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Data Entry Keyer Job Description, Career as a Data Entry Keyer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High school

Salary: Median—$23,250 per year

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

A large and ever increasing amount of information is stored on computers. Banks store information on every check written against their customers' accounts. State governments record information on drivers' licenses and motor vehicle registrations. Insurance companies keep records of their clients' policies and claims.

Data entry keyers, also called data entry operators and key entry operators, enter lists of items, numbers, or other data into computers, where it is stored or used for research purposes. They often help to transfer information from checks, licenses, or other paper documents into a computer. Data entry keyers normally use data or number keypads to feed information directly into a computer. Others work with nonkeyboard data entry devices such as scanners, which scan documents into a computer. Computer software then automatically recognizes the characters on the document. After the document is scanned, the data entry keyer fills in any data the computer software did not recognize.

Data entry keyers must be fast and accurate. In some organizations data entry keyers are divided into two levels. Those in the first level work under close supervision. The material they work with is standardized, and they do not have to use their judgment to select or code the data. Any questions can be referred to a supervisor. Those in the higher level are more experienced. They may select and code the data that they enter. They may have to consult several documents to find what they need. They may also have to select the correct procedure for dealing with each piece of information.

Data entry keyers may also be required to operate other equipment, such as printers or tape readers. However, most of the work data entry keyers do is repetitive.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers require applicants to be high school graduates and to be able to enter data accurately at a given speed. A person can learn to operate data entry equipment in high school or in a private business school. Individuals may have to take a test when applying for a job. Some organizations transfer workers from other departments (such as bookkeeping) and give them on-the-job training in data entry.

Getting the Job

A student's school placement office may be able to help him or her to get a job as a data entry keyer. Prospective workers should check the classified ads of local newspapers. They can also apply directly to organizations that employ data entry keyers. The biggest employers are companies that provide computer and data processing services. Banks, wholesalers, and state governments are among other large employers.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Data entry keyers can advance from lower- to higher-level jobs. Some may advance to supervisory positions. However, opportunities are limited and usually are available only after several years on the job. With further training, a few data entry keyers may advance to jobs such as administrative assistant.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 330,000 people held data entry keyer jobs in 2004. Employment of data entry keyers was expected to decline through the year 2014. Technological advances are making it possible to enter a great deal of information into computers automatically. The devices that read bar codes on items purchased at supermarkets are examples of this type of innovation. Others are scanners, or machines that can read printed letters and figures. Also, many professionals now work from personal computers, enabling them to do their own data entry as they perform their regular jobs.

Working Conditions

A data entry keyer usually works in an office with many others doing the same work. These offices may be noisy because of the various types of equipment they contain. Keyers can be subject to eyestrain from long hours looking at video display terminals. They may also suffer from back strain from sitting at a computer for most of the day and can develop repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Administrative Professionals
10502 NW Ambassador Dr.
PO Box 20404
Kansas City, MO 64195
(816) 891-6600

Office and Professional Employees International Union
265 W. 14th St., 6th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(800) 346-7348

Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary of a full-time data entry keyer in 2004 was $23,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced keyers and those who work for the federal government can earn more. Benefits generally include paid vacations and health insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesBusiness