An encoder is a data-entry job that entails entering various types of data into company databases. This information can be anything from tax statements to medical information to billing details. Encoders often enter data from paper copies, so accuracy and attention to detail are necessary skills.
Data entry is the primary function of an encoder. The ability to work quickly and accurately will enable you to complete data entry efficiently and with as few mistakes as possible. You need an eye for detail and the habit of consistently double-checking your work, as a transposed number or misspelled name could cause major difficulties for other employees and customers later on. You also need a basic understanding of computers and the ability to learn new software quickly, as some employers may have their own operating systems or software that you will be required to use. Your duties may include maintaining digital backups on external drives, servers or discs, and scanning documents in case the originals are ever lost.
You must comply with all confidentiality standards and security policies, as the nature of the position may put you in contact with highly sensitive information, such as canceled checks and sales reports. Organizational skills are critical, as you will maintain files of the original hard copy documents from which you are entering records. Verbal and written communication skills are equally important, as you may need to verify information from sources, which may mean contacting clients.
In most cases, the minimum education required is a high school diploma, but some formal computer training can give you an advantage in applying for a job and help you perform your duties more proficiently once you are hired. Most employers will require a certain word-per-minute typing rate with minimal mistakes to ensure your typing proficiency. Many community colleges offer a two-year associate degree in data entry, which can increase your likelihood of finding employment as an encoder.
As of May 2014, entry-level encoders could expect to make around $9.46 an hour, or $19,680 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that number can increase with experience. Both the industry and the complexity of the work also affect your salary. Experienced encoders working with more complex data can expect to earn as much as $20.68 an hour, or $43,020 annually. The average annual wage of an encoder is $30,130, or $14.48 an hour, says the BLS.
Where to Find Work
Encoders work in nearly every industry. Temp agencies employ more encoders than any other industry, over 31,000 nationwide as of May 2014, according to the BLS. Data processing companies hire encoders for most permanent direct-hire positions, but have only a third of the encoder positions that temp agencies do. Accounting and tax preparation companies hire the most encoders of individual industries, but government agencies, medical laboratories, elementary and secondary schools, transportation companies and more also hire encoders. When you're looking for a job, try to find a company that hires its own encoders rather than using data processing companies.