When customers have questions or complaints, they encounter customer service representatives. These reps act as the public face of any company providing goods and services. Some CSRs also process orders and returns. People skills are important because CSRs spend most of their time dealing with customers. They also need basic phone and computer skills. About 80 percent earned their income by working full-time in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rest had variable or part-time schedules.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service representatives earned an average income of $33,120 a year or $15.92 an hour as of May 2011. The lowest paid 10 percent made less than $19,620 per year, while the highest paid 10 percent earned more than $49,800 per year. The median income, or halfway point between the lowest and highest salaries, was $30,610 a year or $14.72 an hour.
The biggest employers of customer services reps in 2011 were business support services, which hired almost 9 percent of the total 2.2 million reps surveyed by the BLS. The mean pay here was $27,240 a year or $13.10 an hour. The highest salaries for CSRs were in oil and gas extraction at an average of $50,800 a year or $24.42 an hour. The next highest salaries came in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing sector, where CSRs averaged $48,610 a year or $23.37 an hour.
The BLS reports that among the 50 states and District of Columbia, the highest-paid customer service reps worked in D.C. where they earned a mean $41,160 per year or $19.79 per hour. California ranked second at an average $38,740 a year or $18.63 an hour, followed by Connecticut at a mean $38,670 yearly or $18.59 per hour. The state with the lowest average wage was South Dakota at a mean $26,440 a year or $12.71 an hour. Among municipalities, the highest wages were paid in California's San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara metro area, were income averaged $49,000 a year or $23.56 an hour.
The number of jobs for customer service representatives is expected to grow 15 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. This is slightly better than the 14 percent predicted for all occupations and more than the 10 percent expected for all office and administrative support occupations. Growth will come from the emphasis on customer relationships as a way companies can distinguish themselves from the competition.