Customer service experience is available in a wide range of jobs, with the best candidates demonstrating superior listening and verbal communication skills. Most entry-level jobs require only a high school diploma, although a college degree is best for people intending to move into customer service management. The United States Department of Labor reports that customer service representatives held about 2.3 million jobs as of 2008, making it one of the country's largest occupations.
Apply for a customer service position in a department store or other large retail store. Some major retailers consider all employees as customer service representative and provide lots of opportunities for interaction with customers. Most retail stores have help desks where employees perform direct customer service duties. Applying at a retail store has advantages because work hours are flexible and education requirements are usually modest.
Obtain a job in a customer service call center if retail isn't an option. The jobs are usually entry level and offer extensive customer contact. Call center staffers use computers and other technology as they field inquiries from customers. The work is often long and tedious, but can lead to better opportunities. Major firms usually advertise customer service jobs on their websites.
Seek additional customer service experience in other ways. Some volunteer positions offer opportunities for gaining customer service. Volunteers are sometimes sought to work at family help desks in hospitals, or as administrative assistants at nonprofit agencies such as the Salvation Army. Check free online classifieds to find opportunities or check with agencies and organizations directly.
Giving 100 percent effort and delivering good customer service often leads to quick advancement. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that experienced customer service reps often move into roles as supervisors or managers, with some moving into better paying positions like product development.
Customer service jobs are not generally high paying; many entry-level jobs pay minimum wage or slightly hire at the start.
2016 Salary Information for Customer Service Representatives
Customer service representatives earned a median annual salary of $32,300 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, customer service representatives earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $41,430, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,784,500 people were employed in the U.S. as customer service representatives.