work experience references, but also demonstrate knowledge and skills. This is completed by taking typing tests, sometimes under stressful conditions.
Word processors and typists are usually hired because of previous experience, sometimes as a data entry keyer. Some companies may require these professionals to hold an Associate or Bachelor degree, depending on the nature of the work and how sensitive information is. Companies who require business, accounting or management degrees will designate more duties than typing to these individuals. Such important administrative tasks added to data entry is also compensated by a higher salary, which makes earning a degree a much more valuable and marketable asset in this field of work.
There are several data entry certifications available. These programs are usually found at community colleges, universities or some vocational schools. One of the most common certifications sought is the 10-key entry system, which is an attractive asset to have on a resume. Professionals who plan to pursue a career with an accounting company will find this certification especially helpful. Additional courses in Microsoft Office applications, computer applications or business management are also offered. Upon completion of these programs, certification is awarded to the student.
Very few professional associations exist for the entire network of these professionals. Most data entry clerks and word processors will join associations related to their line of work. For example, a legal data entry clerk would join a law-related association for secretaries. One association that some of these professionals choose to join is The Virtual Assistant Association for Administrative Support. This is designed mostly for professionals in administrative roles.