What (and How) Do Data Entry Jobs Pay?

Data entry is a legit way to work at home, but it won't make you rich

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Data entry is one of those jobs that's pretty much what it sounds like—the entry of clear and concise data into one or more platforms so that it's easily accessible and understandable to others. Those others might be humans or computer systems.

It's an organizational process, moving information from one format into another, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a business or organization that doesn't need to consolidate and organize its relevant data. The position is sometimes referred to as a "data entry clerk" or a "keyer."

Skills Required

A data entry clerk should be a skilled typist and is typically required to pass a keyboarding test prior to being hired. He should also be able to interpret and understand multiple sources of data, from scribblings on paper to website responses. The job might include verbal transactions and entering data from recordings.

He should also be familiar enough with the type of data he's working with that he can pick up on inconsistencies and other issues.

Some data entry work can require additional skills and responsibilities, such as verifying data or editing, and these jobs typically pay more. The rate will be higher if it's paid on a per-piece basis, but it will take more time to perform, so the overall pay could be less for someone who is not as skilled.

Education Requirements

Data entry clerks typically do not need postsecondary education or degrees. A high school diploma or GED is satisfactory, although some community colleges and vocational schools do offer certificate programs in this field. Holding a certificate might not be necessary, but it will look good on a resume and set you a step or two ahead of other candidates for a position.

The Effect of Experience

Job duties can vary somewhat depending on level of experience. New data entry clerks might only be expected to enter accurate data as quickly as possible. Volume is often as much of a goal as precision.

More experienced data entry clerks might be expected to interpret and channel recorded information to the proper supervisor or department, and even oversee other clerks, all while maintaining lightning speed with their own workloads.

Data Entry Salary Information

Data entry salary information can vary considerably based on a lot of different factors, including your status as an employee or an independent contractor, the difficulty and skill level required by the position, and the speed at which you can do the job. But overall, data entry jobs generally pay modest wages. Any organization that promises big salaries for data entry jobs is more than likely a data entry scam.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data entry keyers—not transcriptionists or typists—are paid a mean hourly wage of nearly $15.64 an hour as of mid-2017, from a low of $10.37 an hour for new hires up to $22.24 an hour for a more experienced worker employed by a generous company. This works out to about $32,530 annually, but salaries can depend heavily on the area where you work and live.

Five states are known for ample data entry jobs as well as paying a decent wage, according to the BLS: California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida.

These wage figures apply to employment jobs in brick-and-mortar offices, not necessarily data entry from home. And most work-at-home data entry jobs are not employment positions but independent contracting. 

Pay for data entry from home can range considerably, from as little as $1 per hour up to the average rate for an office-based data entry operator. Of course, no jobs will advertise $1-per-hour work, but the complicated per-piece pay structures can actually work out to be that little.

Data Entry Pay Structures

Data entry pays using a variety of rate structures, including an hourly rate, per-piece payment, keystrokes per hour, or keystrokes per minute. The job might also pay per work or per audio minute.

These other pay structures are designed to pay more to faster, more experienced data entry operators. But a worker must earn at least the minimum wage in the state in which the work is performed in employment positions in the U.S. that pay in any structure other than an hourly wage.

Transcription jobs are sometimes advertised as data entry. These jobs can sometimes require more skill and accuracy so they'll pay more than simple data entry keying jobs.

Work-at-Home vs. Office Data Entry Job Salaries

Data entry jobs from home are likely to pay less than data entry in an office. It's not simply a matter of home-based workers often being willing to earn less in exchange for working from home. Data entry from home is almost always performed by independent contractors who aren't subject to minimum wage laws. These jobs might be in competition with other global jobs from home or microlabor positions, which can also lower pay rates.

The way in which data entry work is sent to home-based workers can also affect pay. Workers who log on to crowdsourcing or microlabor sites might not be able to obtain enough pieces of work in an hour to make a good wage.

Job Growth

Significant job growth isn't expected in this field due to advancements in technology that in many respects are replacing human fingers. Additionally, many companies are beginning to offshore these duties, farming them out to remote, third-party companies in countries where labor is cheaper. Job growth in the U.S. is expected to drop by about 2 percent in the decade from 2016 to 2026.