Data-Entry and Information-Processing Workers

If you are looking for a fairly straightforward paycheck, data entry and information processing may be a good option for you. Many companies and organizations need people to type reports, enter numbers into a spreadsheet, manage electronic data files, file reports, organize lists, and perform any number of other clerical tasks.

Here’s what you need to know about data entry and information processing in today’s market:

  • Data entry has changed significantly over the years. As with most jobs, the data-entry field has evolved with the rapid pace of computer technology. Today’s data-entry and information-processing workers often use computers, scanners, email, electronic spreadsheets, and Internet Web pages to do their jobs. Computer programs now do many of the tasks that were done by hand in the past, such as alphabetizing, calculating, and sorting data.
  • You need to be computer savvy. While technology has made data entry more effective and efficient, you as the data-entry worker will need to know how to operate a computer and the relevant software. You will likely be trained on the job, for the particular type of equipment you will need and how to use it for your particular data-entry task.
  • A high school degree is preferable. Many data-entry and information-processing workers go into the field shortly after high school graduation as a way to earn money fairly quickly and easily. A high school education often provides the necessary skills for this industry, including good grammar, spelling, and fact-checking skills. High schools also teach important skills in keyboarding and computer know-how (including word processing, spreadsheet, and database management software). If you did not acquire these skills in high school, you may need to brush up through Internet tutorials or a class at your local community college.
  • Use it as a stepping stone. Recent surveys show that data-entry workers make an average of $26,000 a year, and word processors/typists earn slightly more per year at an average of $31,000. This can be a great way to earn money during the early adult years while you are starting out on your own and trying to pay for an education. Technology also provides flexibility, and you may be able to work from home or during untraditional hours if needed. For this reason, data entry and information processing can be a great stepping-stone job that allows you to earn money while going to college or gaining work experience for other office jobs.
  • Think outside the box. Job titles in this field may include typist, data-entry personnel, word processor, and transcriber. There are many different types of data-entry jobs available, for a wide variety of companies and industries. The health-care industry, for example, depends heavily on data-entry and information-processing workers. Many Internet-based companies also need data-entry workers. Sales companies of all kinds use data-entry workers to handle customer information and membership lists, and just about all companies could use someone to prepare reports, letters, mailing labels, and other content. So don’t limit yourself to one industry—when you are looking for a job in this field, you will have better luck if you consider a variety of employers.
  • You’ll receive on-the-job training. Different types of data-entry and information-processing jobs require different kinds of software and protocols. Your employer will provide on-the-job training during your first couple of weeks, specifically geared to your specific task. After the training period ends, you will be expected to perform the tasks on your own.
  • Aim to update your skills regularly. Employment growth in the data-entry field is expected to decline slightly over the next decade, at a rate of 6 percent. This means that in the future, fewer companies will be hiring data-entry workers, probably because better training and technology allow their other employees to perform many of the tasks on their own. However, there will always be a need for detailed data entry and information processing, and the field is not likely to become obsolete anytime soon. The key is to stay on top of the trends—keep yourself up to date with computer technology and be willing to change with the times as the field evolves.