How to Become a Data Entry Clerk:
The Definitive Guide

Are you the type of person that enjoys working in an office setting, especially with computers?

Do you enjoy helping keep things organized and neat for businesses?

If that sounds like you, then a data entry clerk job may just be your dream come true.

The type of data entered into the computer varies with the different types of businesses, but every business needs someone to do this meticulous task.

What is a Data Entry Clerk?

If you have strong typing skills, then this job will be perfect for you.

A data entry clerk is someone who works with businesses like law firms, companies, doctors’ offices, etc. to enter data of varying types into computers.

These types of data can be applications, forms, company files, and many other things.

This helps the businesses keep all information organized and readily accessible.

Aside from just entering data, you’ll need to make sure that what you’re typing in the computer is accurate.

No one wants to see wrong data in their database, that kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?


There are many important tasks that you will do as a data entry clerk, just remember that you will be on a computer for quite some time.

Most of your work day consists of using computers and having a good understanding of how to work them.

  • Check data
  • Monitor computer databases
  • Encase the database periodically
  • Typing on a computer
  • Enter data into the computer
  • Compile and verify accuracy of data
  • Review data for errors


The average data entry clerk in the United States makes around $32,000 a year.

The range falls between $28,000 and $36,000.

There are some reasons for the range in salary.

Those who have more education, certifications and training will make more money.

Those starting out in the career may make less, but can work up to making average or even above average salaries.

It is important to have good training, and learn from someone who has worked as a data entry clerk.

Training may take you a couple of extra months, but most people have good computer skills already.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $35,940


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$40,750
New Hampshire$36,810
New Jersey$40,000
New Mexico$31,600
New York$39,680
North Carolina$33,370
North Dakota$35,660
Rhode Island$40,600
South Carolina$32,770
South Dakota$30,020
West Virginia$31,950
Puerto Rico$22,090
Virgin Islands$37,290

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $43,750.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Alaska - $43,750
Massachusetts - $41,630
District of Columbia - $40,750
Washington - $40,720
Rhode Island - $40,600
*Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Data Entry Clerk

Step 1Get Certified

You don’t need much formal education to become a data entry clerk, just your high school diploma or GED.

That being said, it is advised, but not necessary, to get a data entry certificate.

Most community colleges offer programs that take one to two semesters.

With this certificate you will learn basic office skills, which can make you more competitive in the job field.

There are plenty of free online resources where you can find courses to take in order to be prepared for your certificate.

In order to get your certificate, you’ll need:

  • To understand a variety of computer software, and use them efficiently.
  • To communicate properly.
  • To design, maintain and evaluate different types of records.

The ability to work as a team member, and take direction when needed.

Step 2Gain Experience

Try to get an entry-level job that will allow you to train and practice your expertise.

It may even be fun to try and do some data entry at home, for even more practice.

The more experience you get, the better paying jobs you can acquire.

Keep working and trying to gain more experience.

It will pay off in the end.

Some things that you can do to help yourself gain experience and training:

Use software like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access, Project, and Open Office.

Becoming familiar with these can help you ten fold.

Watch Youtube videos about different software so that you can become efficient with them, even before you start your job!

Check your local colleges, libraries, or community centers for workshops that could help with your career.

Step 3Advance in Your Career

After you have succeeded at that entry-level job, ask for a raise, or find another job that pays more, has more hours, or even more responsibilities.

Make sure you pay attention to the job listing to ensure you have the correct certification and skills for the job.

Some jobs require your typing skills to be a certain number of words per minute, and some jobs even require you to have intensive computer skills.

Let’s talk about some things you can do if you want to boost your career:

Learn word processing, make sure you understand the inner workings of programs like Word, and Excel.

Understand the filing system for your employer.

Become a teller, having some type of understanding of money and how to handle it will take you farther.

This can also help you with billing if it is one of your job tasks.

Some other jobs you can do as a data entry clerk:

  • Medical records
  • Legal secretary
  • Receptionist
  • Pharmacy Aide
  • Library assistant


A data entry clerk only needs to have a high school diploma or a GED.

Most employers will train data entry clerks to show them how they would like the job done.

It is important to have a set skill in typing and in numbers before applying for a data entry clerk job.

It is possible to obtain a data entry certificate.

If you get in touch with your local community college, they can tell you if they offer programs that will allow you to get your certificate.

If you choose to go to your local college, the types of classes you may be taking include:

  • Beginning Keyboarding
  • Intermediate Keyboarding
  • Advanced Keyboarding
  • MS Excel Specialist
  • MS Access Specialist
  • General Office Procedures
  • Records and Database Management
  • Survey of Computing

This certificate shows that you are capable of the required typing and data entry skills most employers desire.

Video About The Career


Community, technical and vocational schools in your area may offer courses so that you can obtain a certificate.

Some things you may learn are:

  • Keyboarding
  • Information Processing
  • Data entry software usage

If you would like, it is possible to gain an Associate’s degree, which could help you get a supervisor job once you have the experience.

You can head to your local community college, and they may offer you classes to obtain a certificate.

If you don’t want to have to trudge to school in all types of weather, there are also online classes available.

Certification Example:

excel certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 6-12 Months

Training for a certificate can take between 3 and 6 months.

An Associate’s degree can take around 2 years.

Getting a degree is not necessary for this job, but a certificate is viewed as a very good first step.

Popular Programs

Job Outlook

The job outlook for data entry clerks is a bit slower than average.

The job looks to grow around 3% within the next 10 years.

Sometimes, businesses will combine their office work to one person, that means less jobs are available for specifically data entry clerks.

Also, the use of online ordering, and self-service kiosks make it easier for people to do things electronically.

Even though data entry clerks may have a bit harder time finding positions, there are other possibilities.

You can work in a library, school office, or other places that need front office help.

Take a look around your local community to see if there are any job openings.

Employment Growth Projection: 2%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 20,400 jobs.

Data Entry Clerk: Interest Over Time

Should You Become a Data Entry Clerk?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Overall Satisfaction

The overall satisfaction for a data entry clerk is about average.

There is not much room for growth in a company in this position.

The hours are decent, and the pay is average.

It is easy to become a data entry clerk, but hard to advance beyond that.

That is why many data entry clerks choose to get their experience in data entry, and then move on to other positions.

Like medical billing, education, or even in a local library.

Average Salary: Medium

Average Salary

The average salary for a data entry clerk is $32,000 a year.

It is possible to make more through advancement, experience, and training.

Also, depending on where you work, you may make more or less than average per year.

If you decide to become an independent contractor, you can make your own salary, which could mean you make more than average.

There are five states that have an abundance of data entry jobs:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Florida

There is also a possibility of working online, which could make you can work from home.

Job Growth Outlook: Low

Job Growth Outlook

The job growth outlook seems to be slower than other jobs.

It is still possible to get a data entry clerk job.

You’ll need to look around at the businesses in your area and see how high the demand is.

Most doctors’ offices and smaller businesses still require data entry clerks.

It is also possible to do data entry through your school, library, or even from home.

There are times when online companies are too busy to configure their own Excel sheets or Quickbooks, that’s where you come in.

Education Duration: 6-12 Months

Education Duration

It can take from 6 months to gain a certificate in data entry.

It is possible to obtain an Associate’s degree as well, but usually those are for people who want to advance farther than a data entry clerk.

Those that get their certificate are very capable of doing data entry jobs, especially with experience.

Gaining experience and training is key for this position, not so much formal education.

The more you know about computer programs, the better off you will be.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

As a data entry clerk, you will be working with many people.

From office co-workers, to clients, they’ll likely see your smiling face.

No one likes a grumpy co-worker who feels as if they are doing the company a favor.

You’ll want to ensure you have these skills for a data entry position:

  • Verbal communication skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Understanding of Microsoft Office
  • Reliability
  • Customer service skills
  • Business Principles
  • Desire to sit for long periods of time
  • Finger and joint dexterity

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a Data Entry Clerk make?

A data entry clerk makes around $32,000 a year.

It is possible to start out making less than that, and with advancements and pay raises, it is possible to make more than that.

Different states and cities also pay their data entry clerks differently.

Look around where you want to work to find out how much the average data entry clerk makes in your area.

Q. How to become a licensed Data Entry Clerk?

There is no licensing to become a data entry clerk.

You can obtain a certificate from a local college, but you do not need to be licensed in any state in order to work as a data entry clerk.

If you want to stick out from the crowd, it is suggested that you gain experience through training and working with companies.

Sometimes getting a license can take longer than the training at a job.

Q. How long does it take to become a Data Entry Clerk?

It can take between 6 months and a couple of years to become a data entry clerk.

When you gain a certificate, that can take around 3-6 months.

Getting an Associate’s degree can take you a couple of years.

Achieving an Associate’s degree can help you learn to do more tasks, but typically data entry clerks can go far without a degree.

Q. What does a Data Entry Clerk do?

A data entry clerk does just that, enters data into a computer.

Businesses like doctors offices, law firms, construction companies etc. higher data entry clerks to put information from paper form into an online database.

This could be receipts, customer information, business tasks, the list goes on.

This helps keep everything on track and organized.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Data Entry Clerk?

It can cost around $500-$1000 to get a certificate in order to become a data entry clerk.

It may cost more to get an Associate’s degree, but this step is not required.

Those that get a certificate learn as much as someone with an Associate’s degree.

An Associate’s degree may not be worth the cost of just receiving a certificate.

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One Comment
  1. Avatar for Anita Baston Anita Baston

    This is a very interesting and detailed description of this career. Thank you for sharing with all internet users!

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