How Data Entry Training Can Boost Your Earnings

Find everything you need to know about data entry certification; where to find it, typical costs, and more!


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Are you comfortable in front of a keyboard? Do you type fast and accurately? A job as a data entry professional may be the right work-from-home opportunity for you. Data entry professionals key documents and forms, usually from images on a screen. With some proven skills and your computer, you can get into this field relatively quickly. To make the most of these opportunities, you'll need a bit more than good keyboard skills. The field does offer some work for people with only basic skills, but to really open doors, you'll need specific training. Taking a training or certification course to build and showcase your skills and prove your worth to employers is a good way to get your foot in the door with established companies that hire at-home data entry workers.

Certification Opportunities for Data Entry Professionals

Training for data entry professionals is mainly provided at Community Colleges and Technical Colleges and involves obtaining a certificate in information processing or a similar specialty. This type of training develops the basics of electronically inputting, editing, storing, and recalling written communications. Coursework at most colleges is spread over two semesters and requires 16 credit hours. Required coursework usually includes an introductory computer applications course, a computerized touch keyboarding course, and a Microsoft Word formatting course. Other requirements may include electronic math applications, records management, computerized keyboard skill-building, and courses in Microsoft Excel and Access, which are programs often used in these jobs. Students may also be asked to take several elective courses as part of their certificate programs, with options available such as legal terminology, practical accounting, business English, and office procedures, among others. TriCounty Technical College offers a data entry clerk certificate that requires roughly the same amount of coursework. Students take courses in keyboarding, information processing applications, document formatting, information processing software, and database applications, with a total commitment of 18 credit hours.

Program costs vary. Bellingham Technical College, for example, offers the data entry specialist track for $1,600 for tuition, with the total estimated cost of tuition, books, tools, and exams totaling roughly $2,300. Similar programs are offered at Community Colleges and Technical Colleges nationwide. An internet search should give you a list of options near you. Be sure to ask the college about your eligibility for financial aid, which can reduce the cost of the program dramatically.

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Two semesters at school is a substantial investment in time, and these programs do cost money, but the investment is much less than that involved in a full college degree. If you're a high school graduate and looking for an accessible and affordable education opportunity with a high probability leading to a career opportunity which keeps you productive at home, these certification programs might be just what you need.

Training Through Microsoft

Some job seekers looking to prove their skills as at-home employers seek out certification directly from Microsoft, which offers proficiency certifications for Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook. Microsoft offers an exam for each type of certification sought, and there are exams for various versions of the popular software.

Microsoft's training programs are free of charge, both through its Microsoft Virtual Academy and via a MOC setup with Microsoft Official Course on Demand products. Students may need to purchase the software needed for the course selected, generally Office 365, either through one of Microsoft's monthly subscription-based plans or a software suite purchase.

Training for Beginning Typists

If you're not yet a seasoned typist, don't give up. There is a bevy of different free programs on the market that allow you to learn typing and touch-typing skills, develop proficiency as a typist, and hone your skills. Study.com has compiled a list of free typing programs to help the beginning typist learn more about encoding, so you can learn or improve on what you already know before moving on to a more advanced certificate program. Options range from text-based lessons for accuracy and speed, including finger placement and other basic concepts to keyboard drills that work specific key sets. Some related websites also offer certification for intermediate and advanced typists, with both paid and free options available.

Job Outlook for Data Entry Professionals

Today's digital age means one thing for data entry professionals: jobs. Operators with proven skills and recognized certifications are more likely to land competitive jobs than professionals lacking certification, so training for the job is an investment in your work-at-home employability.

Pay for Data Entry Professionals

Working from home as a data entry professional has its perks that go well beyond having the coffee pot within an arm's length while "bringing home the bacon." The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that data entry operators and encoders make a mean hourly wage of $15.64, which translates to around $32,530 per year as of 2017.[1] That's fairly good pay for a job that doesn't require a college degree and allows you the freedom and flexibility of working at home!

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