A computer operator position is more of a general information technologies position that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, monitors and operates computers in fields such as business, research and engineering. The estimated 71,560 computer operators had an average salary of $39,720 in 2012. If you would like to enter information technologies in this position, you will need a diverse set of skills.
Well-rounded Computer Skills
Computer operators must have a strong understanding of computing. You should be able to work within application workflows to enter and extract data for superiors or customers. You need a basic ability to troubleshoot software and limited hardware problems and assist help desk staff in identifying problems that arise on your computer. If you are working in some industries, such as research or power, you may also monitor specialized gauges, dials and other indicators to be sure that your equipment is operating correctly.
Communications are the Key
Information technology jobs are often team-based and require good verbal and written communication skills among team members to drive toward a specified result. Computer operators must be active listeners who take the time to understand the task at hand, asking questions for clarification as needed. You must be able to read complex technical documents and communicate the information to people who are sometimes less tech-savvy. You should be skilled at documenting operating procedures and troubleshooting explanations that you, or others, can consult as needed.
Method to the Madness
You must have strong clerical and organizational skills to be an effective computer operator. Expect to have a significant amount of paperwork and documentation from which you should be able to retrieve information quickly. You may maintain and update operations manuals, policy guides, data logs and other paperwork critical to have at your fingertips at any time. You may have to maintain your own inventory of supplies and equipment and request a replenishment before you run out without wastefully stockpiling large amounts.
Change is Inevitable
While computer operators may do the same thing over and over at times, you should expect change. You'll need to learn new software, hardware and peripherals since the field, and its related components, change frequently. You must take an active role in keeping current on technology topics so you are ready for change on the job. Since job postings often include the ambiguous "miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned," you must have solid troubleshooting and discernment skills to resolve the many computing issues you will see.
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