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What Does it Take to Be a Telephone Operator?

Position Description Provide information by accessing alphabetical, geographical, or other directories. Assist customers with special billing requests, such as charges to a third party and credits or refunds for incorrectly dialed numbers or bad connections. May handle emergency calls and assist children or people with physical disabilities to make telephone calls.

A Day in the Life of a Telephone Operator

  • Calculate and quote charges for services such as long-distance connections.
  • Operate paging systems or other systems of bells or buzzers to notify recipients of incoming calls.
  • Suggest and check alternate spellings, locations, or listing formats to customers lacking details or complete information.
  • Observe signal lights on switchboards, and dial or press buttons to make connections.
  • Provide relay service for hearing-impaired users.
  • Keep records of calls placed and received, and of related toll charges.

Telephone Operator Skills

Below is a list of the skills most Telephone Operators say are important on the job.

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.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

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

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

Types of Telephone Operator Jobs

  • Toll Operator
  • Long Lines Operator
  • Service Assistant
  • Change Number Operator
  • Switchboard Operator

Job Opportunities for Telephone Operators

There were about 9,100 jobs for Telephone Operator in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Telephone Operator. There will be an estimated 900 positions for Telephone Operator per year.

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

The states with the most job growth for Telephone Operator are Alaska, Utah, and Idaho. Watch out if you plan on working in Delaware, Tennessee, or New Jersey. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Telephone Operator Make?

The salary for Telephone Operators ranges between about $23,160 and $60,610 a year.

Salary Ranges for Telephone Operators

Telephone Operators who work in New York, Hawaii, or District of Columbia, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Telephone Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $35,510
California $41,900
Connecticut $44,010
District of Columbia $44,150
Florida $32,020
Georgia $33,860
Hawaii $44,040
Illinois $40,150
Indiana $40,590
Iowa $29,880
Louisiana $33,040
Maryland $36,790
Massachusetts $36,570
Michigan $28,610
Minnesota $39,470
Missouri $31,950
Nevada $31,110
New York $48,270
Ohio $35,750
Pennsylvania $39,040
Tennessee $27,610
Texas $34,410
Virginia $43,480

What Tools & Technology do Telephone Operators Use?

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

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Data entry software
  • Word processing software
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Handheld computer device software
  • Computer aided dispatch software

How to Become a Telephone Operator

Education needed to be a Telephone Operator:

Telephone Operator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Telephone Operator Work Experience

Telephone Operators Sector

Telephone Operator Sectors

Below are examples of industries where Telephone Operators work:

Telephone Operator Industries

Those interested in being a Telephone Operator may also be interested in:


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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