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What is a Call Center Job?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A call center job is customer service work that is done on a remote basis using telephone and/or computer equipment. The two types jobs in this industry are inbound, in which calls are received, and outbound, in which calls are made. Either type of job may be home-based, but many call centers have an on site location with hundreds of employees.

Businesses such as cable and Internet providers, credit card companies, airlines and many others often outsource customer service work to call centers as their employees don’t usually have the time to spend on extensive customer issues. Call centers exist world-wide, but India is a popular choice for many companies as call centers in India are known to provide high quality work at a low cost. By 2004, the information technology (IT) sector, which enables the technology used in call centers, increased in India by an amazing 54%.

A call center job in most countries, including India, is often done in a casual, yet professional environment with air-conditioning and a lunch room. Some call centers are quite sophisticated and may include an onsite gym, cafeteria and break room with computer games and/or a television. A few call centers even provide a shuttle transportation service for their workers. Shifts can be long, and workers may need to be available anytime from early in the morning to late in the evening.

Working at an outbound call center requires workers to place calls using a list of contacts and a written sales script. This work is known as telemarketing. Outbound call center workers may be doing direct sales work such as asking for a donation or they may give the recipients of their calls information and try to book appointments for outside sales representatives to follow up on. Outbound call center workers may be asked to up-sell, or promote additional products and services.

An inbound call center job requires workers to answer incoming calls from customers. This work can be more unpredictable than outbound call center work as the worker does not know who will be calling with what problem, complaint or request for information. The inbound call center worker must have a thorough knowledge of the products, services and policies of the company he or she is representing. Some jobs in call centers require extensive technical knowledge of the product or service and Technical Service Representatives communicate with customers to troubleshoot problems with the product or service.

Customer Service Specialist, Contact Center Representative and Account Service Retention are some of the titles associated with a call center job. Although it may sound easy to sit down and speak to people on the phone even for the long shifts typical of this type of job, call center work has many different elements to it and it’s not something that everyone has the skills to do and would want to do. Speaking to people with the same calling script, or hearing nothing but complaints and problems, day in and day out, can be very stressful. Also, people in these jobs must never, under any circumstances, be rude or lose his or her temper in any way during calls and this requires a lot of patience.

On the plus side, a call center job can be good experience for those interested in careers dealing with people. An entry level job at a cal center usually requires no experience so it does provide a good opportunity to those with the communication skills and patience, but without office or job experience. Pay rates vary, but in general, they are fairly low, with most starting close to minimum wage. However, it is possible for call center workers to double and triple their starting wages within five years if they get promoted to team leader, supervisor and manager.

Those with patience, good communication skills and the ability to handle a large volume of calls per shift may want to contact large companies to find out if they have call center jobs. Caution should be exercised against work at home ads that sound to good to be true or companies that ask for payment for training. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can be contacted to check out the legitimacy of call centers.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon970273 — On Sep 17, 2014

Can anyone tell me how many hours you are expected to spend on the phone in a sales call center?

By Chmander — On Feb 15, 2014

@Viranty - I'm sorry you had that experience. However, not all jobs at call centers are like horror stories. During my senior year of college, I worked at a call center on campus. The pay was rather low, and though I didn't make much money, it was very relaxing. However, I think I had an advantage because the people I would call were associated with my college, and my boss was a friend of mine.

By Viranty — On Feb 14, 2014

@RoyalSpyder - I definitely know where you're coming from. I used to work at a call center, and I can definitely say it wasn't a very pleasant experience. I was forced to work more than forty hours a week, and my boss treated me rather unfair. He spoke to me any way he felt, and even threatened to fire me on several instances, just because he "could".

As an example, one time at work, my Mom kept calling me on the phone, and I went to the bathroom to tell her to stop calling me. My boss noticed, and told me to get my "so and so" off the phone.

Thankfully, I found a new job, but it's amazing how low some people will treat you at jobs like these.

By RoyalSpyder — On Feb 13, 2014

I've worked at a call center before, and although I didn't mind the work, I didn't like how I was treated by my boss. With low-paying jobs such as those, I generally find that you're treated about as low as the job. In other words, whether you're working at a call center or even at McDonald's, jobs like those seem to give your boss a reason to treat you poorly. They feel that you must not be very smart if you're working such a pitiful job, and they treat you even worse. It's a harsh truth, but it's bound to happen when some places employ you.

By Chmander — On Feb 13, 2014

I like how the article states that a lot of people need patience when working at call centers. Not only can sitting down all day and answering hundreds of calls get tiresome after a while, but even more so, you're always guaranteed to get rude customers. No matter how friendly you are, there will always be those who give you a hard time just for the sake of it. It's always best to keep your composure, as the customer is always "right", even if they're wrong. Besides, you wouldn't want to lose your job, now would you?

By anon351034 — On Oct 10, 2013

Yes, they do promote an unhealthy lifestyle because they think that's all you have to do and nothing else. You get write-ups, then you have to push sales upon sales, and more write-ups.

Right now, my call center is in a lawsuit so I hope they lose, get put out of business and that client takes them to the cleaners. After I leave here, I'm never, ever working at call centers again, even if they pay more money. It's not worth my health nor my time.

If call centers are the thing for people who like it, then by all means go for it. But I'm getting off this ship and moving on when I get a new and different job.

By anon346724 — On Aug 31, 2013

I've worked in three different call centers in three years. It's clearly not for me. I can't speak for anyone else about being afraid of taking this on. The advice I would give anyone is to do what it is that you feel is best for you. It's not for everyone, but you won't know until you try. If you have been given an opportunity to try it, then try it, if it doesn't work out then, try something else. Good luck to you all!

By anon301401 — On Nov 03, 2012

I am candidate for a call center job. I read all the comments and now am afraid. What can I do now?

By anon297313 — On Oct 15, 2012

I have worked in a call center for four years. Trust me, you do not want to do this unless you are absolutely desperate and cannot face life on the streets. Not only will you be sitting for eight-plus hours per day, you will also be treated like dirt by customers, co-workers and the company you work for. Listen to anon180550; this is exactly what it will really be like. Even cleaning houses or working as a janitor is more fun than working in a call center.

By Mochikomochi — On Sep 09, 2011

Is it okay that I'm not good in English speaking?

By anon180550 — On May 26, 2011

I've worked at some call centers, I never will again. It is my personal hell. You will work for demanding creeps that only want more and more out of you, and your reward for stressful and awful hours from angry customers is being griped at by both customers and your supervisors. You will have many, many dumbass supervisors that are only interested in unrealistic numbers you are expected to hit, and then expect to be griped at some more about issues which are out of your control. Years of my life I will never get back, and I have nothing to show for it except bitterness and premature aging.

By anon168591 — On Apr 18, 2011

I'm a licensed teacher but still have no job. i want to apply in a call center company but i am not good in typing and my communication skills are not so good. i mean at an average level. can you give me a piece of advice?

By anon160822 — On Mar 17, 2011

My name is Nabeel. i have worked in a call center about eight years. i worked in different projects. a person should have good communication skills because without this, the person can't speak properly to any customer.

By anon143337 — On Jan 15, 2011

You need a ton of patience. You deal with people with a huge range of communication styles - you have to be patient while they ask their question. They may not understand what you tell them to do, they may ask a lot of additional questions. i think that patience and good communication skills are good pre-requisites for a job in a call center.

By anon119604 — On Oct 18, 2010

I'm a teacher and have been for almost two years. I have a lot of job experience but i have been jobless for almost five. I want to go back in job again and I choose the call center, but I fear to apply because i think I'm not qualified for that position. what will I do? I'm eager to apply to the call center but I have fear I'm not really a good speaker in english.

By anon105049 — On Aug 18, 2010

i was a nurse, but having a very hard time landing a job, since i wasn't very good in typing. can you please help me brush-up my typing skills. i was very eager to have a job in a call center, but due to my poor typing skill, i couldn't be hired. can you please tell me somewhere that can help me to speed up my typing skills? thanks a lot.

i am very much in need of a job, and i hope you can extend your helping hand to me. thanks a lot, rosa c.

By anon90333 — On Jun 15, 2010

i am a call center agent myself. Well in its crudest definition, call center job is being able to withstand mental stress at the same time delivering excellent performance and customer satisfaction over the phone.. -- diana

By anon68105 — On Mar 01, 2010

why does a call center agent need to have patience?

By anon57678 — On Dec 26, 2009

You know, work at home call center jobs is a home based call center jobs.

I know it because I was looking for telemarketing jobs and I found inbound call center jobs. I know this is good and I'm using it to the extent so that I could get my job in my city. This really is a good site.

By anon28006 — On Mar 10, 2009

Does the call center industry promote an unhealthy lifestyle?

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