Data Entry Guide for Business Owners and Professionals
Data entry is one of the most common tasks handed off to virtual and administrative assistants. It’s a project that can easily be handed off because it doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of the business or its operations—and it frees business owners up to focus on other things like growing the business.
So whether you’re a business owner looking to delegate your data entry needs or a data entry pro, there’s a lot to know about hiring and getting hired in the field of data entry.
In the guide below, we cover both sides of the fence:
- Info for business owners who need help with data entry and
- Industry info for current and aspiring data entry professionals
For Business Owners Who Need Help With Data Entry
For many business owners, data entry can feel like part of the job—just another one of the many hats you wear to keep your business running and growing. But regardless of your data entry use case, there’s a really good chance it doesn’t have to be you who does it.
While some kinds of data entry can be automated using software, there are still some technological kinks to be worked out for other types of data entry.
That’s why delegating your data entry to another human is still the best way to offload data entry while ensuring it gets done quickly and accurately.
Below, we explain:
- Some of the biggest benefits of delegating data entry to a virtual assistant (VA)
- Common data entry use cases they can handle
- Typical costs for hiring a VA for data entry
- Frequently asked questions about working with a VA for data entry tasks
Delegate Your Data Entry Needs to a Virtual Assistant
In our (admittedly biased) view, the best solution for data entry is to outsource those tasks and projects to a virtual assistant. There are a handful of key benefits that outsourcing data entry to a VA holds over both doing it yourself and automating it.
To start, delegating your data entry releases you from the mundane work of spreadsheets, speed-typing, and copy/paste. Once you hand the process off to a VA, you don’t have to think about it anymore. That brings us to the second benefit of outsourcing: it frees you up to work on more important, big picture aspects of the business (like revenue-producing activities).
On top of that, when you delegate data entry to a VA, it becomes someone’s main responsibility to keep your data up to date—not your side job or a task one of your employees might maybe get to someday. It becomes your VA’s job to ensure your data is up to date, accurate, and where it needs to be, so data entry is less likely to fall through the cracks.
Lastly, working with a VA to handle your data entry brings a fresh pair of eyes to your current process. That makes it easier for them to identify and suggest additional ways to streamline your data entry process and make it more efficient.
Common Data Entry Use Cases
If you’re wondering whether your data entry needs and use case can be handled by a VA, we hear you. It can be hard to know what a VA can and can’t handle if you’ve never worked with a virtual assistant before. And when your head is buried in your own existing data entry process, it can be hard to imagine handing it off to someone else.
Below, we outline some common use cases our VAs have handled here at Delegated—to help you get a sense of whether your needs fall into that category or not. Some of the most common industries our VAs work in include:
In addition to those common industry use cases, there are other miscellaneous data entry tasks and scenarios our VAs handle frequently. They include things like:
- Gathering info about the $600 unemployment boost related to COVID-19 relief. The request asked for state and date of implementation, as well as the usual contact log for mail-merging, etc.
- Data entry and research to find stores for a client to sell their product in
- Collecting and entering email addresses for government representatives to send a large mailing to, or from store customer’s profile with input into Mailchimp
- Creating a list of a client’s LinkedIn connections (all 6,000 of them!) and entering email addresses for a marketing campaign
- Building a spreadsheet of all the marketing and technology conferences in the US for the 2020 calendar year, including links, dates, locations, pricing, and vendors attending
Costs of Delegating Data Entry to a VA
Once you’ve figured out that a VA can handle your data entry, you’re probably wondering about how much it costs to work with a VA. The short answer is that it varies—a lot.
Typically, virtual assistants are hired and paid based on an hourly rate. When you work with a VA, that hourly rate is the only cost you need to worry about. When you contrast that with all of the costs involved in hiring a full-time employee (salary, health insurance and benefits, payroll and employment taxes, office space, etc.), the simplicity and cost savings of delegating your data entry to a VA become crystal clear.
Broadly speaking, virtual assistants typically earn up to $60/hour—but there’s a lot of variation below that top line. So much so that the mean hourly rate for a VA is actually around $20/hour globally.
That said, it’s important to keep your needs in mind when estimating realistic costs for hiring a VA. For example, if you need a VA who has specialized skills (like graphic design or working knowledge of medical codes) or a lot of experience, you should generally expect to pay a higher hourly rate.
If you’d like a US-based VA, again, you should expect to pay more. Non-US based virtual assistants can have more affordable hourly rates, but it’s important to consider the trade-offs there, including potential time-zone, working-hour, and communication issues.
Having a dedicated virtual assistant—someone available to you always, whenever need arises—also likely raises the rate you can expect.
So there’s a lot to consider when pricing out VA help. To make things easy, let’s use our most popular plan (the Executive 24 package) to calculate hourly and yearly costs. The Executive 24 package gives you access to a dedicated VA for 24 hours each month and costs $1,080. That breaks out to $45/hour. Over the course of a year, you get access to 288 hours of VA time for only $12,960—much less than an employee would cost.
If you work with a Delegated VA, that’s all you pay—and we handle all the other costs of hiring, on-boarding, and training your virtual assistant.
Wait—how does this work?
If you’re still feeling unsure about outsourcing your data entry to a Delegated VA, we get it. Here are a few of the questions we hear frequently about working with our VAs.
How does all this work?
Your Delegated VA will be at your beck and call anytime you need them. They’ll work inside your existing data entry processes, tools, and systems. They can handle regular and ongoing data entry and take on additional, one-time data entry projects. You can learn more about the process and how it works here.
Will my VA know how to do my data entry?
To start, your VA will base their process on the information you provide to them. They’ll enter any data you ask for in any system you specify. As the relationship progresses, your dedicated VA will master your process and tools—plus, they’ll be able to make recommendations for how to tweak and improve your system.
Am I locked into any particular data entry tools?
Nope! As long as you can show them the ropes, Delegated VAs can work in any tools or systems you prefer.
How do I communicate with my VA?
In short: However you want. Your Delegated VA will communicate with you in whichever way you prefer. Whether that’s chatting via Slack, text, email, phone, or carrier pigeon, your VA will work and communicate according to your stated preference.
For Current and Aspiring Data Entry Professionals
If you’re looking for work in the field of data entry, it can be hard to know where to start. Data entry isn’t always considered its own industry, so resources on the skills needed and how to build a winning resume in the field are harder to come by.
That said, there are tons of companies and VA firms looking for data entry pros, so there’s definitely no lack of work in the field.
To help you score some of that work, we cover all the basics for current and aspiring data entry pros below, including:
- What data entry really is, plus pros and cons of working in data entry
- Key data entry skills you need to have (and advertise)
- Salary expectations for data entry jobs
- Examples of data entry resumes
- Sample data entry job descriptions
- 10 companies currently hiring for data entry roles
What is data entry?
Data entry is a broad field and a term that can mean a lot of different things. At its core, data entry is the process of entering information into a computer system. That data often—but not always—comes from written paper documents.
Today, data entry encompasses a lot more than just transcribing written information into a computer. It can also include online research gathering, entering customer email addresses into email marketing software, centralizing data from across analytics tools into one centralized spreadsheet or dashboard, and more.
(For more detailed examples of the data entry tasks and scenarios virtual assistants commonly handle, jump back up to the section on Common Data Entry Use Cases.)
Pros and Cons of Working in Data Entry
Like any field, working in data entry comes with its own host of benefits and drawbacks. In brief, here are some of the biggest pros and cons to this type of work.
- Data entry can almost always be done remotely, so you can work from anywhere you choose.
- If you’re working remotely or from home, you can often make your own hours, too.
- As a data entry professional, you can easily turn your dayjob into a broader business—servicing multiple clients and/or expanding into other administrative duties.
- Data entry allows you to earn a competitive hourly rate and offers plenty of growth potential as you gain experience and/or specialized skills and knowledge.
- With some data entry roles, you may not be able to choose the type of work you do—so you may end up doing data entry for projects that aren’t very fun or interesting to you.
- Since data entry tends to be repetitive, output-focused work, you may run into issues with burnout as your career goes on.
Key Data Entry Skills
If you’re thinking the pros outweigh the cons of data entry roles, you might be wondering about the kind of skills you’ll need to have in order to succeed in this field. While the required skills will vary based on the industry you work in, the type of data entry, and the individual company or client, there are some common skills data entry pros need to have.
ZipRecruiter analyzed more than 9 million job listings on their platform to identify the most requested skills companies are looking for when hiring for data entry roles. Here are the top 10 data entry skills they found:
- Previous data entry experience
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills
- Customer service
- Clerical skills
- MS Office
- Administrative assistant
- Writing skills
Indeed has also outlined some broader categories of skills that data entry professionals need to have. Here are 5 of the categories they identified:
- Basic software skills: Data entry pros need to have proficiency with many different kinds of basic software—because you’ll work regularly with everything from word processors, to databases to spreadsheets and related software.
- Written and verbal communication skills: “Data entry professionals must communicate often with inside and outside teams and provide feedback on any issues they may encounter with incorrect data or other database issues.”
- Typing skills: Typing is the quintessential skill for data entry pros. You need to be able to type, not only quickly, but accurately and efficiently, in order to perform the large amount of output required. As Indeed notes, “Many employers expect an average typing speed of 30 to 40 words per minute.”
- Self-motivation: Since data entry can often be done remotely with minimal supervision, it’s important that you have strong self-motivation to complete work that can often be mundane and repetitive.
- Attention to detail: This one goes without saying—detail, completeness, and accuracy are the most important requirements for any data entry task.
Here at Delegated, we regularly hire virtual assistants to perform data entry tasks, too. Our hiring team told us they often look for applicants with at least a few years of administrative assistant experience, specifically experience working with C-level executives and managers.
We also like to hire for a wide range of experience (so our VAs can meet a wealth of individual client needs), with an added emphasis on VAs with customer service, reception, and retail experience.
Data Entry Salary Expectations and Benchmarks
Like any job, salaries and hourly rates can vary a lot depending on specialized skills, education level, years of experience, and tenure with the company, among other factors. That said, it can be helpful to have some kind of benchmark to work with—for planning and negotiating purposes—so let’s look at the information available.
For part-time, contract, or freelance data entry work, pay is typically based on an hourly rate.
According to ZipRecruiter’s research, the average hourly rate for a data entry professional in the U.S. is around $20/hour. And data from The VA Handbook shows that data entry VAs can even command as much as $60/hour.
If you’re looking for a full-time data entry role, you can expect to be paid based on a regular annual salary instead of an hourly rate. ZipRecruiter notes that the average yearly salary for data entry pros in the U.S. is $41,568.
For data entry pros who expand to handle additional administrative projects, administrative and executive assistant roles boast even higher annual earning potential—even approaching $69,000 - 80,000/year according to ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor.
Data Entry Resume Examples and Best Practices
Like any role, when you build a resume for data entry roles, you should follow these best practices:
- Tailor your resume to each company or specific role
- Keep it brief, organized, and easily skimmable
- Use language that speaks to the skills above (and any listed in the individual job listing)
- Explain prior data entry experience in terms of outcomes, not tasks
To see those best practices in action (and find templates to get your data entry resume started), take a look at the sample resumes below.
- Sample and template from Monster:
- Sample and templates from Indeed:
- You can find more tips and templates from Zety, too
Examples of Data Entry Job Descriptions
In the last section, we mentioned tailoring your resume to each individual company, role, and job description. In order to do that, it’s helpful to look at some sample job descriptions and get a sense of the desired skills, job descriptions and responsibilities companies often look for in a data entry hire.
Below, we’ve pulled 3 different examples of real data entry job listings. In this case, these companies are looking for a Data Entry Clerk, but other common data entry roles and job titles include, among others:
- Data entry specialist
- Virtual data entry position
- Data entry operator
- Data entry clerk
- Information clerk
- Records management analyst
- Material recording clerk
While reading through the job descriptions below, you may note how data entry roles and responsibilities often spill over into more specialized functions and additional administrative tasks. Some common threads among the job responsibilities companies seek include:
- Data entry (of course)
- Accounts receivable and accounts payable functions
- Spreadsheet organization
- Data back-ups
- Quality control
- Filling out and filing paperwork
With those responsibilities in mind, many of the data entry job listings we’ve seen look for qualifications and experience like:
- High school or GED Equivalent
- Some college and/or college degree
- Applicable data entry or administrative experience
- Strong command of the English language
- Typing skills (both speed and accuracy)
- Detail oriented
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to self-manage and meet deadlines
Many companies also look for data entry professionals who have experience and aptitude with the technology and software they use. Common tech experience requests include:
- Popular project and database management tools
- Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
- Google apps (Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Calendar)
- CRM tools (Hubspot, Salesforce, AirTable, etc.)
- Email marketing software (Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc.)
- Accounting software (Quickbooks, Wave, etc.)
Read more or apply on ZipRecruiter
Read more or apply on Indeed
Read more or apply on Indeed
Companies Hiring for Data Entry Roles
Now that you know what to expect and how to build a resume and skill-set that are perfect for data entry and admin roles, are you ready to go find one? There are tons of data entry roles available today, even with the current hiring and job atmosphere created by the COVID-19 pandemic. To make things really easy, we’ve pulled together some companies currently hiring for data entry roles in the U.S.
VA and Staffing Firms
These companies provide VAs and data entry pros to other companies, and they’re more likely to be hiring for data entry roles on an ongoing basis.
- Delegated (that’s right—we’re always looking for new virtual assistants to add to our team!)
- Red Butler
- Get Friday
- Fancy Hands
Companies With Open Data Entry Roles
- Citizens Bank
- Clinical Science Laboratory
- Total Building Care
- Apex Focus Group
- U.S. Army Reserve (enlistment required)