Data Entry jobs
(Also known as Word Processor, Data Processor, Typist, Data Entry Keyer, Electronic Data Processor, Keypunch Technician, Transcriber)
Data entry clerks help companies process information by inputting, maintaining and retrieving data using computer systems and ensuring that information is collated and stored in an accurate and efficient manner. Data entry clerks update, maintain and retrieve information which is held on a company’s computerised information storage and retrieval systems. They also transfer data held on manual records to computer files and ensure that important data is collated, processed and stored appropriately. Data entry clerks are responsible for transferring both words and numerical data into spreadsheets or databases. They use basic word processing and database packages but may also work with tailor-made software packages to meet the specific data needs of individual companies. Additionally, data entry clerks may use specialist programmes to translate and transfer ambiguous manuscripts. Data entry clerks may work in a specific data entry role or they may work in a combined role where data entry is combined with customer service. They work at computers but may also be required to operate peripheral computer equipment such as printers, scanners and tape readers.

Salary

Data entry clerks can expect to start on a salary of between £11000 and £15000 per annum. With significant experience or promotion to a supervisory/ team leader role this may increase to £18000 per annum.

Responsibilities

Typical responsibilities assigned to data entry clerks include:
  • Inputting customer details
  • Typing up manuscripts
  • Transcribing documents
  • Transferring market-research results
  • Inputting data (printed, coded or statistical)
  • Proofreading data
  • Answering phone calls
  • Updating medical records
  • Dealing with customer and staff queries
  • Processing sales invoices
  • Entering advertisements into newspapers
  • Filing, photocopying and other clerical or administrative duties
  • Working to deadlines
  • Preparing reports, letters and labels for mail-outs
  • Operating office equipment including computers, printers and photocopiers
  • Adhering to confidentiality regulations

Qualifications

Qualifications are not mandatory for data entry clerks but employers may favour applicants with GCSEs (grades A-C) in English, Mathematics and Information Computer Technology (ICT). The British Computing Society offers a range of additional computer courses which may also be useful qualifications when looking for a job. Qualifications relevant to data entry roles include:
  • OCR Certificate and Diploma for IT USERS (new CLAIT)
  • BCS European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Although employers may not require any formal qualifications it is common for data entry clerks to be given a skills test before being offered a job. This will ensure the candidate can enter data quickly and accurately. A Words Per Minute test is a helpful way to practise typing and give prospective data entry clerks an idea of their typing efficiency. Some employers may offer the opportunity to complete on-the-job qualifications relevant to the software packages they use.

Skills

Date entry clerks need a good basic knowledge of computers and a range of specific skills relevant to the job. These include:
  • Proficient typing skills
  • Computer skills and a knowledge of relevant software packages
  • Basic literacy and numeracy skills
  • Organisational abilities
  • Administrative skills
  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • A polite phone manner
  • Good customer service skills
  • Self-motivation
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • A conscientious and responsible working attitude
  • Accuracy and good attention to detail
  • The ability to do the same task for long periods of time
  • The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Good spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • A positive approach in a busy working environment
  • A knowledge of health and safety policies
  • A good understanding of data confidentiality issues

Working Conditions

Data entry clerks typically work a 35 – 40 hour week although part-time work and temporary contracts are often available. The majority of data entry clerks are office-based but there are various data entry opportunities which allow employees to work from home. Depending on the nature of the company, data entry clerks may be the only person responsible for inputting and maintaining data in a company or they may work as part of a data entry team. Data entry clerks typically work at a computer workstation within a busy open-plan office. They spend long periods of time in front of a computer so it is vital that they are aware of health and safety issues. Their job is very similar from day to day and inputting and retrieving data all day long can be tedious. Typing fast for long periods of time can also cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or other related injuries but most employers have policies in place to reduce risk and make conditions as manageable as possible. It may also be necessary to contend with office noises such as photocopiers, printers and fax machines.

Experience

Direct experience of data entry is not always necessary but experience of spreadsheets, databases and word processing packages will be beneficial, as will experience of working within an office environment. Most employers offer on-the- job training of their computer systems at the beginning of an employment so experience of specialist software is not usually a requirement. It may also be possible to gain experience through a formal apprenticeship scheme.

Employers

Inputting and retrieving data is required by a wide variety of organisations and professions including universities, charities, local authorities, support services, corporate bodies and small businesses. Web-based companies may also require data entry clerks including work from home data entry opportunities – however, it is important to be aware that there are a number of web-based scam companies out there who demand payment to start working, so it is important to be vigilant when researching jobs.

Career Progression

With experience data entry clerks will be given tasks that require higher levels of skill and accuracy. Within the field of data entry there may also be the opportunity to progress to a supervisory or team leader role which involves training, supervising and recruiting other members of a data entry team. Outside data entry the job provides a good basis for progressing to secretarial, administrative work or more skilled computer-related roles.
Data Entry Clerk Sarah Harding is 22 years old and has worked as a data entry clerk for seven months. She gives us the inside story Before starting work as a data entry clerk I worked as a dental receptionist and a retail sales adviser. A typical day at work involves typing handwritten information into a computer system to allow the charities that my company work for easy access to the information given. One of the positive aspects of my job is that it is pretty easy so I don’t have to take it home with me at the end of the night. I work 9 – 5, I can wear whatever I want and I receive a weekly pay package. On the downside, it is a very boring and repetitive job and I have to work to targets which can be difficult as your mind is inclined to wander due to a lack of stimulation. To anyone thinking of doing this job I would advise buying an MP3 player or a radio to keep you sane! Try to improve typing speed and accuracy using one of the Word per minute tests online and make sure you take breaks away from your computer to prevent typing related injuries. I don’t really see working in data entry as a career in itself but it is a good way to get a step on the ladder in a company you would like to work for. It can be tedious but try not to let it get you down. In terms of career progression I expect I will go on to work within admin related roles which require typing skills or great attention to detail. Working as a data entry clerk is good training in typing information quickly and accurately. Working as a data entry clerk will never offer high wages but on the plus side I get paid on a weekly basis. I work for an agency so I’m not paid by the company itself but after tax I earn £186 a week (it’s roughly £11000 per annum)