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Data Entry Clerk Career Guide

What is a data entry clerk?

A data entry clerk manages and maintains a company’s digital information. They oversee a vast array of business-critical information, ensuring accuracy and appropriateness while updating and editing information as needed. This role is vital to any business, especially those relying heavily on accurate and timely data for decision-making, forecasting, or tracking purposes. From small businesses, healthcare systems, and educational institutions to multinational corporations, these professionals are trusted to preserve important data’s integrity and confidentiality.

The significance of the position extends beyond just typing data into a computer. They provide a bridge between raw data and usable information, contributing immeasurably to the effective functioning of their organizations. Robust data management practices enable increased efficiency and competitiveness, made possible by the clerk’s meticulous work. Hence, their value is insurmountable, enhancing a company’s ability to leverage data for strategic benefits.

Duties and responsibilities

Data entry clerks maintain an organization’s database, and their main responsibility centers around entering and processing large volumes of data. They capture data from various sources, input it into databases, and update records when necessary. Another critical part of their job is ensuring that the entered data aligns with established accuracy standards. They are often required to review and cross-verify data for errors or discrepancies and make corrections when needed.

Apart from these primary tasks, they may also be tasked with generating reports, storing and archiving completed data, and maintaining the confidentiality of information. Periodically, they may be asked to support data analysis and present data comprehensibly. In some settings, these professionals may also liaise with other departments or staff to collect necessary data or clarify information.

Work environment

Data entry clerks commonly work in an office, often in front of a computer for long periods. However, the specific work environment varies greatly depending on the organization and industry. For example, they could be positioned within a specialized department, such as medical records in a hospital setting. In contrast, in a business setting, they might have a dedicated workspace within the administrative offices. Their work environment is generally clean and well-lighted, and conditions are typically conducive to concentrating and processing data efficiently.

There has been an increase in remote data entry work, allowing clerks to perform their duties from any location. This trend has increased flexibility regarding the work environment, enabling professionals in this role to work from home, coworking spaces, or any other location with a stable internet connection. Regardless of the physical location, the nature of their work demands a professional setting free from distractions to maintain focus and productivity.

Typical work hours

The working hours for data entry clerks typically align with conventional office hours, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Depending on the organization and workload, they may be required to work overtime or on weekends to meet deadlines, especially during peak business periods. Certain industries that require round-the-clock data management, like healthcare or emergency services, might entail shift work, including evenings, nights, and weekends.

In cases where they are working remotely, their work hours may be more flexible, with the potential for part-time or freelance engagements. The exact work hours may be less rigid if the work is completed accurately and within the specified deadlines. It’s essential for anyone considering the role to understand the expectation and balance it against their personal circumstances and preferences.

How to become a data entry clerk

To become a data entry clerk, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:

Step 1: Complete basic education

The first step is to complete your basic education. Most employers typically require that you have at least a high school diploma or equivalent GED certificate. During this time, it’s beneficial to focus on subjects such as English, math, and computer science as they can provide a solid foundation for the skills required in data entry roles.

Step 2: Acquire computer skills

The role heavily relies on computer usage; therefore, acquiring comprehensive computer skills is critical. Understanding the usage of office productivity software like Microsoft Word and Excel is paramount. Additionally, learning the basics of PC maintenance and troubleshooting can be advantageous, as it helps ensure the smooth operation of your tasks.

Step 3: Improve typing speed and accuracy

These professionals often input large volumes of data within a limited time frame, making typing speed and accuracy essential. Many online platforms offer free typing courses to improve these skills. Clerks are usually expected to accurately type 45 to 80 words per minute.

Step 4: Enroll in courses

It’s beneficial to complete a course specializing in data entry or office skills, as it can provide a deeper understanding of the job requirements. These programs often cover data management, spreadsheet functions, and office procedures. Such courses are available at community colleges, vocational schools, and online learning platforms.

Step 5: Gain experience

Work experience in data entry or a related field will significantly increase your employability. Seeking internships or entry-level jobs can provide hands-on experience that is immensely valuable. This also offers an opportunity to see how office environments work and understand the practical aspects of the job.

Step 6: Consider certification

While certification is not a strict requirement, having one can demonstrate your commitment and dedication to potential employers and may lead to better job opportunities. The National Association for the Advancement of Office Professionals offers a Certified Office Manager course that includes components related to data entry.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

After acquiring the necessary skills, education, and training, the final step is to start your job hunt. You can search for opportunities online on job portals, company websites, and professional networking sites. Customize your resume and cover letter to highlight the relevant skills and experiences you’ve gained so far. Prepare for interviews by familiarizing yourself with common questions in this line of work and demonstrating how your skills can be an asset to potential employers.

How much do data entry clerks make?

The salary of data entry clerks can be influenced by several factors. Geographic location is an important factor, with higher salaries often found in urban areas with a high cost of living. Education can have a moderate impact, although experience and speed/accuracy of data entry are likely to be more significant in determining pay.

The industry in which they work can also affect their salary, with some industries offering higher pay for specialized data entry. Additionally, the size and financial health of the employer can impact compensation levels. Some clerks may also work on a contractual basis, affecting salary expectations.

Highest paying industries

  • Finance and Insurance – $38,400
  • Information Services – $37,500
  • Merchant Wholesalers – $36,800
  • Scientific Research and Development – $36,500
  • Federal Government – $36,200

Highest paying states

  • Alaska – $39,280
  • Washington – $37,680
  • Connecticut – $36,970
  • Massachusetts – $36,220
  • Minnesota – $36,070

Browse data entry clerk salary data by market

Types of data entry clerks

This career guide section highlights the different types and specializations of data entry clerks.

General data entry clerk

Typically the starting point for many in this profession, a general data entry clerk is responsible for creating, updating, and managing data in a company’s systems. They handle invoices, company documents, personnel files, and client information. Their primary objective is to ensure the data’s accuracy, accessibility, and confidentiality.

Inventory clerk

This specialty requires a thorough understanding of a company’s inventory management system. Inventory clerks monitor the flow of goods, correctly catalog them, and record any changes or updates. Accuracy and an eye for detail are prerequisites of this role, as discrepancies can considerably impact a company’s operations.

Medical data entry clerk

Ensuring efficiency in the healthcare sector, medical data entry clerks manage patient records, transcripts, and other vital clinical data. These professionals often need familiarity with medical terminologies and the health information management system. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance as they deal with sensitive patient data.

Accounts receivable clerk

Another facet of the data entry profession is present in the accounting realm. Accounts receivable clerks deal with the financial data related to a company’s receivables. Their duties include preparing invoices, monitoring payments, recording any changes, and verifying the accuracy of the financial data. This role benefits from proficiency in accounting software and a basic understanding of financial principles.

Top skills for data entry clerks

Being a successful data entry clerk requires impeccable focus, speed, attention to detail, and strong technical skills.

Detail oriented

The nature of this role primarily involves transcribing information, often numerical, from one source to another. One minor mistake can result in significant errors down the line and compromise the integrity of an entire dataset. Being detail-oriented ensures the accuracy of this transferred data, contributing immensely to the whole data management process.

Speed and efficiency

These professionals often handle large volumes of data, requiring efficient work habits to meet tight deadlines. With a swift and streamlined approach, they can handle higher workloads, enhancing their productivity and the overall efficiency of their organizations.

Technical skills

Given that data entry typically involves using specific software, hardware, or even a specialized data management system, possessing strong technical skills is essential. This includes a foundational understanding of databases, proficiency in using relevant software, and the ability to troubleshoot minor technical issues. These skills contribute significantly toward maintaining seamless operations in data management.

Time management

One’s aptitude for managing time is directly linked to job performance. Data entry roles often involve managing multiple tasks within constrained timeframes. Strong time management abilities allow these professionals to prioritize tasks effectively, adhere to deadlines, and thus maintain high productivity levels.

Interpersonal skills

Although the role seems individualistic, there is a need to interact with different team members and departments. Clear communication is necessary for avoiding errors and misinterpretations of data. Positive interaction with colleagues fosters a better working environment that is conducive to productivity.

Data entry clerk career path

A data entry clerk starting their career journey has numerous opportunities for advancement and growth. With time and experience, they could aspire to become a data entry supervisor or manager. These positions are responsible for leading a team of clerks, maintaining accuracy, and overseeing overall operations. They often require a broader skill set, including personnel management and a thorough understanding of data management systems. With a deeper understanding and experience within the field, shifting from data entry to data analysis might be a plausible career progression. Data analysts interpret and manipulate the data entered to help organizations make strategic decisions.

For the more technologically inclined, pursuing additional training or certifications can open pathways into areas such as database administration or information technology (IT). A career in database administration typically involves designing and managing secure, large-scale databases, often building on the skills developed as a clerk. Similarly, transitioning to an IT support specialist would involve assisting users with software or hardware problems, troubleshooting network issues, and installing and configuring software applications.

These professionals may also consider careers in specific industries where data plays a central role. Healthcare, finance, marketing, and research and development often demand skilled data professionals. For instance, they may become health information technicians, finance data clerks, or market research analysts. These roles require a strong understanding of data entry and its applications within specific sectors.

Finally, many clerks use the transferable skills they acquire—like detail orientation, organizational abilities, and software literacy—to transition into different administrative or office roles. Depending on the individual’s interest and the opportunities available, these could range from administrative assistants to office managers.

One emerging trend within the field is the growing demand for remote clerks. As many companies adopt remote work structures, these professionals can work from different locations, including the comfort of their homes.

Technological advancements are also influencing the trend in this profession. Cloud-based platforms and proprietary data entry software are progressively becoming essential tools. These advancements increase productivity, efficiency, and data security, enabling faster and more accurate data entry.

Employment projections for data entry clerks

The employment of data entry clerks is projected to decline by 5% through 2031. A significant factor contributing to this decline is the increased use of automated data entry technologies and outsourcing overseas. However, opportunities will still emerge from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.

Data entry clerk career tips

Understand the various data formats

You may need to manipulate data from PDFs, spreadsheets, web pages, and printed documents. Comprehend the basics of data conversion and how to work with various file formats, as it can make your work more efficient and error-free.

Maintain a high level of confidentiality

Data entry clerks encounter sensitive information daily. Being able to maintain confidentiality and handle data responsibly is essential to the role, and it fosters trust between you and your employer.

Stay organized

Develop a system that helps you keep track of the tasks you have completed and those you still need to do. This can reduce the chance of errors and help you meet your deadlines.

Build a professional network

Networking can lead to more job opportunities and a better understanding of the industry’s best practices. This also allows you to learn from peers and enhance your career progression. Here are some relevant professional associations:

  • American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC)
  • National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP)
  • Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA)

Continuously learn and update your skills

Staying up-to-date with the latest advancements can give you a competitive edge and improve your performance. Consider these ways to continue learning and upgrading your skills:

  • Take online courses on advanced Excel or other database management software
  • Participate in webinars and workshops to learn about new data entry techniques and technologies
  • Read industry-specific publications that detail emerging trends in data entry

Consider getting certified

While not always required, obtaining certification related to data management or a specific software can demonstrate your commitment to expertise in the field. Certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) or Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) can provide you with a significant advantage over other candidates.

Where the data entry clerk jobs are

Top employers

  • Kelly Services
  • Aerotek
  • Randstad
  • Robert Half
  • Adecco

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder


What skills are important for a data entry clerk?

Key skills required include fast and accurate typing, basic computer abilities, the knowledge of how to use a data management system, and attention to detail. A high school diploma is generally needed. The ability to work independently and maintain confidentiality is also important.

How physically demanding is the role of a data entry clerk?

The physical demands are minimal, but safety considerations should be taken into account as you can spend long hours sitting and using computer equipment. Regular breaks are recommended to alleviate potential issues like eye strain or repetitive strain injuries.

What is the work environment like for a data entry clerk?

They typically work in an office environment. Some may be able to operate remotely, given that their work is predominantly computer-based. They often work traditional office hours, but some roles may require shift work, especially in firms that operate around the clock.

What are the primary job duties for a data entry clerk?

The main responsibilities are to input, update, and maintain information in a company’s systems or databases. They may also be required to verify and correct data, check documents for completeness and accuracy, and assist with generating reports.

Are there advancement opportunities for data entry clerks?

With experience and further training, they may advance to supervisory or managerial positions within their department. They may also specialize in specific areas like coding, database management, or data analysis, which offer higher earning potential and further career prospects.

Do data entry clerks often work overtime?

Overtime will depend on the company’s policies and operational requirements. Some might need to work additional hours during peak business periods, while others may maintain a standard 40-hour work week.

What kind of training is required to become a data entry clerk?

Although they generally require a high school diploma or GED, specific training is not always necessary as many skills can be learned on the job. However, familiarity with computers, keyboards, office equipment, and software like spreadsheets and databases are often highly preferred by employers.

What is the job market like for data entry clerks?

The job market is steady, with opportunities across many industries. Due to the shift toward digitalization, most businesses require the services of data entry professionals to manage and maintain their databases and systems effectively.

What software knowledge should a data entry clerk possess?

They should be proficient with various types of software, including Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel. Familiarity with database systems and common CRM software can also be advantageous. The specific software will depend on the tools used within the company they’re working for.

Do data entry clerks work in teams or individually?

It depends on the company or organization. Some may work alone, handling specific data entries or tasks. However, in larger organizations, they might be part of a team, collaborating to manage vast amounts of data and data-related tasks.

How is performance typically assessed for data entry clerks?

Their performance is typically assessed based on the accuracy of their work, the speed at which data entries are completed, and their capacity to meet the set deadlines. Organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously can also contribute to evaluating their performance.