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What You Need to Know About Telephone Operator

Job 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.

Telephone Operator Responsibilities

  • Promote company products, services, and savings plans when appropriate.
  • Calculate and quote charges for services such as long-distance connections.
  • Monitor automated systems for placing collect calls and intervene for a callers needing assistance.
  • Interrupt busy lines if an emergency warrants.
  • Listen to customer requests, referring to alphabetical or geographical directories to answer questions and provide telephone information.
  • Provide relay service for hearing-impaired users.

What Every Telephone Operator Should Know

When polled, Telephone Operators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Telephone Operator

  • 411 Directory Assistance Operator
  • Change Number Operator
  • Long Distance Billing Operator
  • Directory Operator
  • Customer Service Representative

Telephone Operator Employment Estimates

There were about 9,100 jobs for Telephone Operator in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Telephone Operator. There will be an estimated 900 positions for Telephone Operator per year.


The states with the most job growth for Telephone Operator are Alaska, Utah, and Idaho. Watch out if you plan on working in Delaware, Tennessee, or New Jersey. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Telephone Operators Make A Lot Of Money?

The salary for Telephone Operators ranges between about $23,160 and $60,610 a year.


Telephone Operators who work in New York, Hawaii, or District of Columbia, make the highest salaries.

How much do Telephone Operators make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $35,510
California $41,900
Connecticut $44,010
District of Columbia $44,150
Florida $32,020
Georgia $33,860
Hawaii $44,040
Illinois $40,150
Indiana $40,590
Iowa $29,880
Louisiana $33,040
Maryland $36,790
Massachusetts $36,570
Michigan $28,610
Minnesota $39,470
Missouri $31,950
Nevada $31,110
New York $48,270
Ohio $35,750
Pennsylvania $39,040
Tennessee $27,610
Texas $34,410
Virginia $43,480

What Tools & Technology do Telephone Operators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Telephone Operators:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Data entry software
  • Word processing software
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Handheld computer device software
  • Computer aided dispatch software

Becoming a Telephone Operator

What kind of Telephone Operator requirements are there?


How many years of work experience do I need?


Telephone Operators Sector


The table below shows the approximate number of Telephone Operators employed by various industries.


You May Also Be Interested In…

Those interested in being a Telephone Operator may also be interested in:


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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