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Customer Service Representatives

At a Glance

  • Check into and clear up customer complaints
  • Regularly interact with customers
  • Work for banks, call centers, and insurance companies
  • Train on the job
  • May work part time or full time
  • May work days, nights, or weekends

Career summary

Customer service representatives work to solve customer complaints.

#matches 7421 Customer Service Rep, no alt titles

#check 3/18/19 lh

Customer service representatives check into and clear up customer complaints. These complaints may be about merchandise, service, billing, or credit. They work for companies that sell products and services.

Customer service representatives talk to customers to find out about the problem. In department stores, they may check merchandise, sales slips, or warranties. In banks, they may look at records and videotapes of ATM transactions. In utility companies, they may check meter books, records on microfilm, and accounting records. They may talk to other staff to get information about the situation.

Customer service representatives may decide to refund money, exchange merchandise, or credit customers' accounts. They may decide that nothing at all should be done.

Customer service representatives explain to customers what they found and what they can do. They may contact customers at a later date to make sure they are satisfied with the results. Representatives may suggest changes to managers to make sure the problem does not happen again.

Customer service representatives keep records of their contacts with customers. They prepare reports for managers.

Some customer service representatives may answer questions about the company's products or services. Others may help customers with purchases.

Customer service representatives are also called adjustment clerks.

Related careers

This career is part of the Business Management and Administration cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to customer service representatives.

Common work activities

Customer service representatives perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, customer service representatives:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Customer service representatives frequently:

It is important for customer service representatives to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for customer service representatives to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Customer service representatives need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a customer service representative, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You must have at least a high school diploma to enter this occupation. Some representatives have a college degree. Depending on the employer, you may need an associate or bachelor's degree.

Speaking more than one language can be a plus. Language skills help you prepare to work for a company that trades internationally.

Work experience

Work in sales, reception, or as an information clerk is good preparation for this occupation.

On-the-job training

Most customer service representatives learn their skills on the job. As a new representative, your supervisor or an experienced coworker trains you. Some employers provide formal training programs within their company. In these programs you learn to use the company's computer system. You learn which standard forms to use and who to contact in other departments. You also learn about the company's product line and services. Training generally lasts about one month.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers do not look for any formal education for customer service representative positions. However, many require a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers look for people with good communication skills. These include speaking, writing, and reading. They also look for people who get along well with others.

Employers also look for workers who are knowledgeable about their company's products or services. Workers who are careful and efficient under pressure and pleasant, patient, and tactful with customers are preferred.


Participate in extracurricular activities that develop communication skills. Find a summer or part-time job that deals directly with customers. Volunteer at your local Better Business Bureau or at a public agency to help survey and assess customer attitudes. Keep up to date on current legislation relating to consumers.

Costs to workers

Customer service representatives may be expected to wear business attire. Some workers may be required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and monthly dues.

#Took over national content as there was comment saying employers may prefer to hire applcants w/ basic computer skills so can learn company's system quickly - seems this now a requirement so deleted statement. 4/4/16 cj.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Customer service representatives (SOC 43-4051)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $12.70 $14.96 $18.25 $23.05 $28.72
Monthly $2,201 $2,593 $3,163 $3,995 $4,977
Yearly $26,420 $31,110 $37,960 $47,940 $59,730
    Bellingham Hourly $12.63 $14.39 $17.11 $20.47 $25.57
Monthly $2,189 $2,494 $2,965 $3,547 $4,431
Yearly $26,268 $29,942 $35,587 $42,559 $53,181
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $12.14 $13.10 $16.38 $21.13 $27.15
Monthly $2,104 $2,270 $2,839 $3,662 $4,705
Yearly $25,254 $27,246 $34,060 $43,948 $56,479
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $10.49 $12.72 $15.76 $20.17 $25.48
Monthly $1,818 $2,204 $2,731 $3,495 $4,416
Yearly $21,810 $26,470 $32,787 $41,960 $53,010
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $12.21 $13.73 $19.33 $24.33 $29.01
Monthly $2,116 $2,379 $3,350 $4,216 $5,027
Yearly $25,400 $28,553 $40,193 $50,596 $60,339
    Longview Hourly $11.99 $12.61 $16.61 $22.76 $26.81
Monthly $2,078 $2,185 $2,879 $3,944 $4,646
Yearly $24,949 $26,231 $34,560 $47,338 $55,756
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $12.09 $12.74 $15.28 $19.89 $25.09
Monthly $2,095 $2,208 $2,648 $3,447 $4,348
Yearly $25,139 $26,494 $31,779 $41,376 $52,198
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.77 $15.39 $18.34 $20.77 $25.32
Monthly $2,213 $2,667 $3,178 $3,599 $4,388
Yearly $26,571 $32,029 $38,159 $43,200 $52,661
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $13.82 $16.15 $19.38 $24.50 $30.46
Monthly $2,395 $2,799 $3,359 $4,246 $5,279
Yearly $28,742 $33,600 $40,307 $50,957 $63,355
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $12.22 $13.52 $16.85 $20.71 $25.03
Monthly $2,118 $2,343 $2,920 $3,589 $4,338
Yearly $25,419 $28,117 $35,053 $43,077 $52,077
    Vancouver Hourly $12.66 $14.82 $18.42 $23.19 $29.05
Monthly $2,194 $2,568 $3,192 $4,019 $5,034
Yearly $26,338 $30,825 $38,310 $48,236 $60,415
    Walla Walla Hourly $12.04 $12.40 $14.69 $19.34 $23.99
Monthly $2,087 $2,149 $2,546 $3,352 $4,157
Yearly $25,032 $25,803 $30,548 $40,214 $49,896
    Wenatchee Hourly $12.19 $13.50 $16.38 $21.73 $28.69
Monthly $2,113 $2,340 $2,839 $3,766 $4,972
Yearly $25,347 $28,074 $34,075 $45,180 $59,684
    Yakima Hourly $12.46 $14.11 $17.21 $21.42 $27.50
Monthly $2,159 $2,445 $2,982 $3,712 $4,766
Yearly $25,900 $29,360 $35,786 $44,555 $57,210
United States Hourly $10.65 $12.85 $16.23 $20.66 $26.59
Monthly $1,846 $2,227 $2,813 $3,580 $4,608
Yearly $22,140 $26,730 $33,750 $42,970 $55,310

Wages vary by employer and the representative's level of responsibility.

Many customer service representatives work for large companies that offer benefits to their full-time employees. Typical benefits include health insurance and a retirement plan. They also usually receive paid vacations and sick leave. Some customer service representatives may receive bonuses for increased sales or for good customer service. Those who work part time may not receive benefits, but may receive bonuses for quality work.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Customer Service Representatives (SOC 43-4051)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 55,326 17.0% 16.1% 9,468
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 1,037 12.2% 13.4% 164
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 584 7.5% 8.6% 84
    Benton and Franklin Counties 1,803 5.8% 15.0% 256
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 1,353 12.0% 11.9% 214
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 4,284 8.7% 15.2% 635
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 3,118 10.6% 14.1% 480
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 2,488 11.2% 14.6% 390
    King County 26,030 25.1% 19.6% 5,014
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 1,263 9.2% 13.8% 190
    Pierce County 5,434 2.1% 15.2% 704
    Snohomish County 3,982 7.7% 12.4% 580
    Spokane County 4,905 6.3% 13.9% 693
United States 2,972,600 -1.7% 5.2% 387,600

National employment

Customer service representative positions are located throughout the nation. The types of companies are as varied as the type of products imaginable. These jobs are located in small towns as well as big cities. Some larger companies may hire several customer service representatives. Other companies may only hire one or two.

Major employers:

National outlook

There will be little to no growth in this occupation. This is because many customer service representative tasks can be automated. Customers are able to perform simple customer service tasks using Internet self-service or interactive systems.

However, growth is expected in business support centers to handle complex inquiries such as confirming insurance coverage or refunding accounts. 

Many job openings will occur as people leave this occupation. Job prospects will be best in telephone call centers.

Other resources

Communications Workers of America (external link)
501 - 3rd Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Council of Better Business Bureaus (external link)
3033 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22201
Professional Association for Customer Engagement (external link)
5250 E US 36, Suite #1102B
Avon, IN 46123
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters