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Computer Operators
SOC Code: 43-9011.00

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.

Sample of reported job titles: Computer Console Operator, Computer Operator, Computer Specialist, Computer Technician, Control Room Operator, Desktop Engineer, Information Technology Associate, Operations and Maintenance Technician, Software Technician, Systems Operator


  • Enter commands, using computer terminal, and activate controls on computer and peripheral equipment to integrate and operate equipment.
  • Oversee the operation of computer hardware systems, including coordinating and scheduling the use of computer terminals and networks to ensure efficient use.
  • Monitor the system for equipment failure or errors in performance.
  • Answer telephone calls to assist computer users encountering problems.
  • Respond to program error messages by finding and correcting problems or terminating the program.
  • Retrieve, separate, and sort program output as needed, and send data to specified users.
  • Record information such as computer operating time, problems that occurred, and actions taken.
  • Notify supervisor or computer maintenance technicians of equipment malfunctions.
  • Operate spreadsheet programs and other types of software to load and manipulate data and to produce reports.
  • Supervise and train peripheral equipment operators and computer operator trainees.
  • Read job set-up instructions to determine equipment to be used, order of use, material such as disks and paper to be loaded, and control settings.
  • Help programmers and systems analysts test and debug new programs.
  • Load peripheral equipment with selected materials for operating runs, or oversee loading of peripheral equipment by peripheral equipment operators.

Technology Skills

  • Access software - Citrix
  • Application server software - Microsoft Windows Server
  • Backup or archival software - Data3 ENGUARD; EMC NetWorker; Veritas NetBackup
  • Data base management system software - Oracle DBMS
  • Data base reporting software - SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports
  • Data base user interface and query software - IBM DB2; Microsoft Access ; Structured query language SQL ; Teradata Enterprise Data Warehouse (see all 7 examples)
  • Development environment software - Common business oriented language COBOL
  • Electronic mail software - Email software; IBM Notes ; Microsoft Exchange Server ; Microsoft Outlook
  • Enterprise application integration software - BMC Software Control-M; IBM WebSphere
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software - SAP
  • Enterprise system management software - IBM Power Systems software
  • Filesystem software - IBM Tivoli NetView Distribution Manager
  • Graphics or photo imaging software - Microsoft Visio
  • Helpdesk or call center software - BMC Software Remedy IT Service Management Suite; Hewlett-Packard HP OpenView Service Center
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Internet protocol IP multimedia subsystem software - File transfer protocol FTP software
  • LAN software - Local area network LAN software
  • Network monitoring software - IBM Tivoli OMEGAMON XE for CICS on z/OS; Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold; Micro Focus OpenView; Novell NetWare (see all 5 examples)
  • Object or component oriented development software - Practical extraction and reporting language Perl ; Python ; Tandem advanced command language TACL
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Operating system software - Hewlett Packard HP-UX; Job control language JCL ; Linux ; UNIX (see all 18 examples)
  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Project management software - Microsoft SharePoint
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Storage networking software - EMC AlphaStor; Storage area network SAN software
  • Transaction server software - Customer information control system CICS
  • WAN switching software and firmware - Wide area network WAN software
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Check endorsing machines - Check signers
  • Computer servers - Email servers; Minicomputers
  • Dot matrix printers - High speed impact printers; Impact printers
  • Electronic media or data duplicating equipment - Backup drives
  • Hard disk drives - Computer hard disk drives; Disk storage units
  • Laser printers
  • Magnetic stripe readers and encoders - Magnetic card readers
  • Mainframe computers
  • Mainframe console or dumb terminals - Computer terminals
  • Modems
  • Network routers
  • Paper cutting machines or accessories - Decollating equipment; Form bursters
  • Personal computers
  • Plotter printers - Plotters
  • Scanners
  • Special purpose telephones - Multi-line telephone systems
  • Tape drive libraries - Robotic tape libraries
  • Tape drives - Computer tape drives; Magnetic tape units MTU


  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Telecommunications - Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.


  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.


  • Interest code: CR
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Work Context

  • Electronic Mail - 97% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 92% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone - 81% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 82% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 52% responded “Very important.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 60% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 45% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Time Pressure - 34% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 49% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 43% responded “About half the time.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 48% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 63% responded “Very important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 54% responded “Important results.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 69% responded “40 hours.”
  • Level of Competition - 32% responded “Slightly competitive.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 43% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 38% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 29% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 17% responded “Very important.”
  • Consequence of Error - 41% responded “Very serious.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
36%Bachelor's degree
24%High school diploma or equivalent
22%Associate's degree

Work Styles

  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $21.28 hourly, $44,270 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 52,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Decline (-2% or lower)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 3,400

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