Switchboard Operator, Including Answering Service  What They Do

Just the Facts


Operates telephone business systems equipment or switchboards to relay incoming, outgoing, and interoffice calls. May supply information to callers and record messages.

This career is part of the Business, Management and Administration cluster Administrative Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Answers incoming calls, greeting callers, providing information, transferring calls or taking messages as necessary.
  • Operates communication systems, such as telephone, switchboard, intercom, two-way radio, or public address.
  • Pages individuals to inform them of telephone calls, using paging or interoffice communication equipment.
  • Relays or routes written or verbal messages.
  • Places telephone calls or arranges conference calls as instructed.
  • Performs various data entry or word processing tasks, such as updating phone directories, typing or proofreading documents, or creating schedules.
  • Processes incoming or outgoing mail, packages, or deliveries.
  • Performs administrative tasks, such as accepting orders, scheduling appointments or meeting rooms, or sending and receiving faxes.
  • Records messages, suggesting rewording for clarity or conciseness.
  • Monitors alarm systems to ensure that secure conditions are maintained.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Administrative Assistant -- Aids executive in staff capacity by coordinating office services, such as personnel, budget preparation and control, housekeeping, records control, and special management studies.
  • Dispatcher -- Operates radios and other telecommunication equipment to dispatch emergency vehicles and to coordinate the activities of drivers and other personnel.
  • Front Desk Receptionist -- Answers incoming calls, provides information to clients or people visiting the office premises, and provides clerical and administrative support to the office.
  • Private Branch Exchange (PBX) Operator -- Responsible for the overall operation of a company's private telephone system.
  • Police District Switchboard Operator -- Operates switchboard to receive and transmit police communications.