Data entry operators work in several types of work settings and in a wide variety of industries. Many work in comfortable office settings in several different work shifts, including normal daytime office hours, evening or night shifts and weekend shifts. If you are considering pursuing this type of clerical career, you must meet several background requirements, as well as have specific keying skill sets.
The main job responsibility for all data entry operators is keying, or typing, information. Alpha keying entails predominantly typing in letters. Alpha data entry operators use only the standard typing keyboard, rather than a 10-key numeric keyboard. An example of an alpha data entry position is working for a yearbook publisher and typing student names all day. This type of work can be tedious and requires good eyesight and being able to sit in front of a computer all day.
Alpha data entry employers look for both keystroke speed and accuracy in candidates. Most positions will require you to take a data entry or typing test to see if you qualify. Many professional alpha data entry operators can usually type an average of between 8,000 and 10,000 keystrokes per minute, or the equivalent of 75 words per minute in a typing test.
Most data entry jobs, including alpha-specific ones, do not require more than a high school diploma or equivalent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many employers look for data entry operators who have previous keying or typing experience, as well as other types of clerical work experience. Some positions may require you to use a scanner or copy machine, as well as complete basic filing tasks. Some companies provide on-the-job training to teach you the proprietary software system.
Salary and Job Outlook
The average annual salary for a data entry operator is about $31,000, according to CB Salary. Entry-level data entry operators may make about $25,000 a year, while seasoned professionals with other skills sets can earn up to $40,000 a year. Some data entry positions are hourly jobs that are eligible for overtime hours, while others are salaried positions that offer benefits, such as health insurance and paid vacation time. Many alpha data entry operators change jobs after gaining the initial experience, so turnover is high.