Answering service operators, sometimes known as switchboard operators, are responsible for operating a variety of telephone and communications equipment. These workers ensure that calls and other messages are relayed to the appropriate people and often serve to give callers information or reroute calls. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes answering service workers as part of a larger category of "switchboard operators, including answering service.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were an estimated 146,980 answering service and switchboard operator jobs in 2009. The average worker in this sector earned an hourly wage of about $12.50 or about $26,000 per year. Answering service workers in the top 10th percentile earn about $17.60 per hour or about $36,610 per year, while those in the lowest 10th percentile earn about $8.38 per hour or $17,430 a year.
Most Common Sectors
The "general medical and surgical hospitals" sector of the industry employed the largest number of switchboard operators and answering service workers in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The estimated 20,440 workers in this sector earned about $12.53 an hour or $26,050 a year. The estimated 19,340 answering service workers in the "business support services" sector earned an average of $11.40 per hour or about $23,720 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that answering service and switchboard operators employed in the "natural gas distribution" sector of the industry had the highest average wages out of all sectors in 2009. These workers earned an average hourly wage of $19.03 or $39,570 a year. Workers in the "other professional, scientific and technical services" sector, the second-highest-paying sector, earned an average of $16.77 an hour or $34,880 a year.
Answering service workers and switchboard operators in the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Connecticut, Washington and Massachusetts had the highest wages out of all states in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in the District of Columbia had the highest average wages, earning an estimated $16.32 per hour or about $33,940 per year. Answering service and switchboard operators in Massachusetts, the fifth-highest-paying state, earned an average of $14.27 an hour or about $29,680 per year.