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Word Processor Job Description, Career as a Word Processor, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training: High School

Salary: Median—$28,030 per year

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Word processors set up and prepare reports, letters, mailing labels, and other materials on a computer using a keyboard and word processing software. The word processor uses word processing commands to format the material and instruct the machine to correct spelling or grammar errors, number pages automatically, adjust the margins or line length, or perform a host of other functions. After inspecting the completed document, the word processor can print out and arrange copies of the document for presentation or for filing. Word processors also often perform other clerical duties around an office such as copying documents and answering telephones.

Word processing has become an everyday part of office technology in private industry and government. In addition to the job of word processor, this new technology has given rise to a number of related positions. Word processing trainers train terminal operators and instruct users in machine capabilities and formatting options. Proofreader/format designers, in addition to proofreading hard copy, set standards for the word processor's automated grammar and spelling correction and formatting processes. Word processing managers and supervisors coordinate and oversee other word processors and may be involved in the evaluation, design, and implementation of future word processing systems.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a word processor, a person generally needs a high school education. Employers look for applicants with all-around clerical skills, including a good command of the English language, fast and accurate typing, experience with basic word processing programs, and some secretarial experience. The actual technology of word processing—the use of computers and the software—is often acquired on the job or through employer-sponsored training programs. Many two-year colleges and business schools certify word processors who have completed a program in business and word processing. Some temporary placement services offer preliminary word processing training to clerical workers.

Word processing has become an everyday part of office technology in private industry and government. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.)

Getting the Job

A high school or business school placement office may be able to help a student find a job as a word processor. Interested individuals can check Internet job banks and classified ads of local newspapers for job openings. State and private employment agencies may be able to lead a person to openings in word processing. For a government job, arrange to take the necessary civil service examination.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Word processors who work quickly and accurately can advance to positions as supervisors or to specialized clerical or administrative assistant jobs within their companies after gaining additional training in programming applications.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 194,000 people held word processing jobs in 2004. Employment of word processors was expected to decline through the year 2014. In more and more companies professionals and other office personnel are doing their own word processing. Some experienced word processors will be needed because the occupation is a large one.

Working Conditions

Some word processors work independently at separate terminals. Others are clustered in a clerical pool. Word processors generally must sit at their machines for hours at a time. Their work can be tedious and can cause backaches, eyestrain, and repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Word processors usually work forty hours per week, although rotating or swing shifts and flexible time (for example, four ten-hour days a week) are options at some companies. Overtime may be expected during peak periods.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Administrative Professionals
10502 NW Ambassador Dr.
PO Box 20404
Kansas City, MO 64195-0404
(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 salary in 2004 for word processors and typists was $28,030 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $43,190 per year. Most word processors receive benefits such as health insurance and paid vacations.

Additional topics

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