Telephone Operators Career Video
Description: Provide information by accessing alphabetical, geographical, or other directories. Assist customers with special billing requests, such as charges to a third party and credits or refunds for incorrectly dialed numbers or bad connections. May handle emergency calls and assist children or people with physical disabilities to make telephone calls.
It used to be that the telephone operator was the heart and soul of the phone industry. Over the years, as technology became more sophisticated, automation began to replace the live voice at the switchboard. However, there are some things automated phone systems can't handle without human help, which is where the telephone operator continues to provide service. Telephone operators step in when customers are having difficulty finding a phone number. They help people place collect or credit card calls, and use telephone switchboards and systems to complete connections. The job often involves dealing with special needs, such as children or people with speech limitations. Operators are often called upon to contact the authorities in an emergency. These workers are most often employed by telephone companies or large businesses. Operators need to speak clearly and have good hearing. They need good spelling and computer skills, too. Fluency in more than one language can be a big advantage in getting a job. The work can be stressful -- you need to be able Entry level positions generally require a high school diploma or high school equivalency, with training then provided on the job. As technology takes on more of the operator's duties, the number of available jobs continues to decline. Part-time and shift work is common. Many operators move on to become dispatchers, receptionists, customer service representatives or supervisors. But no matter how few in number, telephone operators add a needed human touch to an increasingly automated industry.