Data entry is a type of clerical work that involves using various processes like typing and voice recording for entering data into computers. Data entry clerks work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, retail and transportation. In this article, we identify the key features of this occupation and show you how to pursue employment in the field.
What is data entry?
Data entry is an industry in which employees add, verify and edit electronic data. Many companies need people to transcribe notes from meetings, add raw data into databases and add sales figures into electronic formats multiple times during the course of a business day.
A data entry job entails working as a handler of different types of electronic data and operating devices that professionals use to enter and edit data, such as a keyboard. There are a number of occupations in this industry, including typist, coder, transcriber or word processor.
Jobs in this industry have several different payment methods. If you start working in this industry, you could be paid by project, keystrokes per minute, keystrokes per word, keystrokes per hour or receive an hourly wage. Typically, the payment rate in data entry is based on your typing speed—fast typists are likely to earn more money in this industry.
How to gain data entry experience
When preparing for a career in data entry, it can be beneficial to pursue practical experience to help you in the role. To gain experience in the data entry field, consider taking these steps:
- Pursue an education. You can look for educational opportunities through high school and college classes or through technical training sessions and workshops.
- Complete an internship to decide if the career path suits you. You can also volunteer or intern in a data entry role to help make professional contacts in the field.
- Obtain certifications. Earning a certification will improve your job prospects in the industry.
Types of data entry jobs
Here are the two main types of data entry positions and the features of each:
- As a remote worker in the data entry industry, you can choose the location in which you carry out your job responsibilities.
- You can typically choose your own hours.
- Remote workers are unlikely to be paid an hourly wage and will be paid per project or per keystrokes during a specified period.
- Employers prioritize reliability and the ability to complete tasks in remote workers, so your performance may be more important than your work history.
- Working in data entry as a remote worker could give you the opportunity to earn some extra money while you work as a full-time employee in a different industry or pursue an academic degree.
- If you work an in-house data entry job, you are likely to be paid an hourly wage.
- Unlike remote workers, you can expect benefits like merit bonuses and occasionally health benefits and paid time off.
- Employment benefits that are linked to performance will be based on the speed, accuracy and reliability of your data entry.
How to succeed in the data entry field
You need several skills to be an effective data entry clerk. Keep in mind that you will need to spend a lot of time on your computer to develop these abilities. Follow these steps to excel in data entry:
- Improve your language skills. You’ll need English language skills to work in the data industry. To prepare, learn to read, write and proofread your work at a high level.
- Become a better typist. To teach yourself these skills, simply practice by typing anything into a writing program such as Word or Pages while you time your typing speed. Practice until you can type at least 35 words per minute. Consider using a free online test to identify your typing speed and find free online games that you can play to improve your typing.
Gain computer skills. To secure employment as a data entry specialist, you will need to know how to use computer programs to input and edit electronic data and save your work. Search for free online tutorials for popular computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, on the websites of their manufacturer or on video hosting sites. It could also be helpful to learn how to use basic office machines that pair with computers, such as a scanner and a printer. There are many free online tutorials that can help you to learn how to use office equipment effectively. By following this method, you can become literate in some technical programs needed for data entry in a short period of time.
Bolster your interpersonal skills. As a worker in the data entry industry, you will need to communicate with employers and colleagues during your data entry projects. As customer service is a learnable skill, you can use free resources—such as articles and tutorials—that are available on the internet to learn about related skills. Imagine confrontational situations with an employer or coworkers and role-play what you would do in these situations to practice.
Advantages of working in data entry
Some of the advantages of working in data entry include:
- Easy access to jobs. As many types of businesses need data entry workers, workers can often find employment readily.
- Opportunities for independent contractors. Since a virtual workforce of independent contractors is significantly less expensive to manage than an in-house staff and more U.S. companies are outsourcing work, employment opportunities for freelancers in data entry continue to grow.
- Low entry barriers. The cost and effort involved in gaining the skills needed for data entry are considerably lower than for many other jobs.
Warnings about working in data entry
While a part-time or full-time position in data entry could offer you many advantages, there are risks and deterrents in seeking employment in this industry. You can benefit from being forewarned about a few issues, such as:
There are many work-at-home scams in data entry that can derail your effort to find work. These scams involve fraudulent offers of data entry jobs, promises of high salaries, identity theft or requests for money. You can use the following tips to minimize this risk:
- Do your due diligence by researching a company that offers a data entry job. A legitimate company should have credible online information about its location, contact details, activities and workforce. Do not work for companies that lack this information.
- Work only for companies that have been approved by consumer services such as the Better Businesses Bureau or listed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Do not give your personal information—such as your Social Security number or checking account number—to a prospective employer unless you have completed your research and found out that the company is legitimate. There is a risk of identity theft in some data entry scams.
- Avoid companies that ask you to pay for administrative expenses, certifications, data on employers or training programs. A legitimate employer who offers a data entry job will not require any initial outlay from the job seeker.
Earning a high salary can be difficult in data entry. Consider the following advice to address this issue:
- Browse job listings to find the geographic locations and employers that offer the best salaries in data entry. Limit your job search to these areas and employers.
- Use a part-time job in data entry to boost your income instead of relying on a data entry job as your only source of income.