A PBX system, short for private branch exchange, enables a business to route calls to numerous employees through a smaller number of telephone lines, instead of having one line for each phone. The PBX or switchboard operators managing these lines usually need only a high school education before getting training on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time PBX operators averaged about $26,000 per year as of 2010.
Average and Range of Wages
According to the BLS, the average switchboard or PBX operator earned $12.63 per hour as of May 2010. This comes to an annual income of $26,280 for a year of 40-hour weeks. The BLS includes answering service operators in this category, along with operators working directly for individual businesses.
Industries with Many Jobs
The BLS also profiles the pay of PBX operators by industry as of 2010. A total of 20,020 operators working in business support services earned an average of $11.32 per hour, or $23,540 per year. Hospitals employed 19,610 operators at $12.67 per hour on average, or $26,350 per year. Auto dealers had the next largest number of operators, 10,960, earning $11.52 per hour on average, or $23,970 per year. Doctors' offices, with 9,730 operators, paid $12.69 per hour on average, or $26,390 per year.
The highest-paying industries for PBX operators reported few jobs in the BLS 2010 study. Natural gas distribution had the highest average pay, at $46,360 per year, but only 50 jobs. Miscellaneous manufacturing, for which no jobs number is available, paid an average of $40,830 per year. Promoters of arts and sporting events employed 130 operators, at an average of $34,310 per year, and the federal executive branch employed 670 operators, with average pay of $33,910.
Senior PBX Operator
More experienced PBX operators can command larger salaries on average. According to Salary.com, as of May 2011 a senior switchboard operator in the United States had a median salary of $39,021. The salaries for senior operators range from $30,731 at the 10th percentile to $50,428 at the 90th percentile. Senior operators normally have at least two to four years of experience.
Salaries by State
Salaries for PBX operators also vary according to the state. According to Career One Stop, median wages for a PBX operator in California came to $27,000 as of 2009. In Arizona, median pay was $25,300, and in Texas, it came to $23,300. Switchboard operators had median earnings of $24,800 in Illinois, and $27,600 per year in New Jersey. Operators in New York State had median salaries of $28,100, and those in Florida received $22,600 median pay.
According to the BLS, the number of jobs for PBX and other communication equipment operators will show a rapid decline from 2008 to 2018. The number of jobs will decrease by 10 percent as advances in voice recognition and other technologies enable equipment to replace humans. However, because job turnover will be great, prospects for PBX operators will remain good.