Data entry is a type of job which involves entering data from a physical source such as a book, a sheet of paper or an audio recording into a computer for storage and processing in digital form.
But this job hasn’t always involved computers. Data entry has its origins in the keypunch machines of the 1890’s, where operators had to punch holes into paper cards using the data provided. These cards were then used as a program to run various machines. In those days, the punched data had to be verified by another operator who punched the exact same data on another card and compared the holes on both of them. This physically tedious job is a far cry from the computer based data entry which gained popularity from the 1970’s, where the entered data could be easily verified and processed by an individual, which would have otherwise a whole team.
Since there is a need for a data entry operator to possess deep knowledge about the field they are working in, or to train for a long time for the job, it is classified as a low-skill job. This usually means that high school graduates with minimal experience and necessary skills are eligible for the job.
Typically, a data entry operator needs to be proficient in the usage of electronic word processor and spreadsheet software such as MS Word, Excel. Also, it is a prerequisite to have fast typing skills, which allow the operator to enter a large amount of data in a shorter period of time.
A set of comprehensive resources for learning MS Word and MS Excel can be found here.
The operator should also have good concentration and focus as he will be usually handling important data which is vital for the company.
If a company is dealing with a specialized field for dada entry, then they might require candidates with a bachelor’s degree or experience in that particular field.
Types of data entry
- Transcribing from paper-based data
This type of data entry involves using a hard copy such as data on a sheet of paper or in an image and typing them into a computer program for organizing or processing them.
- Transcribing from audio-based data
In this type of data entry, the source of data for the operator is an audio file, which he has to listen to and type the contents into a computer program.
Companies providing data entry services in the US
There are several companies in the US which specialize in providing data entry services. Some of the notable ones are :
- ARDEM Incorporated
- Data Plus
- Axion data
- Relay services
- Lake Data Center
- Coleman Data
Pay scale for an operator in the United States
Data entry clerks in the US are paid an average of 12-13 $ per hour which translates into 20,000-38,000 $ per year inclusive of bonuses and overtime. According to surveys, over 50% of the data entry clerks also receive health coverage.
Future of data entry
Most of the manpower intensive jobs of the 20th century have now been automated with the advent of modern technology. It is therefore not much of a surprise that data entry is a field which is set for an overhaul with the introduction of speech recognition and optical character recognition software, which could process data faster than any human operator could possibly can.
If there’s any relief for the people employed, it is the fact that these technologies are not mature enough to be used without human intervention. Even if computer software is tasked with Optical Character Recognition, the successful transcription rate is low as the system often misreads characters and gets confused if the document isn’t perfectly formatted. This is where the humble human operator comes in, who has the ability to decipher bad handwriting, un-formatted data, and ambiguous characters.
Even after these technologies completely mature in the future, human operators will be hired to proofread the transcribed entries. This will end up speeding up the work of entering data and simultaneously retain employment in job-starved markets.