How to Become a

Customer Service Rep

The complete career guide to be a Customer Service Rep: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $34,560
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 9.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Customer service representatives work with a business’ customers to handle complaints, take orders, process returns, or solve problems. They may deal with customers remotely via call centers, social media, or instant messaging, or they may work at a service desk and deal with people in person.


What is a Customer Service Rep?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in customer service roles:

  • Answer customer questions, resolve complaints, seek resolution, or refer customers to managers or supervisors when necessary
  • Process customer orders or handle returns of merchandise
  • Use a variety of systems to interact with customers, including phone calls, instant messages, social media, and computer programs
  • Record details of interactions for overall customer support improvement or for later reference

A Day in the Life

Customer service reps work in a variety of industries. For example, one customer service rep may work at a bank and process customer deposits and withdraws. Another may work for a grocery store, processing returns and selling lottery tickets, tobacco products, and money orders. Yet another may work for a utility company and handle questions and complaints about services. The day-to-day of a customer service representative depends on the industry they work for and the role they provide.

However, all customer service representatives—regardless of role or industry—provide service to a business’ customers. They serve as the face of the company and seek to make sales as well as resolve customer questions or complaints. Customer service reps may use a variety of tools as part of their role. They may take phone calls, process orders and complaints using computer programs, interact with customers over instant messaging tools, or respond to customer complaints over social media sites.

While many customer service representatives work in call centers and work with customers remotely, many also work in physical locations and interact with customers in person. Because customers are often frustrated during interactions with customer service representatives, one major aspect of the job is to be positive, reassuring, and patient with customers. The goal of a customer service rep is to provide exceptional service, so they must be knowledgeable and friendly when working with customers.

Typical Work Schedule

Most customer service reps work full-time, though part-time roles are often available as well. Some customer service reps—like those that work for banks—work more traditional business hours and have holidays and weekends off. Others may need to be available for any shift—evening, weekend, or overnight—to ensure customers can receive service whenever it’s needed.

Projected Job Growth

The growing global market and demand among consumers for online customer service has created an increased need for customer service representatives to work in call centers. As a result, it’s expected that there will be a significant increase in demand for customer service reps in the coming decade.

Customer Service Rep Specializations

  • Customer service desk representatives work at customer service counters at physical locations. They process sales and returns, answer incoming phone calls, and handle customer complaints.
  • Bank tellers process customer deposits and withdraws, make change, and set up accounts for new and existing customers.
  • Call center customer service reps work for large businesses or agencies and take incoming calls from customers with questions, complaints, or ordering requests.
  • Online customer support reps work with customers over the internet via email, instant messaging, or social media sites.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Customer Service Representative
  • Mid-Career: Customer Service Supervisor, Customer Service Manager
  • Late Career: Social Media Manager, Office Manager

Typical Employers

Customer service representatives may work for any consumer-facing business, but the majority work for call centers, insurance providers, banks, retail stores, and utility providers (internet, electricity, water, trash, and cable providers).


How To Become a Customer Service Rep

No formal higher education is needed to become a customer service representative. Many customer service reps have only a high school diploma and are able to learn how to perform their role through on-the job training. It can help to have some experience in the industry for some customer service positions. For example, at retail stores, customer service reps often start out as cashiers. At banks, customer service reps may need to have some former experience handling money and making change.

While a degree is not required to secure a position as a customer service rep, earning a degree while working as a customer service rep can help you land promotions later in your career. For example, many customer service reps—after gaining experience—may be interested in moving into higher-paying roles like call center supervisors or managers. For these individuals, having a bachelor’s degree in business management may help them become more competitive when applying for promotions.

Additionally, many customer service reps become interested in the medium they work in and want to move on to work as social media managers, in information technology, or as office managers to diversify their career options or earn a higher salary. Degrees in marketing, technology, or business can help these individuals land positions for their company outside of the customer service department if they’re interested in pursuing different opportunities later in life.


Customer Service Rep Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$25,040

Average

$34,560

High Range

$53,030

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$12/hr

Average

$17/hr

High Range

$25/hr

How do Customer Service Rep salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Customer Service Rep's can make an average annual salary of $34,560, or $17 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $25,040 or $12 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #626 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Customer Service Reps

  • 0.5%   Doctorate
  • 3.4%   Masters
  • 21.2%   Bachelors
  • 11.2%   Associates
  • 32.5%   College
  • 27%   High School
  • 4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

2,581,800

2024 Est. Jobs

2,834,800

Job Growth Rate

9.8%

Est. New Jobs

253,000

How does Customer Service Rep job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 253,000 jobs for a total of 2,834,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #206 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Customer Service Reps

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Telephone call centers 226,700 89,300 89%
Depository credit intermediation 125,000 800 1%
Insurance agencies and brokerages 102,600 2,600 3%

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