Data entry is a very broad term that applies to a plethora of occupations. Some of which include clerks, typists, coders, electronic data processors, transcribers and word processors.
While many data entry jobs can be done from a remote location, those done from home tend to be a little different from those done in an office. The way online or home-based data entry jobs are performed may vary considerably from those done in an office.
Some data entry freelancers working for micro labor websites that use crowdsourcing methods usually do small portions of work for a small fee. This has resulted in the growth of the micro labor market.
There are also other data entry operators that still work for traditional data entry companies. However, these companies are often firms dealing with business process outsourcing. Therefore, these data entry freelancers may either be paid per-word or hourly for an entire project depending on the client.
So, what is data entry?
In a nutshell, data entry can be defined as operating equipment (usually a keyboard) for the input of data into the system of a company. The data being entered may be symbolic, alphabetic, or numeric and may come in audio files or hand-written forms.
Other data entry freelancers may be required to edit or verify data as it is entered.
What is the job description of a data entry freelancer or operator?
A data entry clerk, also known as a database administrator, is responsible for updating and maintaining information in archives and on computer systems.
Being a data entry clerk is an important role because the information entered in the systems is extremely valuable and it needs to be up-to-date, accurate and usable.
As a data entry operator, you will be responsible for keeping track of the activities performed by a designated company, departments, and individuals. Therefore, you will be compiling, organizing, managing, and updating numerical and text information and data before entering it into databases and spreadsheets.
As a data entry expert, you may be employed in all kinds of institutions and organizations as well as websites that outsource for data entry freelancers.
Primary responsibilities of a data entry clerk
Below is a non-exhaustive list of common tasks that you are required to complete as a data entry clerk or freelancer:
- Collecting data such as statistical data found in reports, customer and employee contacts details, billing information and the likes from various departments
- Compiling and entering data such as transactions and statistics among other useful information with the use of specialized hardware and software.
Other minor responsibilities may include:
- Assessing and guaranteeing that the data collected is not only consistent but also accurate
- Duplicating and updating data across a variety of databases
- Ensuring that the data entered is stored in an easy to retrieve and organized manner in order to facilitate the access, extraction, and interpretation of the data
How does data entry work?
While many of the responsibilities mentioned above fall under the data entry umbrella, tasks for jobs advertised as ‘data entry jobs’, with the exception of transcription work, don’t demand much, require the least skills, and usually pay the least.
Generally, data entry clerks working in an office may be paid an hourly wage. However, the same rarely applies to freelancers doing online data work.
The most common methods of payment for data entry clerks include keystrokes per minute, or keystrokes per hour, per word, per audio minute or per piece. For this reason, most of these payment methods make what you earn as a data entry clerk dependent on your entry speed.
On the other hand, specialized data entry positions such as medical coding or medical transcription require certification or more training. Similarly, among general transcription jobs, there are those that are different and may require more speed and experience than the typical data entry jobs. Many times these type of data entry positions require the use of special equipment/ software.
What do data entry jobs pay?
Salary information for data entry jobs varies considerably depending on a plethora of different factors. The most common one includes:
- Location, are you working at home or is the job office-based?
- Skill/difficulty level
- Pay rate structures
- Status, are you an independent contractor or an employee
- Your data entry speed
All in all, the fact of the matter is that data entry jobs pay very modest wages whether you are work in an office or remotely. Therefore, any company, organization or website promising data entry freelancers a hefty payment is more than likely to be a data entry scam.
Remote data entry jobs
Even though a lot of companies only allow data entry operators that have been trained in-house to work remotely, this type of job can also be done from home.
However, keep in mind that the pay for home-based workers is typically lower. This is because remote data entry jobs are almost always being done by freelancers and independent contractors.
Even though many online advertisements for “work-from-home” data entry jobs are usually scams, there are a few legit websites and sources offering freelancers real jobs.
Salaries for office data entry jobs vs work-from-home
Unlike data entry jobs from an office, many work-from-home positions are likely to pay less. However, this is not because home-based data entry workers are willing to earn less because they prefer working remotely. The main reason is data entry jobs from home is often done by freelancers or independent contractors that are not subject to minimum wage laws.
Also, data entry jobs may be in competition with other micro labor positions or global work-from-home jobs which may, in turn, lower the rates of payment.
While there is no specific educational background for data entry specialists, most jobs will require you to have a high school diploma. However, some may require skills such as editing or verifying data and they usually pay better as compared to basic data entry jobs.
However, if you want to land better-paying jobs or get data entry jobs faster, you can improve these chances by taking a college or online course in the field. Software development, computer science, and telecommunication are areas of study that may look impressive on your resume especially if you are after clients that pay higher rates.
How to become a data entry clerk or freelancer
If you want to become a data entry operator, the following are the steps you should follow:
1. Gain data entry skills
While there are employers that train data entry operators, good numeric key entry, and typing skills are a common requirement. It will be also helpful if you have knowledge of word processing, database software, and spreadsheets. Good grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills are also major requirements together with strong reading comprehension.
If you are planning to enter the data entry market as an operator, you ought to be familiar with equipment such as computers, calculators, copiers, and scanners. If you didn’t do a basic computer course in high school, then you can enrol at any learning institution near you that offers computer lessons. Similarly, you can look for websites that offer online tutorials for data entry and keyboarding skills.
If you want to be successful in data entry, you need to practice your keyboarding and data entry skills regularly. This is because data entry operators are required to be accurate and fast. To reduce errors and increase your speed, ensure that you practice new data entry skills as regularly as you can. While sourcing for data entry gigs on the interweb, you might come across clients that require you to pass an accuracy and keyboard speed test before hiring you.
2. Gain experience
A typist or word processor is an entry-level related position that can help you gain the experience that most employers require. While in these positions, you can learn how to sort data, organize page reports, as well as check for grammar and spelling mistakes.
If you want to succeed in your data entry venture, gaining experience will not only improve your typing and office skills but also land you more jobs. You might also want to consider formal training.
3. Get employed and advance your skills
Online job boards and websites feature local and international job listings. Ensure that you pay close attention to the requirements of each job listing. This is because some jobs may require the typing skills of a specified amount of words per minute while others may require you have some level of expertise in using specific software.
Advantages of data entry
Ranging from voice-activated data entry roles to typing literary and numerical data into spreadsheets, data entry jobs come in various forms. Whether you are hired by an agency or you are a freelancer, pursuing a data entry career has many advantages including the following:
- Low-stress levels
If your life outside of work is hectic and you need to earn extra income, then data entry is a good choice for you. You may be a stay at home mum or a student looking to make ends meet while in college. Data entry tasks are not only relatively methodical but also pretty straightforward. Therefore, you can complete them with little stress or worry.
- Work from home
By simply having an internet connection and a computer, most data entry jobs can be done online. What normally happens is that you are sent, posted or emailed a web link to the source of data and given instructions on a task-by-task basis. This means that you can work from the comfort of your home instead of having to commute daily to an office.
Since you will not be tied to a specific location, you can accept work from organizations worldwide and give yourself an international working environment. Even though a good number of companies offer home-based data entry jobs, this is not an industry standard. There are some clients or organizations that prefer their workers working in an office where they can be monitored.
- Get paid per entry
Typically, data entry jobs are paid per entry, therefore, if your typing speed is fast your potential for earning better is high. By gaining more experience, your typing speed will increase and in turn, your income will increase over time.
- Helps you build your skills
With years of experience in data entry, you will get to improve your literacy, computer, and numerical skills as well as expand your vocabulary. Such skills can help you later on when you are thinking of venturing into a new career path.
- A working schedule that is flexible
As a data entry operator, you are not normally required to work within constricted hours provided you meet the set deadline for each assignment. Another advantage is that you can take on assignments that you are comfortable doing, meaning that you can balance your working hours especially if you have children or other commitments such as school or a normal job. You can either work late at night or early in the morning depending on your schedule.
If you are thinking of becoming a data entry operator in Kenya, you should know that there is real money to be made in virtual work. With the right sources, you can be on your way to earning your first salary as a data entry freelancer.