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Computer Operator

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Life As a Computer Operator

Career Description Monitor and control electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, engineering, and other data according to operating instructions. Monitor and respond to operating and error messages. May enter commands at a computer terminal and set controls on computer and peripheral devices.

A Day in the Life of a Computer Operator

  • Enter commands, using computer terminal, and activate controls on computer and peripheral equipment to integrate and operate equipment.
  • Type command on keyboard to transfer encoded data from memory unit to magnetic tape and assist in labeling, classifying, cataloging and maintaining tapes.
  • Notify supervisor or computer maintenance technicians of equipment malfunctions.
  • Supervise and train peripheral equipment operators and computer operator trainees.
  • Oversee the operation of computer hardware systems, including coordinating and scheduling the use of computer terminals and networks to ensure efficient use.
  • Read job set-up instructions to determine equipment to be used, order of use, material such as disks and paper to be loaded, and control settings.

Things a Computer Operator Should Know How to Do

When polled, Computer Operators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Other Computer Operator Job Titles

  • Input Output Clerk
  • Systems Operator
  • Desktop Engineer
  • Software Technician
  • Information Technology Associate

Computer Operator Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 51,500 jobs in the United States for Computer Operator. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Computer Operator. The BLS estimates 3,400 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Computer Operators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Computer Operator are Washington, Maryland, and Alaska. Watch out if you plan on working in Illinois, Ohio, or West Virginia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Computer Operator Make?

The salary for Computer Operators ranges between about $27,490 and $65,130 a year.

Salary Ranges for Computer Operators

Computer Operators who work in District of Columbia, Alaska, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

How much do Computer Operators make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $40,660
Alaska $57,770
Arizona $49,810
Arkansas $35,300
California $52,480
Colorado $48,470
Connecticut $50,970
Delaware $45,450
District of Columbia $60,100
Florida $46,370
Georgia $43,710
Hawaii $47,400
Idaho $45,040
Illinois $48,260
Indiana $42,000
Iowa $43,380
Kansas $49,130
Kentucky $45,890
Louisiana $38,490
Maine $48,260
Maryland $47,250
Massachusetts $52,030
Michigan $44,990
Minnesota $51,970
Mississippi $39,410
Missouri $41,320
Montana $36,780
Nebraska $45,380
Nevada $47,900
New Hampshire $52,000
New Jersey $45,130
New Mexico $44,920
New York $48,280
North Carolina $44,530
North Dakota $48,050
Ohio $42,280
Oklahoma $39,670
Oregon $48,060
Pennsylvania $45,150
Rhode Island $50,680
South Carolina $42,620
Tennessee $43,700
Texas $47,480
Utah $44,020
Vermont $43,580
Virginia $49,830
Washington $52,470
West Virginia $34,270
Wisconsin $48,350
Wyoming $41,010

What Tools do Computer Operators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Computer Operators:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Python
  • Microsoft Access
  • Email software
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Structured query language SQL
  • Linux
  • IBM Notes
  • UNIX
  • Practical extraction and reporting language Perl
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • IBM Power Systems software

How to Become a Computer Operator

What kind of Computer Operator requirements are there?

Computer Operator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Computer Operator Work Experience

Where do Computer Operators Work?

Computer Operator Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Computer Operator Industries

You May Also Be Interested In…

Career changers with experience as a Computer Operator sometimes find work in one of the following fields:

References:

Image Credit: Kenneth Jensen via Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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