Call Center Representative Careers

ENTRY LEVEL EDUCATION

High School Diploma

CAREER TRAINING

Distance Education Certification

NUMBER OF JOBS

338400

JOB OPENINGS

2,187,300

JOB GROWTH

15%

AVG. SALARY

$30,460 /yr

$14.64 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Call center representatives help customers place orders, provide information, and solve customer service issues over the phone. They might review and adjust accounts, resolve complaints, manage billing and payment issues, process orders, and research solutions to problems.

Most call center representatives operate using specific guidelines—sometimes a defined script—regarding customer requests and issues. They may research more difficult problems, or pass the customer to a supervisor if they are unable to resolve the request themselves. And while the job traditionally requires answering incoming calls, many customer representatives also provide customer help via email and live chat.

There are customer service representatives throughout almost all sectors and industries. While their basic job duties are similar across the board, some positions require specialized expertise—for instance, those working for banks and financial institutions must be able to counsel individual customers regarding their accounts; those in a technical field often provide troubleshooting support; and retail customer service workers may handle orders and work to upsell customers on further services and products.

How to Become a Customer Service Representative

This position usually requires at least a high school degree. Traditionally, customer service positions in more complex fields, requiring more specialized expertise, are more likely to require a college degree. However, some employers have begun increasingly requiring an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree even for less demanding customer service jobs—and earning a degree beyond the high school level can help you stand out.

Once you’re hired, you’ll undergo on-the-job training that usually lasts about three weeks. Most companies provide training in their products and services, how to answer the most common questions, and how to use the telephone and computer interfaces in the call center.

Some customer service reps are required to be licensed at the state level—particularly those working in the financial services or insurance industries. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but often include passing an exam at the minimum. Some licenses require continuing education.

Customer Service Representatives and Online Degrees

Although acceptance can vary depending on the company and often on the individual hiring manager, an accredited online degree is not likely to hold you back in this field. The requirements for education in this field in general are fairly low—and your online Bachelor’s degree will help you stand out from applicants with traditional Associate’s degrees or no more than a high school diploma.

Customer Service Representative Salary

Customer service representatives earned approximately $14.64 per hour on average according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook as of 2010. Those on the lower end of the pay scale earned as little as $9.40 per hour, while those at the top earned as much as $23.71. This job is usually hourly rather than salaried.

Customer Service Representative Job Outlook

Opportunities in this field are projected to grow 15% in the next decade according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook—keeping pace with the average growth for all occupations across the economy. The number of customer service representatives employed in telephone call centers, however, is forecasted to grow 46%—an incredibly high projected growth rate.

The high growth in this area is expected to be fueled by customer expectations for quality customer service, as well as industry growth. In addition, as companies seek to cut costs, many hire outsourced call centers rather than handling their customer service requirements in-house.

Growth in this area is negatively effected by both technologies that provide better automated customer contact and outsourcing to cheaper countries. However, many companies have faced a backlash from customers who prefer US-based service—and this has given many companies incentive to work with call centers in the US.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Call Center Representative

The education investment required for entry-level positions in this field is low—so it’s fairly easy to get started. However, the pay is fairly low as well, and many employees must work long hours. Night and weekend work is also not unusual, as many companies keep their call centers open on a twenty-four hour basis. 

As a customer service representative, you will usually work either in-house or in a call center that provides outsourced customer service for several or many corporate clients. In-house customer service jobs tend to offer higher pay and better potential for advancement, and the competition for these jobs is more intense than for those in outsourced call centers. In both roles, however, the job can be high-stress and require dealing with irate and difficult customers. As a result, turnover is often high.

This career often lends itself well to flexible work schedules, as many employers need representatives who can work outside of normal business hours. Many positions are part-time, which can be negative for those seeking full-time employment—but positive for those who need flexibility.

For Further Research:

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Customer Service Representatives

Where to Find Call Center Representative Jobs:

SimplyHired.com
Glassdoor.com

Monster.com