As a data entry clerk (or database administrator) it's your job to update and maintain information on computer systems and in archives.
It's an important role as information in these systems is only valuable if it is accurate, up to date and useable.
So, what will I actually be doing?
The job description is quite straightforward and your day will involve entering information into the computerised database. The type of information varies from company to company. If you work for a sales company for example it could be sales data or personal information on new clients, if you work for a research firm it could be market research survey results.
Information you work with might be text based or numerical. It could be paper-based information that needs logging into spreadsheets or databases.
As master of the archives, you might have a company facing role where it is your responsibility to help other employees find the information they need. It is also quite common as you move up the ladder to combine the role of data entry clerk with a customer service advisor role.
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The nitty gritty
It is an office-based job which usually requires you to work a 35-40 hour week.
Full-time and part-time opportunities and even some flexible working shifts are quite common these days.
There are a lot of roles out there as many companies have huge databases which need a specialist to keep them up to date.
As your experience grows you may be able to move into a more supervisory role, overseeing a team of clerks and training new recruits.
You might also choose to specialise in customer services and in time move away from the data entry side of things altogether.
A move into IT may also be possible if you've been on some of the training courses.
Money, money, money
You should expect to start on a salary of around £11,000 to £14,000. This jumps up to £18,000 with experience and as you take on additional duties, such as customer service.
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The good points...
There are jobs across all sectors including sales, marketing, banking, medical administration and education.
...and the bad
There can be a lot of pressure in this job. Accuracy is the name of the game when it comes to the skills needed to be a data entry clerk. The information you are working with is going to be used for senior level decision making and to reach customers so it's vital that it is correct.
Businesses have to be sure they are mailing information to the right people, or even more importantly if you work in a bank, that the right bank details are recorded for each customer.
Do your job wrong, and you could be in serious trouble with the boss.
Is there study involved?
There are no set entry requirements but some qualifications will be helpful if you want to get ahead. You'll probably be asked by employers whether you have GCSEs, especially in maths and English, or any computing skills such as the New Computer Literacy and Information Technology (New CLAIT) or European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).
Younger jobseekers may be able to get started via the Apprenticeship scheme.
Go to www.apprenticeships.org.uk to find out more.
Most of your training will be on the job, teaching you how to use software packages or any specialist database technology that your company uses.
As part of your development you could also discuss with your employer going on one of the specialist data entry and IT courses. There are NVQs/SVQs levels 1 to 3 in Administration, which include units covering entry and retrieval of information on computer systems; NVQs/SVQs levels 1 to 3 in Using IT; and City and Guilds qualifications in ICT Basics and Information Technology.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
Skills you'll need include:
- Computer literacy
- An ability to work to deadlines
- An ability to work fast (but without mistakes)
- Good attention to detail
If you want to combine your data entry role with a job in customer services then you'll need to demonstrate additional qualities including good communications skills and telephone manner.