Telephone switchboard operator

A telephone switchboard operator


Telephone switchboard operators establish telephone connections by using switchboards and consoles. They also answer customer inquiries and service problem reports.

The duties of a telephone switchboard operator include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring incoming calls to make sure they are answered within a reasonable amount of time
  • Providing information to callers, such as the location of nearby hospitals or emergency contacts for police, fire departments, or other services
  • Releasing information to the public regarding emergencies or other situations that may require evacuation
  • Answering questions about company policies and procedures
  • Recording incoming calls, messages, or facsimile transmissions and distributing them to the appropriate individual or department
  • Receiving and routing incoming calls to the appropriate person or department
  • Determining whether an incoming call is a sales solicitation or opportunity for another business or offering
  • Answering questions about company products or services offered by competitors
  • Monitoring calls to ensure that they are appropriate and handled in accordance with company policies

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to telephone switchboard operator:

receptionist telephone operator
communication centre operator
switchboard receptionist
telephone answering service operator
alarm centre dispatcher
telephone operator
switchboard operator

Working conditions

Telephone switchboard operators work in a variety of settings, including office buildings, hotels, and hospitals. They typically work in a well-lit, clean, and quiet environment. They sit at a switchboard console and answer incoming calls, connect calls, and provide information to callers. They also may take messages, transfer calls, and provide other customer service.

Telephone switchboard operators usually work in shifts that include evenings and weekends. They may work part time or full time.

Minimum qualifications

Telephone switchboard operators are typically required to have a high school diploma. Some employers may prefer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business or communications. Courses in business, communications and technology can help prepare you for a career as a switchboard operator.

Many employers require new telephone switchboard operators to complete a training program before they begin working. These programs typically last between one and three months and teach new employees the basics of the job, including how to use the phone system, how to transfer calls and how to handle emergency calls.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Telephone switchboard operator is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Telephone switchboard operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to telephone switchboard operator.

communication infrastructure maintainer
telecommunications technician
customer contact centre information clerk
call centre agent

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of telephone switchboard operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of telephone switchboard operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

ICT network technician
crisis helpline operator
ICT help desk agent
aviation data communications manager
education administrator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of telephone switchboard operator.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of telephone switchboard operator.

  • Use computer telephony integration: Utilise technology that allows interaction between telephone and computer. Enable call services directly within a desktop environment.
  • Answer incoming calls: Respond to customers’ inquiries and provide customers with appropriate information.
  • Use communication devices: Operate communication devices in order to interact with customers, colleagues, and others.
  • Redirect callers: Answer the phone as first contact person. Connect callers to the correct department or person.
  • Maintain telephony system: Prevent telephone faults. Report to the electricians for changing of the equipment and manage telephone installations and moves. Maintain voice-mail system which includes adding, deleting mailboxes and managing security codes and provide voicemail instruction for staff.
  • Communicate by telephone: Liaise via telephone by making and answering calls in a timely, professional and polite manner.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of telephone switchboard operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • ICT communications protocols: The system of rules which allow the exchange of information between computers or other devices via computer networks.
  • Concepts of telecommunications: The telecommunication principles, theories, models, equipment and processes such as transfer rate, bandwidth, signal-to-noise ratio, bit error ratio and C/N ratio, as well as the effect of the qualities of the transmission path on the operation and quality of telecommunications.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of telephone switchboard operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

4223 – Telephone switchboard operators

  1. Telephone switchboard operator – ESCO
  2. Switchboard Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By Joseph A. Carr –
Last updated on November 30, 2022

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