Typists and Word Processors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Most employers require that typists and word processors be high school graduates and able to type accurately at a rate of at least 40 to 50 words per minute. Typists need good knowledge of spelling, grammar, and punctuation and may be required to be familiar with standard office equipment. Recommended high school classes include English, speech, typing, computer science, and business.

Postsecondary Training

You can learn typing and word processing skills through courses offered by colleges, business schools, and home-study programs. Some people learn keyboarding through self-teaching materials such as software programs or books. Business schools and community colleges often offer certificates or associate's degrees for typists and word processors.

For those who do not pursue such formal education, temporary agencies will often train workers in these skills. Generally, it takes a minimum of three to six months of experience to become a skilled word processor.

Word processors must be able to type 45 to 80 words per minute and should know the proper way to organize such documents as letters, reports, and financial statements. Increasingly, employers are requiring that employees know how to use various software programs for word processing, spreadsheet, and database management tasks.

Other Education or Training

The Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals offers classes and webinars. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers education and training programs for administrative professionals.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no specific certifications available for typists and word processors, but the International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the certified administrative professional (CAP) designation that might be of interest. Certification is awarded to applicants who meet experience/education requirements and pass a rigorous exam covering a number of general secretarial-related topics. The association also offers a technology applications specialty designation to those who have already earned the CAP designation. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Typing ability is key to landing a job as a typist. Generally, it takes a minimum of three to six months of experience to become a skilled word processor.

To be a successful typist and word processor, you need manual dexterity and the ability to concentrate. Typists and word processors should be alert, efficient, and attentive to detail. They often work directly with other people, so they need good interpersonal skills, including a courteous and cheerful demeanor. Good listening skills are important in order to transcribe recorded material.