How to Get Started in Freelance Data Entry

Freelance data entry positions allow individuals to work out of their homes either on a full-time or part-time basis. Data entry work can involve completing simple tasks, such as entering names and addresses into a database, to more complex assignments, such as transcribing dictated medical reports. Regardless of the project, data entry workers need to possess quick typing skills and excellent grammar skills; they also need the ability to work independently.


Enroll in a 1-year certificate in data entry or a 2-year associate’s degree in secretarial science through a community college or business school. During the program, you will study such topics as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, business communications and office management. Students enrolled in the associate’s degree program will also have the option to take specialized courses in the areas of medicine, law and graphic design. These specialized courses may include medical transcription, medical terminology, legal transcription, legal terminology and desktop publishing. Graduates who specialize in medical transcription have the option to sit for an exam to receive their Certified Medical Transcriptionist credential through the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI). Individuals who obtain certification increase their chances of finding employment and obtaining a higher salary.


Work at an actual place of business as a data entry operator for about 1 to 2 years before you apply for a freelance data entry position. Graduates can work in medical offices, law offices, insurance companies, state government offices, schools or hospitals. You can find data entry jobs through the local newspaper or an employment agency. Other job titles for data entry positions include clerk typists, word processors or transcriptionists.

Online Freelance Data Entry

Look for reputable online sites that offer freelance or telecommuting work. These sites may include work-at-home mom forums that contain job postings or online companies that require workers to bid on data entry projects, such as Data entry workers interested in medical transcription can apply to online transcription services that offer freelance work. Such services require applicants to have 1 to 2 years of experience in medical transcription and take an online transcription test.

When applying for a freelance data entry job, watch out for bogus companies that offer freelance work but require you to pay a fee. Also, read every piece of information on the employer’s website, especially any contracts, and look for websites that are registered with the Better Business Bureau.

Local Freelance Data Entry

Place an ad in the local newspaper offering your typing and transcribing services for such projects as business letters, book manuscripts, meeting minutes, resumes and cover letters. Set up a home office complete with word processing software, accounting software, fax machine, a separate phone line for business calls, and a foot pedal and earphones for any transcription work.