How to Become a Switchboard Operator

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014


Switchboards are necessary for the effective communication of a variety of organizations from hospitals to large corporations. Switchboard operators are trained workers that are responsible for managing a telephone switchboard and related equipment for an organization.

What does a switchboard operator do?

Switchboard operators manage telephone consoles and switchboards to connect, transfer, and hold incoming, outgoing, and interoffice telephone calls. They also operate other communications systems such as intercoms, public address systems, and two-way radios. They answer questions, provide information to callers, and refer callers to the necessary contacts. They also greet and announce visitors, take and record messages, and operate paging systems. Switchboard operators relay and route written and verbal messages and are responsible for stamping messages with the date and time and filing them correctly. They also keep records of calls placed and assess the applicable charges. Some monitor alarm systems and contact security members when issues arise. Some switchboard operators perform clerical tasks such as typing, filing paperwork, sorting mail, coordinating meetings, managing calendars, and correspondence. Switchboard operators often specialize in a specific area such as emergency response where they must appropriately route emergency calls.

What kind of training does a switchboard operator need?

Switchboard operators must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some switchboard operators complete switchboard operator training programs through technical and vocational schools or certificate programs. Most switchboard operators learn their skills through on the job training. Employers provide instruction on how to use telecommunications systems and outline the expectations, policies, and procedures. Many new switchboard operators start by observing experienced workers to learn the duties of the position. Some employers provide classroom instruction. Switchboard operators complete additional training as needed throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a switchboard operator?

Employment of switchboard operators is expected to decline rapidly, decreasing 10% through 2018 (1). New laborsaving communications technologies will impact employment growth.

Despite rapid decline, job prospects should be favorable because the turnover of the profession is very high. Switchboard operators with extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do switchboard operators make?

As of 2012, the middle 50% of switchboard operators earn annual salaries between $25,136 and $31,968. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $35,494 (2).

A career as a switchboard operator is a great choice for people with a strong interest in operating the switchboard and related equipment for a variety of organizations. Switchboard operators must have a solid understanding of the operation of a variety of telecommunications equipment. They must have a clear and pleasant voice, good enunciation, and excellent hearing skills. An aptitude for using computers and other equipment is also a valuable characteristic. Switchboard operators must have good communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with a variety of people. They must also be able to make quick effective decisions in stressful situations.

Becoming a Switchboard Operator Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Switchboard Operator? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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  • Hi

    I am currently on benefits JSA I would like to do a switchboard operators course I would like to know if I can get government funding also I can only attended college 15 hours per week but if I can show the benefits office that I will be able to get a Job at the end of the course they may allow me more hours

    Please can you advise me thank you

  • Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your inquiry and for visiting We assume you are referring to the UK’s job seeker’s allowance program. In general, if you are studying full-time, you won’t be eligible for JSA. And if you are studying part time, you will be required to show that you are available for full-time work. That said, you could investigate options such as studying online. We’d encourage you to speak with a qualified benefits adviser or your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

    College Mouse Team