What Is a Customer Service Specialist?

Research what it takes to become a customer service specialist. Learn about education requirements, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Customer Service degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Customer Service Specialist?

Customer service specialists work in call centers or on site to provide information or sell products and services. Those in this position must be able to take orders and bill customers accurately. They review customer's accounts, take care of returns and handle any complaints. When issues arise, they must report details and refer customers to supervisors when needed.

Take a look at the chart below for an overview of education and training requirements, key skills, job growth and median salary.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent for entry level
Training Required Short on-the-job training that usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks
Key Skills Handle customer inquiries, resolve disputes, inform customers of available products and services
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Median Salary (2015) $15.25 hourly or $31,720 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Customer Service Specialists Do?

Customer service specialists communicate important information about the products and services their employers provide. As a customer service specialist, you'll respond to customer inquiries, guide customers through the purchasing process, make product or service recommendations and resolve complaints or technical concerns. The industry in which you're employed dictates additional or specialized skills that you may need. For example, if you work in the information technology industry, you'll have to provide technical assistance to customers and help them resolve product-related issues. A high school diploma is required for all of these careers.

Where Would I Work?

Virtually every industry and business provides customer service support. Depending on the type of industry you're in, you might work in large call centers or provide support in person. If you work in a call center, you'll have your own work space and equipment. You could also work in a retail, medical or hospitality setting. Many companies offer customer service around the clock, which makes it possible for you to have a flexible work schedule.

What Education Is Required?

In order to qualify for customer service positions, you'll need a high school diploma, at a minimum; however, many positions may require an associate's or bachelor's degree, depending on the industry and employer. Specialized positions, such as finance, hospitality or technology, may require you to complete post-secondary education in a related discipline. Community colleges and universities offer certificate and degree programs that provide a foundation in the following areas:

  • Business
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Sales
  • Service management

In order to be a successful candidate for customer support positions, you must possess solid communication skills, patience, a friendly disposition and a clear speaking voice. You'll also need to have strong problem solving skills and a basic level of proficiency with computers.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The median annual wage for customer service specialists was $31,720 or $15.25 per hour, in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). You could expect your annual earnings to vary depending on the industry in which you work, your geographical location and your employer.

What Are Some Alternative Careers?

Other similar career options include an insurance sales agent, receptionist and a teller. An insurance sales agent sells and explains various insurance options available to consumers. Receptionists answer phones, welcome visitors and help with general information about the organization or company they work for. Tellers perform various banking transactions. They must be able to cash checks, deposit money and collect loan payments.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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