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Summary

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Quick Facts: Customer Service Representatives
2018 Median Pay $33,750 per year
$16.23 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2018 2,972,600
Job Outlook, 2018-28 -2% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2018-28 -51,600

What Customer Service Representatives Do

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

Work Environment

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Most work full time.

How to Become a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma and are trained on the job. They should be good at communicating with people and adept at using computers.

Pay

The median hourly wage for customer service representatives was $16.23 in May 2018.

Job Outlook

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent from 2018 to 2028. There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for customer service representatives.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of customer service representatives with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about customer service representatives by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Customer Service Representatives Do About this section

Customer service representatives
Customer service representatives listen and respond to customers' questions.

Customer service representatives work with customers to resolve complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

Duties

Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Listen to customers’ questions and concerns and provide answers or responses
  • Provide information about products and services
  • Take orders, calculate charges, and process billing or payments
  • Review customer accounts and make changes, if necessary
  • Handle returns or complaints
  • Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
  • Refer customers to supervisors or more experienced employees

Customer service representatives answer questions or requests from customers or the public. They typically provide services by phone, but some also interact with customers face to face, by email or text, via live chat, and through social media.

The specific duties of customer service representatives vary by industry. For example, representatives who work in banks may answer customers’ questions about their accounts. Representatives who work for utility and telecommunications companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Those who work in retail stores often handle returns, process refunds, and help customers locate items. Although selling a product or service is not their main job, representatives may help generate sales while providing information.

Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer the phone and use computers to explore solutions for customers.

Work Environment About this section

Customer service representatives
Many customer service representatives work in call centers.

Customer service representatives held about 3.0 million jobs in 2018. The largest employers of customer service representatives were as follows:

Retail trade 14%
Insurance carriers and related activities 12
Business support services 11
Wholesale trade 7
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Representatives in offices may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the area can be noisy. Working from home is also possible in some companies. Representatives may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work may be stressful when representatives must interact with dissatisfied customers

In retail stores, representatives may spend hours on their feet assisting customers in person.

Work Schedules

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

How to Become a Customer Service Representative About this section

Customer service representatives
Customer service representatives should be good at communicating and interacting with people and have some experience using computers.

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to learn the specific skills needed for the job. They should be good at communicating and interacting with people and should be adept at using computers.

Education

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Customer service representatives usually receive short-term on-the-job training, which typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn complicated financial regulations.

General customer-service training may focus on procedures for answering questions, information about a company’s products and services, and computer and telephone use. Trainees often receive guidance from an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.

In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, customer service representatives must stay current with changing regulations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Customer service representatives who provide information about finance and insurance may need a state license. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they usually include passing an exam. Some employers and organizations provide training for these exams.

Advancement

With experience, customer service representatives may advance to supervisory roles.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Customer service representatives must be able to provide clear information in writing, by phone, or in person.

Computer skills. Customer service representatives must be adept at using computers.  

Customer-service skills. Representatives help companies retain customers by professionally answering questions and helping to resolve complaints.

Interpersonal skills. Representatives should be able to create positive interactions with customers.

Listening skills. Representatives must listen carefully to ensure that they understand customers in order to assist them.

Patience. Representatives should be patient and polite, especially when interacting with dissatisfied customers.

Problem-solving skills. Representatives must determine solutions to customers’ problems. By doing so, representatives contribute to customer loyalty and retention.

Pay About this section

Customer Service Representatives

Median hourly wages, May 2018

Total, all occupations

$18.58

Customer service representatives

$16.23

Information and record clerks

$15.91

 

The median hourly wage for customer service representatives was $16.23 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.65, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.59.

In May 2018, the median hourly wages for customer service representatives in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Wholesale trade $18.47
Insurance carriers and related activities 17.88
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17.74
Business support services 13.78
Retail trade 12.93

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

Job Outlook About this section

Customer Service Representatives

Percent change in employment, projected 2018-28

Total, all occupations

5%

Information and record clerks

0%

Customer service representatives

-2%

 

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent from 2018 to 2028.

There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated. Internet self-service or interactive voice-response systems, social media, and mobile applications are increasingly popular because they enable customers to perform simple tasks without speaking to a representative. Improvements in technology will gradually allow these automated systems to perform even more advanced tasks. Some companies will continue to use in-house service centers to differentiate themselves from competitors, particularly for complex inquiries such as refunding accounts or confirming insurance coverage.

However, jobs for customer service representatives are projected to be added in business support services, which includes telephone call centers. Some businesses will contract out their customer service operations to telephone call centers because the call centers provide consolidated sales and customer service functions.

Job Prospects

Despite the projected decline in employment, job prospects for customer service representatives are expected to be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Employment projections data for customer service representatives, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Customer service representatives

43-4051 2,972,600 2,921,000 -2 -51,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of customer service representatives.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2018 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations.

See How to Become One $53,470
Financial clerks

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks do administrative work, keep records, help customers, and carry out financial transactions.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,570
Information clerks

Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $34,520
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,600
Receptionists

Receptionists

Receptionists do tasks such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing information about their organization to the public.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,140
Retail sales workers

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments.

No formal educational credential $24,340
Tellers

Tellers

Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,450
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

See How to Become One $61,660
General office clerks

General Office Clerks

General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.

High school diploma or equivalent $32,730
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Customer Service Representatives,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/customer-service-representatives.htm (visited November 07, 2019).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2018

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2018, which is the base year of the 2018-28 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2018-28

The projected percent change in employment from 2018 to 2028. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2018-28

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2018-28

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2018 to 2028.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2018 to 2028.

2018 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2018, the median annual wage for all workers was $38,640.