How to Become Telephone Operator

Even with technological advances, many telephone calls still require telephone operator assistance. Telephone operators are trained workers that manage telephone lines and provide the necessary information and assistance to callers.

What does a telephone operator do?

Telephone operators manage telephone lines for organizations. They help callers place collect calls, obtain basic information such as telephone numbers and addresses, and provide information about costs of calls. They obtain the necessary information to complete telephone calls and provide details to customers. Telephone operators often answer a large volume of telephone calls, sometimes hundreds a day. They keep records of calls and update directory information. Telephone operators often work for telephone companies, large businesses, and a variety of organizations. Telephone company operators often work as directory assistance operators or central office operators. Some telephone operators handle emergency calls or help people with disabilities in making telephone calls. Others monitor automated systems and provide assistance when necessary.

What kind of training does a telephone operator need?

Telephone operators must have at least a high school diploma or GED. High school courses in business mathematics, office practices, and speech are useful for those seeking positions as telephone operators. Telephone operators typically learn their skills through on the job training. They learn how to use the necessary telephone equipment, keep call records, and provide customer assistance. New telephone operators typically start out by observing experienced operators. They begin completing simple tasks and then move on to independent complex duties as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Telephone operators complete additional training as needed throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a telephone operator?

Employment of telephone operators is expected to decline slowly, decreasing 4% from 2008 to 2018 (1). Technological advances and increased automation in communications systems will limit job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be favorable due to the high occupational turnover rate. Telephone operators with previous work experience and familiarity with multi-line telephone systems will have the best job opportunities.

How much do telephone operators make?

As of March 2010, the average annual salary for telephone operators is $35,000; average annual telephone operator salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a telephone operator is a great choice for people with a strong interest in managing telephone lines for a variety of companies and organizations. Telephone operators must have a solid understanding of the necessary policies and procedures of operating telephone systems for their organization. Patience, detail orientation, good organizational skills, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Telephone operators must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills as well as a pleasant and clear voice. They must be able to work well under stress and pressure and have the ability to answer many telephone calls in a quick and efficient manner. They must also be able to handle a wide variety of callers and remain calm in stressful situations.

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