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Data Processing: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in data processing. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary.

What Is a Data Processor?

Data processors are professionals who enter information into a computer program for easy assimilation of information. Various industries--such as banking, telemarketing, and customer service--employ data processors. Data entry keyers, a subfield of data processors, are responsible for a variety of tasks, including verifying the accuracy of data, entering the data into a specific program, and sorting the data as needed. Another subfield of data processors is word processors and typists. While they share some similarities with data entry keyers, word processors and typists typically work from a rough draft -- either in written or dictated form -- and then convert the draft into a final document. These individuals require a keen eye for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

For a quick overview of this career field and job options, take a look at the chart below.

Data Entry KeyersWord Processors and Typists
Degree RequiredHigh school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Training RequiredModerate on-the-job trainingShort term on-the-job training
Key ResponsibilitiesEnter and validate data, prepare text for print Create reports, forms and other documents using a computer or other word processor
Job Growth (2018-2028)-23%* -34%*
Median Salary (2018) $32,170*$39,750*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Data Processing Job Like?

If you took a job in data processing, also known as data entry or information processing, you may find yourself working in an office or even from your home. Data processing jobs involve entering information into a computer system, checking data for accuracy and performing other office administrative tasks. The type of information can involve medical records, customer account details and membership lists, to name a few. Current technology allows many data processing workers to work from home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

A college education often isn't necessary for those working in this field, according to the BLS. Good keyboarding skills and office experience are helpful, so those wishing to enter the field may want to seek out this training in high school. If you are interested in a college degree, community colleges offer associate's degree programs that may appeal to you. Associate's degree programs in business administration or administrative assistant often include training in accounting, computer programs and secretarial skills along with keyboarding and data processing. These last approximately two years. You can also find certificate programs in business data processing that run one year or less; they can be completed on their own or counted toward an associate's degree program.

How Is the Pay?

The median salary for data entry keyers was $32,170 as of May 2018, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov). For word processors and typists, the median salary was $39,750 during the same time period. PayScale.com reported as of November 2019 that the annual salary for the 10th to 90th percentile of data processing managers ranged between $37,000 and $103,000.

How Can I Advance in My Career?

Earning a degree alongside work experience could help you move up the career ladder. To advance, you may wish to pursue a 4-year bachelor's degree in business administration to gain advanced professional skills, which may make you more valuable in employers' eyes. This can also help you embark upon and manage a freelance career, if you so choose. Transcriptionists, who also utilize typing skills and may have greater earning potential as medical or legal specialists, require formal postsecondary schooling.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers for data entry keyers might be in the fields of bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerks. These careers require some postsecondary training, but a degree may not be necessary. You would be busy recording financial information, updating statements, and checking records for accuracy. An alternative position for a word processor could be a secretary or administrative assistant. You would be in charge of administrative duties such as organizing files, scheduling appointments, preparing documents or other staff support. These positions may need some college with additional on-the-job training.