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Nature of the Work
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Sources of Additional Information
(D.O.T. 203.362-010, -022, .382-018, -026, .582-014, -038, -042, -046, -054, -062, -066, -078; 208.382-010; and 209.382-010)
* For many people, a job as a typist, word processor, or data entry keyer is their first job after graduating from high school or after a period of full-time family responsibilities, serving as a steppingstone to higher paying jobs.
* Workers acquire their skills through high schools, community colleges, business schools, or self-teaching aids such as books, audio or video tapes, and personal computers.
* Employment is projected to decline due to the proliferation of personal computers and other technologies; job prospects will be brightest for those with expertise in computer equipment and software packages.
The information that many of today's organizations need to process is growing rapidly. Typists, word processors, and data entry keyers help insure this work is handled smoothly and efficiently.
Typists and word processors usually set up and enter reports, letters, mailing labels, and other text material. Typists make neat, typed copies of materials written by other clerical, professional, or managerial workers. They may begin as entry-level workers by typing headings on form letters, addressing envelopes, or preparing standard forms on typewriters or computers. As they gain experience, they may begin work requiring a higher degree of accuracy and independent judgment. Senior typists may work with highly technical material, plan and type complicated statistical tables, combine and rearrange materials from different sources, or prepare master copies to be reproduced on photocopiers.
Although it is becoming less common, some centralized word processing teams handle the transcription and typing for several departments. Regardless of how work is organized, though, most keyboarding is now done on word processing equipment. Word processors use this equipment to record, edit, store, and revise letters, memos, reports, statistical tables, forms, and other printed materials. Word processing equipmentusually a personal computer or part of a larger computer systemnormally includes a keyboard, video display terminal, and printer, and may have "add-on" capabilities such as optical character recognition readers.
Typists and word processors often perform other office tasks as well. They answer telephones, file, and operate copiers, calculators, and other office machines. Job titles of typists vary by duties performed and by work setting. For example, clerk typists combine typing with filing, sorting mail, answering telephones, and other general office work. Notereaders transcribe stenotyped notes of court proceedings into standard formats.
Data entry keyers usually fill forms that appear on a computer screen or enter lists of items or numbers. They may also manipulate existing data, edit current information, or proofread new entries to a database. Some examples of data sources include customers' personal information, medical records, and membership lists. Usually this information is used internally by a company, and may be reformatted before use by other departments or by customers.
Keyers can enter data on a variety of typewriter-like equipment. Many keyers use a machine that converts the information they type to magnetic impulses on tapes or disks for entry into a computer system. Others prepare materials for printing or publication by using data entry composing machines. Some keyers operate on-line terminals or personal computers. Data entry keyers increasingly work with nonkeyboard forms of data entry such as scanners and electronically transmitted files. When working with these new optical character recognition systems, data entry keyers often enter only those data which cannot be recognized by machines. In some offices, keyers also operate computer peripheral equipment such as printers and tape readers, act as tape librarians, and perform other clerical duties.
Typists, word processors, and data entry keyers usually work in clean offices. They sit for long periods and sometimes must contend with high noise levels caused by various office machines. These workers are susceptible to repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and neck, back, and eye strain. To help prevent these from occurring, some offices have scheduled exercise breaks, installed ergonomically designed keyboards, and workstations that allow workers to stand or sit as they wish. They generally work a standard 40-hour week.
Typists, word processors, and data entry keyers held about 1.1 million jobs in 1996, and were employed in every sector of the economy. Some workers telecommute by working from their homes via personal computers linked by telephone lines to those in the main office. This enables them to type material at home, and almost instantly produce printed copy in their offices.
About 3 out of 10 typists, word processors, and data entry keyers held jobs in firms providing business services, including temporary help, word processing, and computer and data processing. Nearly 2 out of 10 worked in Federal, State, and local government agencies.
Employers generally hire high school graduates who can meet their requirements for keyboarding speed. Increasingly, employers also expect applicants to have word processing or data entry training or experience. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar skills are also important, as is familiarity with standard office equipment and procedures.
Students acquire skills in keyboarding and in the use of word processing, spreadsheet, and database management computer software packages through high schools, community colleges, business schools, temporary help agencies, or self-teaching aids such as books, audio or video tapes, and personal computers.
For many people, a job as a typist, word processor, or data entry keyer is their first job after graduating from high school or after a period of full-time family responsibilities. This work frequently serves as a steppingstone to higher paying jobs with more responsibilities. Large companies and government agencies generally have training programs to help clerical employees upgrade their skills and advance to other positions. It is common for typists, word processors, and data entry keyers to transfer to other clerical jobs, such as secretary, statistical clerk, or court reporter, or to be promoted to a supervisory job in a word processing or data entry center.
Although the volume of information and business transactions is expected to grow rapidly, employment of typists, word processors, and data entry keyers is projected to decline through the year 2006, largely due to productivity gains and organizational restructuring brought about by new technologies. In particular, the proliferation of personal computers has enabled other workers to perform work formerly done by typists, word processors, and data entry keyers. Most professionals and managers now use desktop personal computers or work stations to enter data and do their own word processing.
As technologies are improved and more widely used, demand for typists, word processors, and data entry keyers will continue to decline. For example, bar code scanners, which are now common in large retail establishments, should continue to spread to smaller establishments; increasingly sophisticated optical character recognition readers, which scan documents and enter their text and data into a computer, are being used in more workplaces; and improved voice recognition technologies, enabling people to enter text and data by simply speaking to a computer, should also be more widely used.
In addition to these technologies designed to make traditional data entry more productive, others are being implemented, aiming to make data entry unnecessary. Data are being captured at the point of origin and entered into the system without human intervention. An example of this in the banking industry is automatic teller machines. As telecommunications technology improves, many organizations will take advantage of computer networks that allow more data to be transmitted electronically, thereby avoiding the reentry of data.
Employment of typists, word processors, and data entry keyers will also be influenced by international and service sector outsourcing. Some large data entry and processing firms employ workers in nations with low wages to enter data. As international trade barriers continue to fall and telecommunications technology improves, this transfer will continue to have a negative effect on employment of data entry keyers in the United States. Employment is also being redistributed among industries within the United States. As organizations have demanded more flexibility from workers, they have reduced permanent in-house staff in favor of using temporary help and staffing services firms.
Despite declining employment, the need to replace typists, word processors, and data entry keyers who transfer to other occupations or leave this large occupation for other reasons each year will produce numerous job openings. Job prospects will be brightest for those with the best technical skillsin particular, expertise in computer equipment and software packages. Applicants for these positions, however, must be willing to continuously upgrade their skills.
Based on a survey of 160 metropolitan areas, word processors with limited experience averaged $20,000 a year in 1995; relatively inexperienced data entry keyers averaged $18,100.
The salaries of these workers vary by industry; they tend to be highest in transportation and public utilities, and lowest in retail trade and finance, insurance, and real estate. Similarly, their salaries tend to vary by region, with salaries in the West being the highest. Regardless of industry or region, typists generally receive higher salaries if they have word processing experience.
In the Federal Government, clerk-typists and data entry keyers without work experience started at about $15,500 a year in 1997. Beginning salaries were slightly higher in selected areas where the prevailing local pay level was higher. The average annual salary for all clerk-typists in the Federal Government was about $21,500 in 1997.
Typists, word processors, and data entry keyers must transcribe information quickly. Other workers who deliver information in a timely manner are stenographers, dispatchers, and telephone operators. They must also be comfortable working with office automation, and in this regard they are similar to court reporters, medical transcriptionists, secretaries, and computer and peripheral equipment operators.
For information about job opportunities in data entry, contact the nearest office of the State employment service.
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