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On the far right of most standard computer keyboards, you'll see a numeric keypad. It's used for fast and efficient data entry. Master it, and you'll be qualified for many positions as a data entry keyer or operator.
10-Key Typing for Data Entry
Using the keypad to type numbers is a lot faster than using the numbers that are in a horizontal row at the top of the keyboard. If you've never used a numeric keypad, it might seem awkward. With practice, you can improve your speed and accuracy in a fairly short amount of time.
What Is Touch Typing?
Do you type with two fingers? This is often called the "hunt-and-peck" method, and those who type this way average about 10 words per minute. With touch typing, speeds of 60, 75 and even 80 words per minute are achievable with practice. Touch typing means you're using all 10 fingers and you're looking at the source of information you're typing from, rather than watching your hands. Not only is touch typing faster, it's actually better for the typist. It's less tiring to focus on just one thing rather than moving your head back and forth between your hands and your data source. There's also less risk of repetitive stress injury, because you're using all your fingers instead of just two. When employers look for 10-key data entry operators, they're expecting you to use the 10-key by touch.
If you're already a proficient touch typist, learning to use the 10-key pad will not be that difficult. If you never learned to type, find a class offered through a community college or an adult education program. It's also possible to study at home. There are many free and low-cost typing programs available on the internet, including training programs specifically designed to develop 10-key skills.
For 10-key typing, you'll use your right hand. Place your fingers on the keypad so your middle finger is on the number 5. Use your index, middle and ring fingers to reach the keys in the three columns of numbers and symbols in line with those fingers. Use the little finger for the enter key and other keys at the far right of the keypad.
How to Practice
Perform an internet search on "10 key practice." You'll find free tutorials, games and tests to help you practice. Set up a work space where you can practice consistently every day. You should have a table or desk at a height that lets you keep your wrists straight as you type. An adjustable office chair will ensure you can maintain good working posture. Make sure you have good lighting. Aim to spend at least an hour a day on your touch-typing skills, including 10-key practice.
Developing your speed as a 10-key operator is only part of your skill set. Accuracy is extremely important in data entry. An incorrect number can mean that a wrong part is ordered or that someone doesn't get paid.
Employers Seeking 10-Key Data Entry Operators
Most employers are looking for data entry operators who can type 60 to 80 words per minute (wpm), but 10-key speed, because you're typing numbers, is measured in keystrokes per hour (kph). An average speed of 8,000 kph is considered good, while 10,000 kph is usually considered a high speed.
A typing test is often part of the interview process, so don't inflate your rate on the job application. If you claim to type 8,000 kph and can only manage 4,000 kph, you won't impress a hiring manager. Remember, too, that mistakes are deducted from your speed. Practice your skills before taking a 10-key test and you can apply for a job with confidence.
Salary for Data Entry Operators
Data entry operators earn an average of $15.64 an hour, or $32,530 per year for full-time work. Salaries can vary according to location, education, years of experience and additional skills you have to offer.
Beware of Work-at-Home Scams
Although there are legitimate data entry jobs that allow you to work either part-time or full-time at home, there are also scammers who prey on job seekers. Do your research on a potential employer before making a commitment. Be wary of those whose salary offers seem too good to be true. A legitimate employer will not ask you to pay money upfront or to deposit a check before you've done any work.
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.