Data entry clerks usually have a high school diploma or a GED. Be prepared to take a data entry test when you apply for a data entry clerk job. A company or agency will likely measure your speed and accuracy and may test your knowledge of a specific software program or spreadsheet application. When you start a data entry clerk job, you might receive on-the-job training on data entry procedures and custom software programs before you work on your own.
Before typing data from source documents into a computer, a data entry clerk might review the documents to identify incomplete, inconsistent or illegible information. He may ask for help from a supervisor or team leader to determine the correct data to enter, or he may reject documents altogether. Clerks often have to sort and prioritize documents to be entered. To help to identify the data to be entered, some data entry clerks highlight or mark each document before entering data.
Data entry clerks work from source documents to enter information into spreadsheets or computer programs. They quickly and accurately type the data according to the data entry instructions. Clerks may need to insert new records before entering data, delete existing records or type over existing data to update data in the computer. A data entry clerk might need to cross-reference data from multiple source documents when entering data for a single record.
Accuracy is an important consideration in data entry. After entering or updating data, a data entry clerk might run a report to check her own work by comparing the report to the source documents. When data entry clerks work as a team, one clerk may verify the work of another team member by comparing report output or by entering the same data and reviewing whether any results are different.
The data that clerks enter often contain personal or confidential information about individuals, some of which may be protected by laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. Data entry clerks who work in the health-care field must maintain the confidentiality of the data they enter. They must also follow procedures such as clearing their workstations or locking reports in a desk or file cabinet to prevent other people from viewing protected data.