Data entry requires very little specific training, so it’s fairly easy to get started. There’s no ramp-up time and no need for prolonged training, which isn’t always compensated. You can just plug in and go.
It also doesn’t require any type of educational or professional background. This makes it accessible to pretty much anybody who’s interested in working online — there are very few barriers to entry.
And finally, data entry is easy. It doesn’t require any skill or bravery on your part, so it’s not very intimidating.
For all of these reasons, data entry has become some sort of “holy grail” for the person who’s new to the idea of working from home and not sure where to start or what all is out there.
Skills Needed for Online Data Entry
- Computer Skills: As a data entry worker, you need to have basic computer use skills: know how to operate a computer, install software, keep it updated, keep your computer safe with antivirus and anti-malware programs, etc.
- 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 inherently about imposing order on chaos – so hopefully you’re good at these things yourself! You should be good with organization and always pay great attention to detail.
- Good Communication: Just as in every job – especially the work-at-home ones – the ability to clearly and effectively communicate is important to data entry.
- High Tolerance for Repetition: You can imagine that data entry can get old – you’re doing the same task over and over with only minor variations, after all. This means data entry can become torture if you’re not good with that. You should also be good with sitting at your computer for long periods of time.
- Software Skills: You should have a broad knowledge of commonly used programs, such as word processing software and apps (Microsoft Word, Google Docs), spreadsheet software and apps (Excel, Sheets), data recording programs, and more.
- Home computer with high-speed Internet access. Enough said.
- A number pad. You may be entering a large volume of numbers while doing data entry – an actual number pad is a lifesaver, whether integrated with your keyboard or as a standalone peripheral.
- A comfortable home office. You’ll be sitting at your computer for long periods of time – 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 that you have the tools to suit any data entry job.
The Pitfall of Easy
In most cases, and I hate to break it to you, there’s not a lot of good money to be made doing data entry. You’ll likely spend many hours on the job, only to make very, very little. And those elusive gigs that do pay decently, rarely have openings. I was on a waitlist for a data entry job for well over a year before I got called up.
This is why the competition for data entry jobs is steep. When people do get that call, they don’t leave. I stayed with that company for six or seven years until the pay could no longer compete with what I make here on my blog.
And that competition over easy roles leads to more problems for us remote workers. Companies know that their data entry needs are suitable for even the least experienced of the online workforce — including people who barely speak English. So these businesses are happy to outsource their data entry to people who are willing to work for pennies.
While it’s absolutely true that there are once-in-a-blue-moon opportunities to make a living wage doing data entry, those jobs are extremely rare.
You will also quickly find this industry is wrought with scammers. These scoundrels know people are desperate for these positions and may let their guard down in hopes of finding the ultimate work-at-home unicorn. If it 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 first and foremost warning visitors that these 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 a few legit companies out there.
Legit Data Entry Jobs from Home
1. AccuTran Global – AccuTran Global is mostly known as a transcription company, which is fair since that’s mostly what they bring on independent contractors to do. However, they sometimes have data entry jobs as well, so it’s best to keep your eye out. Check the link for my overview of the company, detailing what it’s like for their transcriptionists: it’s likely to share similarities to what they expect of data entry specialists.
2. Axion Data Entry Services – Axion is one of those legit opportunities who rarely have openings, but it can be good to be registered in their database for when they do. They also only work with independent contractors. In order to qualify with them, you should have 2 to 3 years experience in data entry. They require a typing speed of 50 WPM (15,000 keystrokes per hour) with no errors. They pay by 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 their database in case of future openings – despite this, they are not a scam.
3. Birch Creek Communications – BCC periodically looks for people to do data entry; when they do, they’re looking for independent contractors just like everyone else. Pay is by the job and your performance, with their uppermost pay range going to those with consistent near-perfect accuracy. You can set whatever schedule you wish with them, but it looks like work is most widely available Monday through Friday on a corporate schedule.
4. Clickworker – Clickworker allows you to sign up and 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, surveys, and more. 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 depend on how well you perform, and providing excellent work means your earnings will increase. You work your own schedule, they take care of invoicing, and you’re paid either monthly or weekly through PayPal.
5. 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, able to handle Internet, email attachments, and both downloading and opening files. You’ll be working independently, so you should have a high degree of self-discipline. They also expect their data entry specialists to work on multiple projects simultaneously while sticking to deadlines. U.S. citizenship is a requirement for the position.
6. The Smart Crowd – The Smart Crowd is part of Lionbridge, providing their registered workers a pool of available microtasks – many of which revolve around data entry. You work when you want and as much as you want. Pay rates vary and are advertised both as competitive and corresponding to your productivity. To work with them, register on their site for free: they evaluate you and then match you with tasks that fit your skills. Payment is issued once a month.
7. SigTrack – SigTrack works with independent contractors to record whether petition signers are voters or to process voter registration and other forms. Since this work revolves around the petition season, they only hire at certain times. Pay is per work unit based on accuracy, and they require that you maintain at least 98% accuracy to satisfy your contract and also peer review others’ work. They pay via PayPal. This position is only available to U.S. citizens and you’ll be required to do a short Skype call during the interview process to establish identity. Equipment requirements are pretty standard, but note that they require dual monitors.
8. Microworkers – Microworkers, as the name implies, is another microtask site. They offer a variety of tasks, and some of those may include data entry. Some of the jobs they offer actually pay better than similar jobs on other microtask sites. They also show you a percentage on each job that demonstrates how often that job poster has approved the work of previous workers. Your only paid for approved work, so that’s useful! Payment for completed jobs goes directly to your PayPal account once you hit their $10 payout threshold. Be vigilant against scam jobs offered through Microworkers.
9. Amazon mTurk – Amazon Mechanical Turk is the lion of microtask sites and you can find data entry work among their thousands of available tasks. Once you register with their 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. There can be some shady tasks 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.
10. Working Solutions – Working Solutions periodically offers work that involves data entry. In order to work with them, you’ll need to fill out an online application and follow it up with taking some assessments. They’ll contact you afterward – their website says this step can take up to 2 weeks – with acceptance or rejection. Once you’re an agent, you will have the opportunity to review and put yourself forward for programs you think match your skills. Each program pays differently, and payment is made either via direct deposit or mailed check.
11. Appen – This company may be most well-known for its search engine evaluator jobs, they also offer a variety of “microtask” positions at any given time that may involve some type of data entry or data collecting. Many are short-term and project-based. Sometimes they are one-time tasks. For example, when updating this post they had an opening for a one-time Facebook Search survey that you could complete upon invitation every 42 days. It may not be much, but it’s a little extra spending money.
12. Lionbridge – This is another company known for evaluator and assessor jobs, but they also offer a variety of other small tasks. One such task that may fit into the field we are talking about today is annotation. In some of these roles, you are simply labeling images. In other annotation roles, you will be helping improve their AI software. Appen and Lionbridge are both adding to their remote roles frequently. Even if you don’t see something of interest now, check back often.
I’d also highly recommend checking out FlexJobs. They research all of their job leads for legitimacy so your job search there is guaranteed scam-free!
There Are Great Alternatives to Data Entry to Work from Home
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).
- There’s no special equipment or software required.
- You can pick and choose how much you do.
- It doesn’t require any special skills.
- 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 tiny bit of brainpower and the faster you can type, the better you’ll do — but neither of these should be hurdles that are 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 working from home doing data entry, transcription is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve written a lot about transcription before because it’s such a great way to get started.
Transcription doesn’t require any special training, once you figure out how to do it (and 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 up what you hear. Every now and then you may need to take a critical ear to what’s going on if it sounds garbled, and the better you’re able to do this, the better your transcriptions are. But it’s not usually too challenging, and there’s a transcript “code” you can include in your transcript 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 there are many new opportunities to do customer service by handling emails and doing the online chat function for a company’s website.
Chat and email customer service jobs are a growing field. You can work for a customer service organization that businesses then hire, you can work directly for a business doing their customer service, or you can even start your own freelance business as a customer service pro and begin offering 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
If what draws you to data entry has more to do with the fact that the work is available and you think you can type pretty fast, why don’t you take another look at making money online by writing?
Freelance writing is a great way to earn money on the side, and it’s truly 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 another look. If you’re able to type fast, you should be able 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/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.
Freelancing definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s also 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.
Data entry may not make you big money, but legitimate opportunities can keep you earning funds while looking for something 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 January 2020.