Ten-key data entry, also tenkey or 10-key, uses the numerical keypad on a computer keyboard, a calculator or a 10-key pad to enter numeric data into computer systems and databases. The name comes from the 10 keys -- 0 to 9 -- that you use to enter data. This skill is used in many jobs where you input financial, coding or number-based information. Most data entry jobs require a minimum 10-key speed and level of accuracy.
The Numeric Keyboard
Ten-key data entry uses number keys rather than the letters of the alphabet. It may be computer-based, using the number pad at the side of a regular keyboard. Or, you can use a stand-alone 10-key pad connected to a computer by USB, or a calculator. If you are left-handed, you may find it easier to use a stand-alone device that you can position to suit you, or a left-handed keyboard.
Experienced ten-key data operators touch type, meaning they don't look at the keyboard or pad while entering data. Your main focus is the 0 to 9 keys. Your thumb sits on the 0, your baby finger on the Enter key, and your three middle fingers on the 4, 5 and 6 keys. These keys are the "Home" row. Some keyboards and pads have a raised dot on the number 5 as a position check.
Ten-key data entry jobs are commonly found in hospitals, accounting firms and operations, accounts, sales and marketing, and logistics departments. Responsibilities involve entering large volumes of financial information, reference numbers or inventory codes. Some data is sensitive. Operators can sometimes work from home or remotely, although many jobs are office-based. You don't necessarily need a qualification to get a job, but you may be tested to prove minimum speed and accuracy rates. Some jobs also require experience in a market sector.
Speed and Accuracy
Ten-key data entry job descriptions specify a minimum rate. This works on keys per minute, strokes per minute or keys per hour. You also need to be accurate. According to the Typing Institute of America, a proficient operator has 4,000 to 5,999 keystrokes per hour with an accuracy rate of 94 percent. A "Master" enters 12,000+ kph with 98 percent accuracy.
You can take classes to learn the basics of 10-key typing, either as part of a general typing course or as a stand-alone program, but speed and accuracy come down to practice. You can take free tests online to help you get up to speed, and some websites issue certificates to show your results. These are not usually formal qualifications and may not hold any weight with employers.
Ten-key data entry uses one hand and the same motions on a repetitive basis. Some people find that this causes strain; others suffer from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome that may be linked to the work they do. If you are doing a data-entry job, it may be worth using ergonomic aids, such as wrist pads or rests, to support your hand and to take regular breaks from typing.
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.