What does a Data Entry Operator do?

Maggie Worth

A data entry operator types information into a computer program using a keyboard and/or a computerized 10-key pad. These workers may enter names, addresses, statistical information, business information, account numbers, or other data. They are hired by companies and organizations that need to have large quantities of data processed quickly, and on a regular basis.

Data entry operators may work in hospitals.
Data entry operators may work in hospitals.

The most important skills in a data entry operator's arsenal are speed and accuracy. Employers want to hire the operator that can enter the most amount of information in the least amount of time. Quick entry means fewer labor hours per project, which saves the company money over time.

Speed and accuracy are essential skills that a data entry operator must have.
Speed and accuracy are essential skills that a data entry operator must have.

While speed is important, an employer must also be confident that the operator is entering the information accurately. Incorrect information is usually useless and can be dangerous. For example, an operator at a hospital might enter that John Smith is allergic to a common antibiotic. If, in fact, it is John Smithe that has the allergy, a clinician who looks up John Smithe's chart will not find the warning and may inject the patient with a drug that could kill him.

Other job competencies that are important to data entry operators are basic computer skills and 10-key skills. Operators most often enter information into basic database forms, so advanced computer skills are rarely required. The ability to start a program, open a window, use a mouse, and submit a form are vital, however. Use of a 10-key pad is critical to those entering a lot of numbers because 10-key entry is much faster than entry using the number keys on a standard keyboard. Since operators are often exposed to highly-sensitive information — such as Social Security numbers, account numbers, and sales data — discretion and honesty are also valuable traits.

A data entry operator can work in a wide array of fields and settings. Hospitals employ them to enter patient information, vendor data, and compliance reports. Direct marketing firms hire them to enter prospective customer information. Many businesses hire such workers in their accounts payable, accounts receivable, sales, marketing, logistics, or operations departments.

Some companies allow their operators to work from home. This means that a data entry operator may be able to work for a company in another city, or even in another country. Many off-site operators are also allowed to work a flexible schedule, which makes it easy to work around doctor's appointments, children's activities, and other personal commitments. A data entry operator can often also take advantage of part-time, freelance, and temporary employment opportunities.

Individuals who work in data entry positions are typically required to be able to type a minimum number of words per minute.
Individuals who work in data entry positions are typically required to be able to type a minimum number of words per minute.

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Discussion Comments


@Sierra02 – Another thing you might consider is asking your boss if you can do your data entry work from home. A lot of employees telecommute nowadays. Offer to prove yourself by working 1-2 days a week at home or ½ days to start out.

If they say no, there’s tons of telecommuting opportunities for online data entry operators. You might even find one locally. It’s worth the search and in the meantime, just be thankful you still have a J.O.B.


It’s obvious how the internet has changed the way people conduct business these days.

Many companies are not looking for full time staff members anymore to do their data entry work.

They’re searching for independent contractors. Data entry operators have to change their job search tactics and how they view themselves to keep up with the times.

If you think of yourself as a real business you’ll be more successful at finding online data entry work. Opportunities for freelance data entry operators are popping up everywhere.

Freelancer’s generally search for clients, not necessarily jobs, so to run a professional data entry home business you need to think and market yourself as one.


@Sierra02 - I hear your frustration but please don’t give up on your quest. There are real companies out there with legitimate online data entry jobs who are in need of real professional employees.

It can be just as frustrating for them sifting through all those emails and faxes of applicants. The pressures are on both sides in finding a good fit.

To be successful at finding data entry work from home is really all in the resume. You need to make sure it’s current and professional and includes a well written cover letter.

This will help get you noticed and put you ten steps ahead of the competition. Good luck.


I’ve held data entry jobs for most of my adult life, for the last 8 years anyway. I currently work for a brick and mortar company. I like what I’m doing there, but I really want to find a company that hires data entry workers from home.

I think I must have visited every online job site, read every job ad, followed every lead imaginable but I never have any luck with it. There are so many scams out there that I just don’t have the time to filter through all of them. Any ideas or advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance.

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