The job of data entry clerk is a general office job that includes some standard office skills and can vary from one workplace to another.
The basic description of a data entry clerk is a position that involved entering and updating information within a company database. That may mean making editing changes to the company handbook, scanning in documents to be kept on file, or updating customer accounts. But for many workplaces, data entry is only one part of the clerk's job.
Data Entry Responsibilities
If you want to get into a company as a data entry clerk, you'll need to know how to type, and should be familiar with Mac and PC keyboards. Depending on the company, you may be answering phones, scanning documents, and other office support tasks.
This is typically an entry-level position, which the pay scale tends to reflect. Data entry clerks need a limited knowledge of office systems and procedures, and while you'll need to have a good sense of proper office etiquette and attire, it's likely you won't be required to make large-scale decisions.
That doesn't mean you should expect this job to be boring, or that it's unimportant. In a lot of ways, clerks are the company's gatekeepers, deciding which calls go through and which get sent to voicemail. If they're doubling as the office receptionist, they'll be the company's first point of contact for many people.
How Data Entry Clerks Fit in the Office Hierarchy
Clerks should expect to be supervised by an office manager or senior administrator. Although they'll vary from company to company, the tasks a clerk does will tend to remain fairly consistent, depending on the company's needs.
In a small company, the data entry needs may be minimal, so the clerks may be part-time workers, or workers with other related duties, such as receptionist or secretary. When in a medium-sized office, more than one clerk is probably required, and the positions may be part or full-time.
A data entry clerk's position within a large organization is usually well defined in terms of responsibilities and tasks. Ideally, but not always, there will be a clear chain of command and expected outcomes are clearly communicated.
Necessary Skills for Data Entry Clerks
In American workplaces, most data entry clerk candidates will need strong math and English skills — both writing and speaking— to be considered for employment. You'll probably need to know how to use common programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, and should be familiar with using email in a professional setting.
Since data entry clerks often wear many hats, most will be expected to have strong customer service skills and the ability to multitask.
Education and Training
Again, this will vary based on the size and nature of the company, and the specific field, but there are some data entry clerk positions which require little more than a high school diploma and some on-the-job experience. Some companies may require an associate's degree or even a bachelor's degree, depending on the tasks the person will be expected to perform.