INSIDE: Data entry jobs from home are easy to get — but the industry is full of scammers. Here are 12 real opportunites and what you’ll need to get started.
Data entry requires very little specific knowledge, so it’s fairly easy to get started with one of these jobs from home. There’s no ramp-up time or prolonged training, which isn’t always compensated. You can just plug in and go.
Being a data entry operator also doesn’t require a particular educational or professional background. This job description makes it accessible to pretty much anybody who’s interested in an online job — there are few barriers to entry.
And finally, data entry is easy. A home data entry job requires few skills, so it’s not very intimidating.
For all of these reasons, an online data entry job has become the “holy grail” for people who are new to the idea of working from home and aren’t sure where to start or what is out there.
Skills Needed for Online Data Entry
- Computer skills: As a data entry worker, you need basic computer skills. You should know how to operate a computer, install software, keep it updated, and keep your computer safe with antivirus and anti-malware programs.
- Typing skills: You also need to be able to type quickly and efficiently, while maintaining a high degree of accuracy. Don’t forget to double-check your work.
- Organization: Data entry is about imposing order on chaos, so you should be organized and always pay close attention to detail.
- Good communication: Just as in every job – especially the work-at-home ones – the ability to clearly and effectively communicate is an important data entry skill.
- High tolerance for repetition: As you can imagine, data entry can get old – you’re doing the same task over and over with only minor variations, after all. That means data entry can become torture if you don’t have a high tolerance for repetition. You should also be comfortable with sitting at your computer for long periods.
- Software skills: A data entry specialist should have a broad knowledge of commonly used computer programs, such as word processing software and apps (such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs), spreadsheet software and apps (Excel, Sheets), and data recording programs.
Equipment Needed for Online Typing Jobs
When it comes to online typing jobs like data entry, there is some equipment you’ll need.
- Home computer with high-speed internet access. Enough said.
- Numeric keypad. You may be entering a large volume of numbers while doing data entry, so a number pad is a lifesaver, whether integrated with your keyboard or as a stand-alone peripheral.
- Comfortable home office. You’ll be sitting at your computer for long periods, so your desk chair should be comfortable and your desk easy to work at (preferably in a way that won’t harm your posture or wrists).
- Access to common data processing programs. It’s a good idea to have access to as many programs as possible, from Microsoft Office suite to G Suite, so you have the tools to suit any data entry position.
The Pitfall of Easy
I hate to break it to you, but there’s not a lot of money to be made as a data entry keyer. You’ll likely spend many hours on the job, only to make very, very little.
And those elusive gigs that do pay a decent rate rarely have openings. I was on a waiting list for a data entry job for well over a year before I got called up.
The competition for data entry jobs is steep. When people do get that call, they don’t leave. I stayed with a company for six or seven years, until the pay could no longer compete with what I make here on my blog.
And that competition for easy jobs leads to more problems for remote workers.
Companies know that their data entry job opportunities are suitable for even the least experienced of the online work force. So these businesses are happy to outsource their online data entry jobs to people who are willing to work for pennies.
While once-in-a-blue-moon opportunities to make a living wage doing data entry do exist, those jobs are extremely rare.
This industry is also full of scammers. These scoundrels know that people are desperate for these gig economy positions and that they may let their guard down in hopes of finding the ultimate work-at-home unicorn.
If a job opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And at many of the sites we discuss below, you are going to find an alert warning visitors that scammers not only exist, but they also use legitimate company names in an attempt to weasel into your bank account.
Be careful! Learn how to spot and avoid scams.
That being said, there are some legit companies out there.
Legit Data Entry Jobs from Home
- AccuTran Global — AccuTran Global is mostly known as a transcription company because that’s mostly what it brings on independent contractors to do. But it sometimes has data entry jobs as well, so keep an eye out. Check the link for my overview of the company, detailing what it’s like for their transcriptionists. That’s likely to be similar to what the company expects of data entry specialists.
- Axion Data Entry Services — Axion is one of those legit companies that rarely have openings, but it can be good to be registered in its database for when it does. The company only works with independent contractors who have two to three years of experience in data entry. A typing speed of 50 words per minute (15,000 keystrokes per hour) with no errors is needed. The company pays a flat rate by the page (or project), so it really does pay to be fast and accurate. Axion requires a nominal fee to keep you registered in its database – despite this, it is not a scam.
- Clickworker — Clickworker lets you sign up to become part of a pool of folks who complete tasks for Clickworkers’ clients. Data entry is one of those tasks, and others include proofreading, copy editing, web research, and surveys. Once you sign up (for free), you fill out your profile and complete short assessments to demonstrate your abilities. The number of jobs available to you depends on how well you perform, and providing excellent work means your earnings will increase. You set your own schedule, they take care of invoicing, and you’re paid either monthly or weekly through PayPal.
- DionData Solutions — DionData Solutions is currently looking for Data Entry Professional Operators who type 60 wpm with a high degree of accuracy. You should be proficient with computers and able to handle the internet, email attachments, and downloading and opening files. You’ll be working independently, so you should have a high degree of self-discipline. The company expects its online data entry specialists to work on multiple projects simultaneously while sticking to deadlines. U.S. citizenship is a requirement.
- The Smart Crowd — The Smart Crowd is part of Lionbridge, which provides registered workers with a pool of available microtasks – many of which involve data entry. You work when you want and as much as you want. Pay rates vary and are advertised as competitive and corresponding to your productivity. You can register on the site for free. The company evaluates you and then matches you with tasks that fit your skills. Payment is issued once a month.
- SigTrack — SigTrack works with independent contractors to record whether petition signers are voters or to process voter registration and other forms. Because this work revolves around the voting petition season, the company only hires at certain times. Pay is per work unit based on accuracy, and you must maintain at least 98% accuracy to satisfy your contract and peer review others’ work. Pay is via PayPal. Jobs are only available to U.S. citizens, and you’ll be required to join a short Skype call during the interview process to establish your identity. Equipment requirements are pretty standard, but note that the company requires dual monitors.
- Microworkers — Microworkers, as the name implies, is another microtask job board. It offers a variety of tasks, and some include data entry. Some of the jobs it offers pay better than similar jobs on other microtask sites. The site also shows you a percentage for each job that demonstrates how often that job poster has approved the work of previous workers. You’re only paid for approved work, so that’s useful! Payment for completed jobs goes directly to your PayPal account once you hit a $10 payout threshold. Be vigilant against scam jobs offered through Microworkers.
- Amazon mTurk — Amazon Mechanical Turk is the lion of microtask sites, and you can find data entry work among its thousands of available tasks. Once you register with the site, you can select HITs (human intelligence tasks) that sound interesting to you; sometimes, you must complete a qualifier to land the task. You’re only paid if your work is accepted. Some shady tasks are listed on mTurk, so be careful and don’t pick up any HITs that feel wrong. Payment is made via Amazon gift cards or through bank deposit.
- Working Solutions — Working Solutions periodically offers work that involves data entry. You’ll need to fill out an online application and follow it up by taking some assessments. The company will contact you afterward with acceptance or rejection – the website says this step can take up to two weeks. Once you’re an agent, you’ll have the opportunity to review and apply for programs you think match your skills. Each program pays differently, and payment is made via direct deposit or mailed check.
- Appen — This company is best-known for its search engine evaluator jobs, but it also offers a variety of microtask positions that may involve data entry or data collecting. Many jobs are short-term and project-based. The pay might not be much, but it’s a little extra spending money.
- Lionbridge — This is another company known for evaluator and assessor jobs, but it also offers a variety of other small tasks. One such task that may fit into the field we’re talking about is annotation. In some of these roles, you are simply labeling images. In other annotation roles, you will help improve their artificial intelligence software. Appen and Lionbridge are both adding to their remote roles frequently. Even if you don’t see something of interest now, check back later.
I also highly recommend checking out FlexJobs. The company researches all of its job leads for legitimacy, so your job search there is guaranteed scam-free!
There Are Great Work-From-Home Alternatives to Data Entry Work
Think about the things that might draw you to data entry:
- You don’t need much training.
- You don’t have to have any particular background.
- The work is available and it pays (even if data entry doesn’t pay much).
- You can pick and choose how much you work.
- You don’t have to start up a business to do data entry. (Or maybe you like the idea of starting up a business, but it seems really intimidating!)
The great news is, there are viable alternatives that fit most if not all of these criteria, and the pay is substantially better than data entry. They might require a bit of brainpower, and the faster you can type, the better you’ll do – but neither of these should be hurdles big enough to stop you from pursuing your work-at-home dreams.
These are some of the best alternatives to data entry for when you want to work from home:
When I think about an alternative to doing data entry from home, transcription is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve written a lot about transcription because it’s such a great way to get started in a remote job.
A transcription job doesn’t require any special training. It can be as simple as stopping and starting a recording and typing up what you hear – although there are software programs that make this process much more efficient. Check out these resources to land transcription work.
Transcription doesn’t require a lot of technical skill – you’re essentially just typing what you hear.
Every now and then, you may need a critical ear if what’s going on sounds garbled, and the better you’re able to decipher it, the better your transcriptions will be. But it’s not usually too challenging, and there’s a transcript “code” you can include in any section that’s too garbled to understand.
Email and Chat Customer Service
While you might not be jumping up and down at the idea of doing customer service online, take a closer look. Some customer service jobs are over the phone, but among trending jobs there are many new opportunities to handle customer service via email and the online chat function of a company’s website.
You can work for a customer service organization that businesses hire, you can work directly for a business doing its customer service, or you can even start your own freelance business as a customer service pro and offer your services that way.
The following companies hire for work-at-home chat and email jobs:
- Amazon (seasonal)
- Best Buy
- Sedgwick CMS
- Site Staff
- Sutherland (occasionally has non-phone openings)
- Sykes (occasionally has chat openings)
- The Chat Shop
Freelance writing is a great way to earn money on the side, and it’s one of the most lucrative opportunities out there if you can work your way into some of the highly specialized copywriting niches.
But even if you don’t burrow down into copywriting, freelance writing is definitely worth a look. If you’re able to type fast, you should be able to put together a decent blog post in about an hour (once you get the hang of it, which typically doesn’t take very long).
If you charge a client $50 for that blog post (which is a pretty typical beginner or advanced beginner rate), you’ve just made $50 for an hour’s worth of work. And the best part is, many businesses will want to hire a writer for recurring work, so it’s not like you have to find a new client every time you want an assignment.
Working as a freelancer is definitely not for everyone, but it’s not as scary as a lot of people think it is. I love freelance writing, and I’d encourage you to take a closer look before you decide it’s not for you.
A remote data entry job may not make you big money, but legitimate opportunities can keep you earning funds while looking for a home job that pays better.
Now that you know what you need and where to look for legit jobs, have at it! And don’t forget to drop me a note on how you do – or any valid data entry jobs I’ve not mentioned here.
Originally published November 2016. Updated August 2020.