How to Become a Data Entry Operator: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a data entry operator. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in data entry.

Should I Become a Data Entry Operator?

These operators take written information from forms, applications, or company files and enter the information into computer system databases or applications for business use. Some positions deal mostly with typing, such as word processing or computerized customer files. People in these jobs handle letters, documents, and mailing lists. Other positions feature heavy emphasis on numerical data entry, such as accounting, banking and mortgage, or loan information. Data entry operators work in marketing, accounting, human resources, or healthcare, and many work hours are spent seated at a computer.

Data entry operators need only a high school diploma or equivalent. Excellent keyboarding skills are beneficial and learned in a variety of contexts. Related work experience gives applicants an edge when applying for jobs.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent.
Experience 1-5 years of related clerical or data entry experience.
Key skills Reading comprehension, verbal and written communication critical-thinking and active listening skills, basic knowledge of Microsoft Office, fast, accurate keyboard and 10-key by touch skills; knowledge of clerical and administrative techniques, business principles, customer service principles, near vision acuity, and finger dexterity.
Salary(2015) $30,569 per year (Median salary for all data entry operators).

Sources: Careerbuilder.com job listings (November 2012), O*Net Online, PayScale.com.

Step 1: Gain Data Entry Skills

Employers train data entry operators, but good typing and numeric key entry skills are a common prerequisite. Knowledge of database software, spreadsheets, and word processing is helpful. Good spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills are also necessary, as well as strong reading comprehension. Data entry operators must be familiar with basic office equipment like computers, scanners, copiers, and calculators. Training is available at the high school level, and there are online tutorials as well. Employment agencies, temporary agencies, public libraries, and community colleges also offer courses in keyboarding skills and data entry.

Success Tips

  • Obtain a data entry certificate. Many community colleges offer 1-2 semester certificate programs in basic office skills or clerical data entry preparing applicants for entry-level data entry positions. This certificate makes a high school graduate more competitive in this career field.
  • Practice data entry skills. Data entry operators must be fast and accurate. Candidates should practice their new data entry skills to increase their speed and reduce errors. Some employers require applicants to pass a keyboard speed and accuracy test before hiring.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Related entry-level positions, such as a word processor or typist, help future operators gain the experience required by most employers. In these positions, workers learn how to check for spelling and punctuation, organize page reports, and sort data.

Step 3: Gain Employment for Advancement

High schools and colleges, as well as online job boards, have local job listings. Careful attention should be paid to the requirements of each job listing. Some jobs require typing skills of a certain amount of words per minute, and some positions require aptitude with specific software.

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