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Data Entry Operator: Skills, Duties & Responsibilities

If you're thinking about a career as a data entry operator, here's some information to help you get started, including the required skills, the job duties and the salary.

Career Information at a Glance

Data entry operators input data into computers, typically to verify, organize and record it for an employer. You can get a job doing data entry with a high school diploma, though certificate and associate's degree programs are available that can provide training in the necessary computer skills. You'll find more information about the career in the table below.

Education Required High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Typing and organizational skills, attention to detail
Job Outlook (2020-2030) -22% (for data entry keyers)*
Median Salary (2020) $34,440 (for data entry keyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Data Entry Operators Do?

Data entry operators enter information into computers, typically into spreadsheets or company databases. This task could entail entering data from physical paperwork that an employer needs to be digitized, or it could involve compiling digital data for organizational purposes. Examples of data include payroll records, sales figures and customer information - having that information all in one place and easily sortable can mean the difference between organization and complete chaos (and success or failure for a company).

What Education Do You Need to Work as a Data Entry Operator?

This is a field where experience often matters more than a degree. Employers want to see that you can do the job, so some ask that you be able to type a certain number of words per minute and have proficiency with the programs you'd need to use. That said, most employers looking for data entry operators will require at least a high school diploma.

Are There Any Training Programs for the Field?

Data entry professionals who want an advantage in the industry may consider earning an associate's degree. Many community and technical colleges offer programs in administrative office support. Coursework covers topics like basic computer skills, practical accounting, office procedures, typing and math. Students also learn how to use invaluable software programs for the career, including Word, Excel, Acrobat and PowerPoint.

Aspiring data entry operators can also earn a certificate. These programs cover some of the same topics as an associate's degree. The advantage is that they can typically be completed in less time because they don't include general education coursework.

What Skills Do You Need?

Data entry operators require a specific set of skills to be successful in the job. They are deluged by data, so they need to be able to stay focused and organize it all without making mistakes. To process this massive amount of data quickly and efficiently, they also need above-average typing skills and an extraordinary ability to pay attention to details. Of course, humans always make mistakes, so data entry workers must be able to spot those mistakes and do troubleshooting with large sets of data.

How Much Can You Make Doing Data Entry?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data entry keyers made an annual median salary of $34,440 in 2020. The website PayScale.com, which compiles anonymous, self-reported salary data, goes into a little more detail - for entry-level data entry operators the median hourly salary was $14.47 as of May 2021, while operators with more experience made $14.86 per hour.