To become a switchboard operator, you will need to have a clear and pleasant phone voice, good hearing and good overall communication skills. Having computer skills and being able to type and write quickly are important for taking messages. To quickly learn the phone system and paging system, if there is one that the organization uses, an aptitude for using computers and electronic equipment is important. In addition, you usually will need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED in the United States, to work as a switchboard operator.
Switchboard operators are the first representatives of a company or organization that many people speak with, including potential clients and customers. Having a patient, people-oriented personality will help ensure your success in the position. To become a switchboard operator, you will have to be able to think and act quickly to answer a large volume of calls, answer questions, transfer calls to the appropriate personnel or take messages. Being flexible and being able to stay calm under pressure are important.
At some organizations, switchboard operators are expected to perform other clerical duties as well as managing the switchboard. You might be expected to file paperwork, open mail, answer correspondence and do other things. Being able to multitask is important. At some organizations, the switchboard operator also is the receptionist, so having a professional appearance can help you become a switchboard operator.
Many people learn to become switchboard operators through on-the-job training. This usually is the norm, because different organizations use different phone systems. The organization might provide more formalized training classes or have you sit in with a working switchboard operator to learn the ropes. There also are training programs that offer classes in switchboard operation skills. These can be found through technical schools and through administrative and clerical certificate programs.
To become a switchboard operator, you first need to find a job in the field. After you create a résumé that highlights your appropriate skills and experience for the position, contact employment agencies that place clerical and administrative personnel. You also can search online at different job sites and in newspapers.
A wide variety of companies and organizations need switchboard operators, though the numbers are declining as more organizations add automated phone systems. Still, finding a position in the field can lead to many other opportunities. Switchboard operators interact with a wide variety of personnel in different positions.