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Job Outlook for:
Customer Service Representatives

SOC: 43-4051        OOH: U249

Customer Service Representatives
Quick Stats
Total Jobs in 2016 2,784,500
Expected Growth 5%    (As fast as average)
New Jobs To Be Added
from 2016 to 2026
Median Pay $25,000 to $34,999



Employment Outlook for Customer Service Representatives

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Overall employment growth should result from growth in industries that specialize in handling customer service. Specifically, telephone call centers, also known as customer contact centers, are expected to add the most new jobs for customer service representatives. Employment of representatives in these centers is projected to grow 36 percent from 2016 to 2026. Some businesses are increasingly contracting out their customer service operations to telephone call centers because the call centers provide consolidated sales and customer service functions.

Employment growth of customer service representatives in all other industries will be driven by growth of those industries, as well as consumers’ demand for products and services that require customer support. Some companies will continue to use in-house service centers to differentiate themselves from competitors, particularly for inquiries that are more complex, such as refunding accounts or confirming insurance coverage.

However, some companies are increasingly using Internet self-service or interactive voice-response systems that enable customers to perform simple tasks, such as changing addresses or reviewing account billing, without speaking to a representative. Improvements in technology will gradually allow these automated systems to perform more advanced tasks.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for customer service representatives are expected to be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.




Typical Pay for Customer Service Representatives

The median hourly wage for customer service representatives was $15.53 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.01, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.83.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for customer service representatives in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Wholesale trade $17.89
Insurance carriers and related activities 17.38
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17.33
Telephone call centers 12.98
Retail trade 12.13

Although most customer service representatives work full time, about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2016. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, such as evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Positions in call centers may require early morning or late night shifts because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.


What Customer Service Representatives Do All Day

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.


Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Listen to customers’ questions and concerns, and provide answers or responses
  • Provide information about products and services
  • Take orders, calculate charges, and process billing or payments
  • Review or make changes to customer accounts
  • Handle returns or complaints
  • Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
  • Refer customers to supervisors or more experienced employees

Customer service representatives answer questions or requests from customers or the public. They typically provide services by phone, but some also interact with customers face to face, or by email or live chat.

The specific duties of customer service representatives vary by industry. For example, representatives who work in banks may answer customers’ questions about their accounts. Representatives who work for utility and telecommunication companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Those who work in retail stores often handle returns, process refunds, and help customers locate items. Some representatives make changes to customers’ accounts, such as updating addresses or canceling orders. Although selling is not their main job, some representatives may help generate sales while providing information about a product or service.

Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer phone calls and use computers to explore available solutions for customers. Those employed in retail stores may use registers to process returns or orders.



Work Environment for Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives held about 2.8 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of customer service representatives were as follows:

Retail trade 14%
Insurance carriers and related activities 12
Telephone call centers 9
Wholesale trade 8
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Representatives usually work in an office setting, but working from home is also possible in some companies. In offices, representatives may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the work area can be noisy. Some workers may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work can sometimes be stressful when they interact with dissatisfied customers.

In retail stores, representatives may spend hours on their feet assisting customers in person.

Work Schedules

Although most customer service representatives work full time, about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2016. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, such as evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Positions in call centers may require early morning or late night shifts because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.



How To Become a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to learn the specific skills needed for the job. They should be good at communicating and interacting with people and have some experience using computers.


Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.


Customer service representatives usually receive short-term on-the-job training, typically lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn complicated financial regulations.

General customer-service training may focus on procedures for answering questions, information about a company’s products and services, and computer and telephone use. Trainees often work under the guidance of an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.

In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, customer service representatives must remain current with changing regulations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Customer service representatives who provide information about finance and insurance may need a state license. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they usually include passing an exam. Some employers and organizations may provide training for these exams.


With experience, customer service representatives may advance to supervisory roles.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Customer service representatives must be able to provide clear information in writing, by phone, or in person so that customers can understand them.

Customer-service skills. Representatives help companies retain customers by answering their questions and responding to complaints in a helpful and professional manner.

Interpersonal skills. Representatives should be able to create positive interactions with customers.

Listening skills. Representatives must listen carefully and understand a customer’s situation in order to assist them.

Patience. Representatives should be patient and polite, especially when interacting with dissatisfied customers.

Problem-solving skills. Representatives must determine solutions to a customer’s problem. By resolving issues effectively, representatives contribute to customer loyalty and retention.






"Customer Service Representatives"   SOC:  43-4051     OOH Code: U249

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