Customer Service Representatives revised 7/5/2016
Standard Occupational Classification #43-4051 Customer Service Representatives
SOC Definition #43-4051 Customer Service Representatives -- Interact with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. Exclude individuals whose duties are primarily sales or repair. Also known as: Complaint Adjuster; Passenger Relations Representative; Telephone Service Adviser
Customer Service Representatives are classified as office and administrative support occupations with the biggest share working in the finance and insurance industry. Among the 21.4 percent in finance and insurance 11.7 percent work in insurance and related activities, 8.6 percent at credit intermediaries and related activities, really banks. Wholesale trade employs 8.2 percent and retail trade 12.1 percent. Otherwise 9.8 percent work in business support services, primarily telephone call centers and through temporary help centers, and another 4.6 percent are scattered in segments of the health care industry. Small percents work for utilities with others scattered among many industries.
Customer Service Representatives work will vary some depending on the industry. In finance they may access a computer to look up account or loan information or resolve customer complaints. In insurance, they may help with policy applications, or answer questions about policy coverage and reporting claims. At utilities they mostly explain and handle service accounts. Automated computerized voice mail systems do some of the routine customer service work, but not enough to decrease employment because the number of jobs keeps growing.
National employment as Customer Service Representatives was 2,595,990 in 2015, which is the sixth largest occupation of 829 Standard Occupational Classifications. Jobs are up since 2000 when jobs were 1,907,890. The annual average job increase equals 45,873 per year since 2000 at a growth rate of 2.07 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting job growth for Customer Service Representatives at 25,290 per year through 2024 at a growth rate of .98 percent a year.
Job openings make a better measure of new hiring than job growth. Job openings are job growth and the number of net replacements. Net replacements are people who permanently leave an occupation for another occupation or retirement and must be replaced before there can be job growth. Job openings for customer service representatives are forecast to be 88,900 a year through 2024.
Customer Service Representative jobs do not require college degree training, but they are not walk on jobs like a cashier. For starters, people in these jobs need to speak clearly and grammatically. They have to explain many varied service options and service plans that are increasingly complex and the job requires computer skills since they routinely access computer database information. The skills required help keep the pay higher than most office-based employment.
The recently updated BLS Education and Training Classification assignments lists high school degree or equivalent as necessary for entry into jobs as customer service representatives. However, percentages from survey data are published for Customer Service Representatives showing an educational distribution where 21.2 percent have a BA degree, 3.9 percent have advanced degrees, 32.5 percent some college, but no degree, and 11.2 percent have an associate’s degree. High school degree skills were sufficient for 27.0 percent who work here and 4.0 percent have less than a high school degree. Previous experience is considered unnecessary, but short-term on-the-job training is expected to be necessary for new hires.
Unlike autoworkers, who have to be at the auto plant to do their work, Customer Service Representatives can be anywhere they have a computer and a telephone. Working from home saves commuter costs and space on already clogged highways. Telecommuting saves business the expense of providing office space, which gives incentive to increase their staff working at home at least some of the time.
In addition, office space for Customer Service Representatives could be moved to low rent small towns, rural areas or abroad to work, but as of 2015 over 90 percent of Customer Service Jobs are in metropolitan areas. The claim is made that business is transferring Customer Service jobs abroad, but it is unlikely their numbers would be steadily increasing if many of these jobs were being moved abroad. Given the complexity of America’s many service plans in loans, credit cards, telecommunications, health care and other areas Customer Service work will not be decreasing anytime soon.
The basic wage data from the BLS occupational employment survey includes a wage distribution. Averages are not used much in wage data. A few high wages pull up the average and make it unrepresentative. Instead a distribution range of wages is published with the 10th, 25th, median, 75th, and 90th percentiles of wages. A 10th percentile wage means 10 percent working in this job have wages equal to or less than the 10th percentile wage and so on. Annual wages are converted to hourly wages by dividing annual wages by 2080
The entry wage for the national market in the 10th percentile for Customer Service Representatives is reported as $20,250 in 2015. The 25th percentile wage equals $25,040. The median wage is $31,720, the 75th percentile wage equals $40,830 and the 90th percentile wage is $53,030.
The wages of Customer Service Representatives have not kept up with inflation for the last decade. For example, to have the buying power of the 2008 median wage of $29,860 in 2015, the Customer Service Representatives wage would need to be $32,871.17. In stead it was $31,720.00, a 3.5 percent decrease in the real wage for those seven years.
Like so many office occupations beginning salaries are low with 22 states reporting 10th percentile wages less than $20,000 for May 2015. The beginning salaries are only slightly higher than jobs as receptionists where 45 states have a 10th percentile wage less than $20,000. However, successful work as a Customer Service Representative assures advancement. Salaries for in the 90th percentile rise into the high forties and 25 states report 90th percentile wages above $50,000.