Customer service representatives
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Overview
Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for customer service representatives are expected to grow by 5%, and should have about 373,800 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
The likelihood of autmoation for ${title} is near the middle of all careers' likelihoods.
Workforce size
Customer service representatives, with 2,784,500 workers, form a larger workforce than 99% of careers.
Education
Only 26% of customer service representatives have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by customer service representatives
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 78% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for customer service representatives. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most customer service representatives.
This job's median $34KAll jobs' median $39K$33K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 65% of customer service representatives -- that's a larger percentage than 80% of other jobs.
Gender of customer service representatives
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For customer service representatives, the median men's salary was 10% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 27% of customer service representatives are minority, and 12% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of customer service representatives
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (12%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Customer Service Representatives per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 49% of customer service representatives, and 61% have company-sponsored health insurance (18% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for customer service representatives
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of customer service representatives who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (81%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (63%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (54%)
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (36%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do customer service representatives earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for customer service representatives, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for customer service representatives compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for customer service representatives (BLS Salary Data)
$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all customer service representatives, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for customer service representatives compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for customer service representatives (ACS Salary Data)
$32K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$32K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where customer service representatives work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Customer service representatives (ACS)
Private for-profit (88.8%)
Private not-for-profit (3.8%)
Local government (2.2%)
State government (1.9%)
Federal government (2.1%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.5%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.6%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of customer service representatives by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$32K$31K$36K$33K$47K$36K$27K$40K$20K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Working without paySelf-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of customer service representatives by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$34K$35K$34K$36K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for customer service representatives

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$35K$32K$38K$38K$38K$21K$36K$38K$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
0100K200K300K400KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Customer service representatives and gender

With 65% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 80% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
65%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Customer service representatives
Men (35%)
Women (65%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for customer service representatives, with the median salary for men 10% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$31K$34K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Customer service representatives have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 72% of other jobs.

10%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of customer service representatives

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority customer service representatives than for 80% of other careers. While this career employs many minorities, it employs a relatively small number of foreign-born people.

Race/origin of customer service representatives
White (69% )
Black (18% )
Other (4% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (3% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
27%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
12%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for customer service representatives by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$28K$28K$29K$30K$30K$31K$33K$35K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherAmerican IndianHispanicBlackMultiracialPacific IslanderWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for customer service representatives by nativity
$31K$32K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by customer service representatives

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), customer service representatives typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as customer service representatives as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for customer service representatives.

Education attained by customer service representatives
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for customer service representatives

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

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for customer service representatives

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 may provide training for these exams.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for customer service representatives? Below we see the distribution of customer service representatives salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as customer service representatives, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$23K$29K$31K$32K$41K$48K$41K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (4%)High School (27%)Some College (33%)Associate's Degree (11%)Bachelor's Degree (22%)Master's Degree (3%)Professional Deg/Doct (0%)Doctorate (0%)
Certificate/degree pathways
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for customer service representatives

What jobs will most customer service representatives hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of customer service representatives reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Customer service representativesRetail salespersonsCashiersReceptionists and information clerksManagers (specialized areas)First-line supervisors of retail sales workersInsurance claims and policy processing clerksGeneral office clerksWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesFirst-line supervisors of office and administrative support workersStock clerks and order fillersFinancial managersSecretaries and administrative assistantsWaiters and waitresses
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for customer service representatives

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 11 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as customer service representatives as well as 1% of respondents after working as customer service representatives. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for customer service representatives
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Retail salespersons
676,200
$0$200K$31K
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
Waiters and waitresses
522,900
$0$200K$21K
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
General office clerks
356,600
$0$200K$33K
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives
197,500
$0$200K$61K
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
171,800
$0$200K$39K
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
153,100
$0$200K$48K
Receptionists and information clerks
151,300
$0$200K$27K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for customer service representatives: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as customer service representatives? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of customer service representatives surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for customer service representatives
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Retail salespersons
676,200
$0$200K$31K
4.3%
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
3.5%
Waiters and waitresses
522,900
$0$200K$21K
1.1%
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
1.1%
Customer service representatives
373,800
$0$200K$32K
30.2%
General office clerks
356,600
$0$200K$33K
1.1%
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
1.4%
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives
197,500
$0$200K$61K
1.6%
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
171,800
$0$200K$39K
2.3%
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
153,100
$0$200K$48K
1.1%
Receptionists and information clerks
151,300
$0$200K$27K
2.5%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.3%
No occupation
12.3%
Read about customer service representatives
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

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 or make changes to customer accounts
  • 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, or by email or live chat.

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 telecommunication 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. Some representatives make changes to customers’ accounts, such as updating addresses or canceling orders. Although selling is not their main job, some representatives may help generate sales while providing information about a product or service.

Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer phone calls and use computers to explore available solutions for customers. Those employed in retail stores may use registers to process returns or orders.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of customer service representatives? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Communication skills
Customer service representatives must be able to provide clear information in writing, by phone, or in person so that customers can understand them.
Customer-service skills
Representatives help companies retain customers by answering their questions and responding to complaints in a helpful and professional manner.
Interpersonal skills
Representatives should be able to create positive interactions with customers.
Listening skills
Representatives must listen carefully and understand a customer’s situation 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 a customer’s problem. By resolving issues effectively, representatives contribute to customer loyalty and retention.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for customer service representatives
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 78% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for customer service representatives. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $34KAll jobs' median $39K$36K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for customer service representatives are anticipated to grow by 5% over the next decade; 62% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for customer service representatives is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

200020102020203001,000,0002,000,0003,000,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most customer service representatives? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as customer service representatives. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Customer Service Representatives per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.010.020.030.040.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where customer service representatives earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for customer service representatives compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for customer service representatives.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Customer Service Representatives to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which customer service representatives earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Customer service representatives (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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