Telephone operators, also known as switchboard operators or telephonists, are the first point of contact for callers to an organisation. They answer incoming calls, directing callers to the appropriate person or department, and connect outgoing calls, where internal staff encounter difficulties in obtaining a number.
Work varies between organisations, but generally includes connecting calls, answering enquiries from customers, reporting faults, testing lines and taking messages. Some typical types of work include:
Operators normally wear telephone headsets and work at a computer. They call up directory databases and connect calls using automated equipment. The role is increasingly combined with that of a call centre operator. For further details, see Call Centre Operator.
Full-time telephone operators normally work 35 to 40 hours a week. Where a 24-hour service is provided this may be on a shift system. Part-time, evening and weekend work is common.
Telephone operators work in offices or call centres. In smaller companies, they often combine the role with reception and clerical work.
To be a telephone operator, you should:
Depending on the business, multilingual skills may be required.
The telecoms sector is growing and there are opportunities for this kind of work throughout the country in the public and private sector, for example, banking, insurance, telesales, hospitality and front-of-office.
Career progression would normally involve moving into supervisory and management roles, training, administration or human resources.
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