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How to Become a Certified Typist

Research the requirements to become a certified typist. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in typing. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 1:04 Improve Typing Speed
  • 1:58 Consider Office Clerk Training
  • 2:23 Earn Typing Certification
  • 2:51 Obtain Employment and Advance

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Certified Typist?

Education Level High school diploma or equivalent
Certification Typing certification
Experience None; some positions may require prior work experience
Key Skills Fast typing, clear communication, reading comprehension, and time-management skills; proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Acrobat software; familiarity with the dictaphone
Salary (2015) $38,710 (average for all typists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONet Online, Online employer job postings (November 2012)

Certified typists perform clerical work in office settings and keep accurate and timely records of important information. This job may also fall within the responsibilities of general office clerks or secretaries. Among job duties, the typist's main job is to create documents, such as reports and letters, using word processing software. They also transcribe information from audio recordings, and some conduct additional duties, like answering phone calls, assisting customers and handling e-mails. Typists typically sit in front of a computer monitor throughout the workday, and they may be paid either an hourly wage or an annual salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average earnings for typists in May 2015, were $38,710 per year, which comes out to $18.61 per hour. Now let's take a look at the steps you need to take to begin a career as a typist.

Step 1: Improve Typing Speed

While certified typists typically don't need a formal degree, some training can help improve typing speed. Many community colleges offer typing classes to help students increase their words per minute, or WPM. You might also practice typing by using some of the free typing practice programs and tests available online. These show results for words per minute and the number of typing errors. Such practice can help you reach the minimum typing speed requirement set by employers. Typists typically have to sit for an employee-administered test to ensure a minimum typing speed between 50 to 80 words per minute. Some typist positions require the use of a dictaphone, which is a machine that records speech to be typed out later. During training, you may want to familiarize yourself with the dictaphone and learn to listen to recorded information while typing.

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Step 2: Consider Office Clerk Training

As mentioned, the duties of a typist often fall in line with those of an office clerk, so you might open up job opportunities by completely a postsecondary office clerk certificate program. This program teaches keyboarding and computer applications, composition techniques and office procedures. It may also include courses in communications and office management to help fully equip you for a career in clerical work.

Step 3: Earn Typing Certification

To become a certified typist, you can sit for a typing certificate exam that tests your typing speed and accuracy. Such certificates are available through career services centers, community colleges and vocational schools. A typing certificate can demonstrate to an employer that you're not only proficient in typing but also dedicated to your career. Depending on the employer, typing certificates may only be valid for a certain period of time.

Step 4: Obtain Employment and Advance

Typists work in a vast variety of industries, from law and government to business and real estate. Many typists begin by seeking entry-level positions through formal training, and certification may qualify typists for more advanced positions. As typists accumulate experience in entry-level positions, more advanced work may become available to them. For instance, some positions require several years of typing experience. Others may require specialized knowledge, like legal or government jargon. So typists may benefit from specializing in a particular field, like law or government.

While there are no strict education requirements for this career, employers generally require a minimum typing speed of 50 to 80 words per minute, and they may prefer applicants with office clerk training and a typing certificate.

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