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Computer Operator: Salary, Job Description, Skills & Requirements

Find out the responsibilities, education needs, skill requirements and median annual salary for a computer operator. Also, learn about employment prospects for individuals interested in securing this position.

What is a Computer Operator?

Computer operators are responsible for observing and managing the operation of computers and related equipment within an organization. They ensure computer systems and networks run effectively and efficiently by inputting the proper commands and planning the use of computer terminals. Operators are also tasked with tracking, logging and fixing system or program issues or reporting equipment problems to the proper authorities within the organization.

Additional duties might include responding via phone to computer user issues, working with other employees to check the performance of new programs and training coworkers in similar or assistant roles. Operators also determine which computer technology and other materials to use and how it should be used, based on pre-existing organizational rules, procedures or policies.

Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent is required; associate's or bachelor's degree is common
Job Skills Technical, monitoring, troubleshooting, critical thinking, communication and decision-making skills
Median Salary (2017)* $44,270
Job Outlook (2016 - 2026)* -23%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers generally require entry-level computer operators to possess at least a high school diploma or equivalent. However, the BLS states that a large portion of employed computer operators may have a bachelor's or associate's degree.

Employers generally require operators to have some sort of training, whether on the job, in a vocational school or via a college program. Training requirements might include 1-2 years of experience in the workplace or time spent in an apprenticeship program.

Required Skills

Computer operators should have a general technical understanding of computer systems and networks and how the operate. They should be skilled at monitoring, troubleshooting and fixing program issues and be prepared to work with application server, LAN, archival and database management and reporting software, among many other types.

Critical thinking and decision-making skills are important in this position, since problems that are challenging to pinpoint and difficult to solve can easily arise. The necessity to report problems to supervisors, train employees and provide assistance to computer users within the organization requires strong communication skills.

Career Outlook and Salary

Employment opportunities for computer operators were expected to decline by 23% or 11,800 positions between 2016 and 2026, the BLS states. An increased use of automation plays a major role in the decrease in career options for this position.

The median annual wage for computer operators was $44,270 in May 2017, as noted by the BLS. According to Payscale.com, computer operators earned a median annual salary of $51,000 in March 2019.

Related Careers

Find out which careers are similar to the computer operator by reviewing the following articles. You'll learn all about job responsibilities, educational and skill requirements, salary details and career prospects for these positions.


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