Computer operators
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Overview
Monitor and control electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, engineering, and other data according to operating instructions. Monitor and respond to operating and error messages. May enter commands at a computer terminal and set controls on computer and peripheral devices. Excludes “Computer Occupations” (15-1100) and "Data Entry Keyers" (43-9021).
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for computer operators are expected to shrink by 23%, and should have about 3,500 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Computer operators are more likely to be automated than 60% of other careers.
Workforce size
Computer operators, with 51,500 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Education
Only 31% of computer operators have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by computer operators
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 54% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for computer operators. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most computer operators.
This job's median $46KAll jobs' median $39K$42K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 42% of computer operators -- that's a larger percentage than 56% of other jobs.
Gender of computer operators
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For computer operators, the median men's salary was 22% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 24% of computer operators are minority, and 12% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of computer operators
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 Computer Operators 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 64% of computer operators, and 72% have company-sponsored health insurance (13% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for computer operators
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 computer operators who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (84%)
  • Consequence of Error (54%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (31%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do computer operators 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 computer operators, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for computer operators compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for computer operators (BLS Salary Data)
$46K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$46K$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 computer operators, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for computer operators compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for computer operators (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$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 computer operators 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 Computer operators (ACS)
Private for-profit (71.4%)
Private not-for-profit (6.4%)
Local government (5.5%)
State government (5.0%)
Federal government (9.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.7%)
Self-employed not incorporated (1.3%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of computer operators by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$41K$41K$41K$40K$47K$44K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of computer operators 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.
$46K$61K$45K$45K$44K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for computer operators

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.

$38K$49K$49K$24K$50K$31K$42K$45K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
02K4K6K8K10K12KNumber 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
Computer operators and gender

With 42% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 56% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
42%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Computer operators
Men (58%)
Women (42%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for computer operators tops that, with the median salary for men 22% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$37K$45K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KWomenMen
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. Computer operators have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 65% of other jobs.

22%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 computer operators

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 computer operators than for 68% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of computer operators
White (72% )
Black (13% )
Asian (7% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (3% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
24%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
12%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for computer operators 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.

$33K$36K$39K$42K$44K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KOtherBlackMultiracialWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for computer operators by nativity
$41K$44K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

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 computer operators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer operators 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 computer operators as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for computer operators.

Education attained by computer operators
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for computer operators? Below we see the distribution of computer operators salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as computer operators, 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.

$31K$36K$41K$42K$47K$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (3%)High School (22%)Some College (31%)Associate's Degree (13%)Bachelor's Degree (25%)Master's Degree (5%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by computer operators

This table shows the college majors held by people working as computer operators. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Computer operators with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
14.5%
$0$200K$87K
5.0%
$0$200K$63K
4.4%
$0$200K$53K
3.1%
$0$200K$60K
2.6%
$0$200K$67K
2.2%
$0$200K$56K
1.9%
$0$200K$80K
1.9%
$0$200K$73K
1.9%
$0$200K$72K
1.8%
$0$200K$73K
1.8%
$0$200K$51K
1.6%
$0$200K$78K
1.5%
$0$200K$97K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as computer operators, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by computer operators given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Applications and systems software developersComputer programmersManagers (specialized areas)Computer and information systems managersComputer occupations (specialized areas)Computer systems analystsComputer support specialistsManagement analystsNetwork and computer systems administratorsChief executives and legislatorsAccountants and auditorsFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersFinancial managersWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesSecretaries and administrative assistantsHuman resources workersFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersMarketing and sales managersRetail salespersonsElementary and middle school teachersCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsPostsecondary teachersLawyers, judges, and magistratesPhysicians and surgeonsEducation administratorsMarket research analysts and marketing specialistsCustomer service representativesService sales representativesBookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerksFirst-line supervisors of office and administrative support workersFinancial analystsDesignersArtists and related workersWeb developersSecondary school teachersEditorsWriters and authorsComputer ScienceBusiness Management andAdministrationGeneral BusinessPsychologyGeneral Computer andInformation SystemsMarketingAccountingCommercial Art andGraphic DesignEnglish Language andLiteratureCommunicationsAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for computer operators

What jobs will most computer operators 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 computer operators reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Computer operatorsData entry keyersComputer occupations (specialized areas)Computer systems analystsComputer, automated teller, and office machine repairersStock clerks and order fillersFirst-line supervisors of office and administrative support workersComputer programmersManagers (specialized areas)Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighersProduction workersRetail salespersonsFinancial managersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersMaintenance and repair workersBilling and posting clerksElementary and middle school teachersShipping, receiving, and traffic clerksSecretaries and administrative assistantsFile clerksBookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerksApplications and systems software developersCustomer service representatives
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for computer operators

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 12 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as computer operators as well as 1% of respondents after working as computer operators. 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 computer operators
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
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
Customer service representatives
373,800
$0$200K$32K
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
Applications and systems software developers
118,900
$0$200K$96K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Financial managers
56,900
$0$200K$68K
Computer systems analysts
45,200
$0$200K$75K
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
Computer occupations (specialized areas)
22,500
$0$200K$68K
Data entry keyers
16,800
$0$200K$31K
Computer programmers
15,700
$0$200K$82K
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers
11,500
$0$200K$43K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for computer operators: full listings

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

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for computer operators
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?
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
1.6%
Customer service representatives
373,800
$0$200K$32K
2.1%
General office clerks
356,600
$0$200K$33K
1.3%
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
1.3%
Accountants and auditors
143,000
$0$200K$60K
1.4%
Applications and systems software developers
118,900
$0$200K$96K
3.8%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.9%
Computer support specialists
72,300
$0$200K$54K
2.9%
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
2.1%
Financial managers
56,900
$0$200K$68K
1.9%
Computer systems analysts
45,200
$0$200K$75K
1.7%
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
1.9%
Computer and information systems managers
32,500
$0$200K$99K
1.3%
Chief executives and legislators
24,000
$0$200K$96K
1.3%
Computer occupations (specialized areas)
22,500
$0$200K$68K
2.8%
Data entry keyers
16,800
$0$200K$31K
7.9%
Printing press operators
15,900
$0$200K$36K
1.6%
Medical records and health information technicians
15,800
$0$200K$37K
1.8%
Computer programmers
15,700
$0$200K$82K
3.0%
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers
11,500
$0$200K$43K
1.6%
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for computer operators
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 54% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for computer operators. 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 $46KAll jobs' median $39K$41K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for computer operators are anticipated to shrink by 23%. over the next decade; 99% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for computer operators 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.

2000201020202030050,000100,000150,000200,000
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 computer operators? 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 computer operators. 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 Computer Operators per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where computer operators 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 computer operators compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for computer operators.

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: Computer Operators to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which computer operators 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
0.00.51.01.5
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 Computer operators (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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