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Career Advice

How to Become a Typist

Computer_keyboardYou would be forgiven for imagining, that pretty much anyone who is proficient in the use of a keyboard could make a successful application for a typist position…but you’d be wrong. Whilst of course, typing prowess is a major component of what makes a good typist, there are many more things which need to be considered – indeed keyboard proficiency is merely the beginning. In this guide, we will walk you through some of the most important things you need to be aware of if you plan to embark on a career as a typist… hopefully we are hitting the right ‘key’.

What does a typist actually do?

On a basic level, a typist (who is sometimes be referred to as a word processor) is a person who uses a computer to create a range of documents which can include letters, memos, emails and reports. But as with most roles, the reality of the day to day duties is much more diverse than the career title would suggest.

Firstly, we need to take a look at the different kinds of typists which exist. As a word processor, your role might encompass only one, or a number of these different categories of typing, and each of them is subject to its own set of specific skills and competencies.

1.  Copy typist – Creates computer documents based on handwritten notes.

2. Shorthand typist – Uses shorthand to take handwritten notes which are typed properly at a later time.

3.  Audio Typist – Types notes from an audio source, such as a dictaphone, into all manner of documents including letters, memos, reports, product descriptions for advertising etc.

Although there are roles available which only require you to type, the vast majority of ‘typist’ or ‘word processor’ roles will also require you to carry out a certain level of general administrative tasks.  These tasks might include.

  • General filing duties
  • Answering telephones
  • Some secretarial work
  • Working with all major Microsoft Office software which could include Excel and Powerpoint

Skills and Personal Attributes

To have a successful career as a typist you need to be furnished with a broad range of both general skills and also very specialised skills.

Some of the specialised skills and competencies which can be very useful in the role of typist include;

  • The highest level of keyboard skills which allow you to type very quickly and with flawless precision
  • An outstanding grasp of the english language to include an exceptionally good understanding of punctuation and grammar
  • The ability to multi task, for example in the case of an audio typist role you must be able to use both the keyboard and audio control pedals at the same time.
  • Proficient in the use of at least one system of shorthand- the most commonly used in the English language is Pitman shorthand
  • Precise knowledge of standard layout of documents such as memos, reports and official letters.
  • Good general computer skills which will allow you to adapt to the use of various software packages.

Some of the more general skills and attributes which could be required for the role of typist include;

  • Outstanding skills of written and verbal communication
  • The ability to work swiftly and accurately
  • The desire to work in an environment which may often involve tight deadlines
  • An exceptional eye for detail

moneyWorking hours and salary

One of the great things about having the abilities to become a typist is that there are usually very flexible working arrangements available, which allow you to work a schedule which is suited to your lifestyle.  Many employers offer both full-time and part-time positions, which can often be completed on a ‘flexi-time’ basis.

Generally speaking, a typist working full time can expect to earn somewhere in the region of £15,000 per year, but this could also increase to £20,000+ if there are extra duties and responsibilities tied into the job. As always, these factors will vary from employer to employer, so be sure to check with the business in question before making your application.


Whilst there are a number of official qualifications available related to the role of typist, none will usually be demanded.  Generally speaking, an employer will determine your level of typing ability based on the results of  a typing test, which will normally be carried out as part of the shortlisting process. The employer may require that you hold a certain level of general education and will normally request minimum GCSE (or equivalent) grades in maths and English.

Holding specific qualifications related to the role however will increase your chances of getting interviewed and give you a certain level of professional credibility. Here is a list of some of the qualifications which could be useful in your career.

  • OCR Award in Text Processing (Business Professional)
  • City & Guilds NVQ Award, Certificate or Diploma in Business and Administration
  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Business (Administration)
  • the 14-19 Diploma in Business, Administration and Finance.

If you still fancy a career as a typist then we wish you the very best of luck and hope that you have found this quick guide useful. But, if the thought of all that relentless tapping makes you shudder, then you might like to take a look in our rather marvellous career directory.



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