typist n : someone paid to operate a typewriter
- Italian: dattilografo
A data entry clerk is a member of staff who reads hand-written or printed records and types them into a computer. They are sometimes employed on a temporary basis, but most large companies which have large amounts of data will hire on a near-permanent basis.
ExamplesFor a mailing company, data entry clerks might be required to type in reference numbers for items of mail which had failed to reach their destination, so that the relevant addresses could be deleted from the database used to send the mail out. If the company was compiling a database from addresses handwritten on a questionnaire, the person typing those in would be a data entry clerk. In a cash office, a data entry clerk might be required to type expenses into a database using numerical codes.
The number of data entry clerks working with physical hand-written documents has declined in modern times, as it has become easier for people in other positions within a company to enter their own data as it emerges rather than have a different employee do this task full time.
Optical character recognitionWith advancing technology, many data entry clerks no longer work with hand-written documents. Instead, the documents are first scanned by an optical character recognition (OCR) system, which attempts to read the documents and process the data electronically. The accuracy of OCR, and hence the need for ongoing data entry clerks, varies widely based upon the quality of the original document as well as the scanned image. Although OCR technology is continually being developed, many tasks still require a data entry clerk to review the results afterwards to check the accuracy of the data and to manually key in any missed or incorrect information.
An example of this system would be one commonly used to document health insurance claims, such as for Medicaid in the United States. In some systems, the hand-written forms are first scanned into digital images that resemble PDF files. These files are then sent through the optical character recognition system, where many fields are completed by the computerized optical scanner. The data entry clerk then manually reviews the data already entered by OCR, corrects it if needed, and fills in any missing data by simultaneously viewing the image on-screen.
The accuracy of personal records, as well as billing or financial information, is usually of great importance to the general public as well as the health care provider. Sensitive or vital information such as this is often checked many times, by both clerk and machine, before being accepted.