Becoming a Data Processing Specialist: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a data processing specialist career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a data processing specialist is right for you.
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A Data Processing Specialist Career: Pros and Cons

Data processing specialists are a type of computer operator with job requirements and duties that vary widely depending on the specialist's industry. Learn more about the pros and cons of this career by reviewing the information below.

Pros of a Data Processing Specialist Career
Can work in a variety of industries with data needs. **
Some jobs only require a high school diploma*
Work offers independence, allowing employees to work alone and make personalized decisions. **
Offers the ability to help other people through technical support. **

Cons of a Data Processing Specialist Career
Employment is projected to decline moderately, down 17% from 2012 to 2022. *
Some jobs require an associate's degree (or higher) and/or extensive on the job training. *
Many complex tasks requiring a high level of attention to detail. **
Some positions involve dealing with technical errors, which can be stressful. **

Sources: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** U.S. Department of Labor O*Net Online

Career Info

Data processing specialists use their technical skills to enter, analyze and utilize a company's data. Data rich industries in need of these specialized workers include business, engineering and science. Depending on your position and industry, you may need to troubleshoot error messages and aid in computer database technical support.

Salary Statistics and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of computer operators was projected to decline by 17% during the decade spanning 2012 to 2022. The BLS also stated that computer operators who work in the data processing and hosting industry made a mean annual income of $40,570 in 2014. The same year, the bottom 10% of all computer operators made a median annual income of $23,140 and the top 10% made $60,130.

What Are the Requirements?

The requirements are different depending on the type of data you work with and the needs of your employer. Generally, computer operators need on the job training and some college coursework, an associate degree or a bachelor's degree. You'll need to be able to pay attention to detail, manage time and work quickly.

Job Postings From Real Employers

Employers want data processing specialists with industry experience. Educational requirements can range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree. To give you an idea of current employer needs, here are some job postings from the May 2012 job boards:

  • An educational research company in New Hampshire advertised for a data processor to help maintain its student database. Qualifications included a bachelor's degree, three to seven years experience and the ability to use the company's preferred programming platforms and languages.
  • In New York, a technology consulting and support company was looking for a data processing specialist and analyst to perform all facets of the company's data processing and related procedures. Qualifications included a bachelor's degree in computer science (or an associate degree with equivalent experience), overtime availability and superior organizational skills.
  • A Kansas environmental maintenance firm wanted a data processing manager to oversee data processing technicians. This position required a Bachelor of Science in Geography (or similar) degree, substantial data processing knowledge and management experience.
  • A Pennsylvania school system advertised for a data processing representative to help with a wide range of data needs, including data entry, application screening and grade submission. Requirements included a high school education and previous experience with office work.
  • A risk management firm in New York wanted a data processing assistant to enter data using the company's custom software. This position required a high school diploma and strong computer skills.

How Can I Stand Out?

Top notch technology skills and industry experience can give you an edge in the field. You're definitely going to want to get some college coursework, working towards an associate or bachelor's degree. There's a wide variance of qualifications for these positions, so you'll need to figure out what type of data you'd like to work with and then work toward the qualifications for your chosen type of data processing. You may want to gain industry experience in data entry or office administration.

Alternative Fields

You might like computer operations, but you're not sure if becoming a data processing specialist is right for you. If that's the case, consider becoming a health records technician or a desktop publisher.

Health Information Technician

Health information technicians manage patient data at hospitals and doctor's offices. They review records and maintain the privacy of patient information. Health information technicians need a professional certificate or an associate degree. According to the BLS, employment of health information technicians will grow faster than average, about 21% during the 2010 to 2020 decade. Health information technicians made a median annual wage of $33,310 in 2011.

Desktop Publisher

Desktop publishers use computers to create print layouts for magazines, newspapers and books. Qualifications for this position often include an associate degree and computer skills. The BLS projects a 15% decline in the employment of desktop publishers during the 2010 to 2020 decade. In 2011, desktop publishers made a median annual income of $36,800.

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Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Network Security
  • Associate's - Network Security

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • Master - Information Technology Management

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Northcentral University

  • PhD Technology and Innovation Management Data Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science
  • MS Technology and Innovation Management Data Science
  • Master of Science in Data Science

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)

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Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Computer Science - Big Data Analytics (Executive Format)
  • MS - Computer Science - Data Science
  • BS - Business Administration Data Analytics

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American InterContinental University

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  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

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