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Customer Service Representative

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Overall Score
(5.5 out of 10)

Number of Jobs

298,700

Median Salary

$30,580

Unemployment Rate

9.1 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Business Jobs #21
The 100 Best Jobs #93

Whether you need help with a computer problem, fraudulent activity on your credit card or a gift that wasn't the right size, customer service representatives can take care of you. These professionals serve as an intermediary between a company and its customers, answering consumer questions and helping resolve issues with a product or service. Customer service reps must be willing and able to help customers and exercise patience – even when dealing with people who may be angry or frustrated. They may work with customers in person, over the phone or via computer.

The expected growth of industries that specialize in customer service, like telephone call centers, should lead to more job openings in the coming years, as will consumers' increasing appetite for products that require service and support. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in this profession to grow 12.6 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. An additional 298,700 jobs will need to be filled.

Salary

The median annual salary for a customer service representative was $30,580 in 2012, according to the BLS. The top earners pulled in more than $49,930, while the lowest earners made less than $19,500. The highest-paid customer service representatives work in the following industries: natural gas pipeline transportation, railroad manufacturing and aerospace product and parts manufacturing. In terms of metropolitan areas, the best-paid customer representatives work in Napa, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and Columbus, Ind.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $39,080
Median $30,580
25th Percentile $24,140

Training

Customer service reps can receive training both within and outside the company they work for. For example, some representatives are trained by vendors that offer clinics and seminars on the product they're selling. Most customer service representatives only need a high school diploma to get a job, but some employers require new hires to have an associate or bachelor's degree. High school or college-level courses in business, computers and English or communications are also helpful to have under your belt.

Most customer service reps work in call centers and undergo company training, which generally focuses on the company and its products but may also include a primer on basic communication skills, answering frequently asked questions, and phone and computer systems. Customer service representatives who provide financial and insurance information to customers may be required to obtain a state license.

Reviews & Advice

Small businesses may use more informal processes for hiring, while larger companies and call centers stick to traditional résumé sorting and interviewing protocol. These professionals should be good communicators and project a pleasant demeanor. "Those who go above and beyond change people’s lives,” says Glen Kamps, store manager for Dick Pond Athletics in St. Charles, Ill., and a former customer service representative. "It's important for someone to have energy, a sense of humor, have a passion for helping people, good eye contact and a good attitude."

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility poor Below Average
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Last updated by Evan Taylor.


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