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Computer Operators picture    Computer Operators image

Computer Operators

Computer operators oversee the operation of computer hardware systems and make sure the machines are used efficiently and securely. Computer operators may work with mainframes, networks of personal computers and minicomputers. They control the console of a mainframe digital computer or a collection of minicomputers. They set the controls of computers in order to run computer tasks.

A larger number of computer operators are dealing with minicomputers and personal computers. They work with operating instructions that were developed by computer programmers, operations managers or users. They also solve problems that happen during computer operations. The duties performed by a computer operator vary by the policies of the employer, the size of the installation and the types of equipment being utilized.

A computer operator working with a personal computer network assists a network administrator in making sure all network connections are in place and the organization's network and servers are running properly. They may also help employees connect computer peripherals and set up new computers.

Some sample job titles are operations and maintenance technician, information technology specialist, computer console operator, computer specialist, systems operator and computer technician.

Responsibilities

  • Oversee the operation of computer hardware systems
  • Load equipment with supplies
  • Retrieve and sort program output and send data to specific users
  • Monitor the control console and respond to computer and operating messages
  • After receiving an error message, locate and solve the problems or terminate the program
  • Monitor the system for performance errors and equipment failures
  • Enter commands using a computer terminal
  • Maintain logbooks of operating records
  • Notify computer maintenance technicians or supervisors of equipment malfunctions
  • Answer telephone calls to help computer users that are having problems

Job Characteristics

Computer operators usually work in well-ventilated comfortable rooms. Due to many companies utilizing their computers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, computer operators may work evening or night shifts and during the weekends. However, due to the increasing use of automated operations there may be a decrease in the need for shift work since computers can take over operations during the undesirable work hours.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a minus 19 percent employment growth for computer operators from 2008 to 2018. Sophisticated software combined with robotics allows computers to perform many basic tasks that used to be performed by computer operators. Loading and downloading programs, scheduling, running periodic reports and rerouting messages can usually be accomplished without a computer operator.

With advances in technology, the duties of many computer operators are moving to areas including user support, network operations and database maintenance. Individuals that have formal computer education, have knowledge about a variety of operating systems and about the newest technology will have the best employment opportunities. In addition, the median annual earnings for computer operators in 2008 was $35,600.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Employers typically require only a high school diploma for computer operators. They receive on-the-job training. Many computer operators seek to advance to other positions in the field of information technology within a few years.

Resources

Major Employers

The primary employers are insurance companies, banks, manufacturers, educational institutions, data processing services firms and government agencies.

Schools for Computer Operators are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Computer Operators Skills

Below are the skills needed to be computer operators according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Operation Monitoring3.883.75
Critical Thinking3.623.75
Reading Comprehension3.623.75
Active Listening3.623.38
Monitoring3.624.12

Computer Operators Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be computer operators according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision44
Problem Sensitivity3.883.88
Oral Comprehension3.624
Oral Expression3.54
Deductive Reasoning3.53.75

Computer Operators Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be computer operators according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.485.31
Customer and Personal Service4.345.57
English Language3.73.49
Mathematics3.323.17
Clerical3.094.27

Computer Operators Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being computer operators according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.74.76
Getting Information4.273.27
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.154.25
Making Decisions and Solving Problems3.933.86
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings3.894.41

Computer Operators Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being computer operators according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Integrity4.54
Cooperation4.45
Attention to Detail4.36
Dependability4.34
Analytical Thinking4.16

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Computer Operators

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Computer Operators jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington1,430 $44,750
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim1,260 $49,170
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell850 $38,970
San Juan-Carolina-Caguas760 $22,010
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin750 $45,810
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land750 $53,770
Austin-Round Rock600 $40,990
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach520 N/A
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford520 $46,260
San Diego-Carlsbad410 $50,300

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Computer Operators

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Employment
Salary

Total employment and salary for professions similar to computer operators

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Computer Operators.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.