Data entry sounds simple. And yes, it’s a clerical role involving information processing – but don’t let that fool you. There are thousands of different types of data entry jobs and they range enormously in their level of skill requirements!
Whether you’re putting together a job spec for a new recruit or exploring employment vacancies, you must know the difference between transcription, editing, and data cleaning, which can all be aspects of a Data Entry job. Don’t worry if that’s not crystal clear yet, we’ll run you through all of these types of positions so you know exactly the type of data entry job you’re looking for.
Basic Data Entry Roles
Let’s start with the more straightforward roles and the kind of posts you might be considering, especially if you’re looking to use transferable skills such as touch typing.
A skilled administrative data entry freelancer will type around 20-30 words per minute as a minimum, so they’ll carve through your admin workload!
Industry reports from Business Wire predict that the freelance data entry market will grow by an incredible $351.84 million by 2023, so there’s little doubt these skills are beyond valuable.
Basic Data Entry Skills Are Split Into Four Main Categories:
- Simple Data Entry
- Typist Positions
- Word Processing
- Data Cleaning
We’ll break each down a bit more, so you can see the type of responsibilities included in each data entry role.
Simple Data Entry
Plain data entry is your starter level. This type of job means typing data into a text file, usually Microsoft Word, and converting figures or text from a PDF into an editable document.
Next up, a typist position is typically based around spreadsheets. The data entry professional will type data into cells, often copying the data over from other information systems or reports.
As a data entry typist, you won’t generally need to know anything about formulas or technical manipulations – the job is all about speed and accuracy and getting those figures ready for analysis.
In the world of data entry, word processing is a slightly higher skill level. Requirements can often involve anything from creating letters to mailing information and reports. Essential criteria for word processing includes:
- Excellent grammar and vocabulary
- Abilities to create tables, graphs, and charts
Lastly, an entry-level data entry applicant can work on data cleaning or “data scrubbing”. There aren’t any mops or buckets involved, though! Data cleaning means identifying and removing – or amending – incorrect data from information located in a database or table. For example, suppose you collate customer feedback ratings out of five, but an odd one is recorded as an anomalously higher figure. In that case, you’d either need to check the system and correct the error or remove the data altogether if it can’t be verified.
Online Data Entry Jobs
Online data entry is ideal for contractors working remotely or companies that don’t have the capacity or the need for in-house hires. Just as with basic positions, there are a few different remits.
Online Form Filling and Surveys
The amounts of data collected online are vast. Data entry clerks can sort through those massive data banks to enter values into online forms or perform tasks such as completing surveys.
Micro Data Entry
Micro data entry is a pretty new area and helps plug the labor gap where businesses need smaller pieces of work performed – often a quick task, but one that’s repeated multiple times.
- Captcha entry involves solving the Captcha puzzle (or, more often, hundreds a day!), selecting corresponding images or sliding grids to align.
- Copy and paste roles mean removing data from one format and pasting it to another – but excellent English is vital to avoid errors.
- Captioning is a bridge between data entry and content writing and is very common in media. The role means writing captions, alt image texts, or headings for graphics to be featured online.
Data Formatting Positions
Now, most of the positions we’ve looked at so far are solely about working with existing data. Kicking it up a notch, the next level of freelancer can challenge, adjust, or manipulate that data to make it more beneficial to your business.
Formatting and Reformatting Data
Data formatting is much more about adjusting the data than entering it, but is still categorized as data entry. Formatting can be as complex or straightforward as you would like, and can include:
- Changing fonts, alignments, and indentations.
- Formatting address fields, email info, or phone numbers.
- Correcting grammar and spotting spelling mistakes.
A data entry technician might work on large grids of data, often formatting entire documents or catalogs of information at a time.
Converting Data Files
Information isn’t solely digits and text. We also capture data through images, audio, and video files. Data conversion means just that – taking an image or a piece of audio recording and converting it into text.
Transcription Data Management
Finally, we’ll talk about transcription, a data entry skill ordinarily used in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. This role is perhaps one of the most advanced since a great transcriptionist will need to grasp complex medical terminology, plus the role usually requires shorthand, and has zero leeway for misunderstandings.
A medical transcriptionist will convert audio files into text documents to create a consultation, procedure, or observation record. Medical coding takes that further and involves taking confidential data and assigning appropriate codes to each element. For example, there may be a system code formatted alphanumerically for each procedure, service, department, or diagnosis. These positions are at the top end of the data entry skill spectrum. Most professional medical coders or transcriptionists will have years of expertise!
As we’ve explored throughout this article, there are thousands of variations of data entry positions. They range from simple typing roles to professional level jobs requiring high speed, experience, and accuracy. Choosing the right role, or advertising for the appropriate level of data entry clerk, is essential to getting the right candidate. Since this type of work inherently leaves zero room for error, it’s worth doing your research and perfecting that job spec right from the start.