Telephone Operator

Help callers find numbers and place long distance calls.
picture of Telephone Operator

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$19,000 – $51,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Telephone Operators do?

Computers have replaced switchboards, but the telephone network still needs Telephone Operators to handle and direct incoming calls. Like Traffic Guards, Telephone Operators keep an eye on call volume, and point calls in the right direction.

As a Telephone Operator, you can take on one of two jobs depending on where you work. Both deal with customer service and assistance, but one serves the general public and the other directs calls at a business or other large organization.

Callers are given to you in the order they called, and you answer their questions as best as possible. At a business, for example, they may have questions about product pricing and information, which you either answer yourself or transfer to the appropriate department.

As an Operator for the phone network in general, you help callers find the phone number of the desired party, and collect fees for certain calls, such as long distance. You work at a computer station, and after verifying the caller’s information, you give them the requested phone number and let them know that you can connect them directly if they’re willing to pay a fee.

Other times, the caller may need to place a long-distance call, or receive a refund for a call that was disconnected. Occasionally, your computer may show that an incoming call is violating security policies, so you redirect the call to security. Thanks to today’s computers, you can switch out calls with the push of a button instead of fighting with a mess of tangled wires.

Should I be a Telephone Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: 411 Directory Assistance Operator, Information Operator, Inward Toll Operator, LD Operator, Local Operator See More

    How to become a Telephone Operator

    Most Telephone Operators have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9aaaaa&chl=no+college+%2899%25%29|certificate+%281%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,99,99
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