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How to Become a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives typically have at least a high school diploma and are usually trained on the job. They must be good at communicating and interacting with people. They also need basic computer and phone skills.


Customer service representatives are typically trained on the job. Training usually lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, although it can last as long as several months. This training generally focuses on the company and its products, customers’ most commonly asked questions, and the computer and telephone systems the representatives will be using. New workers may handle easier questions or complaints and receive extra supervision and support. An increasing number of customer service representatives receive training in a classroom setting and also through shadowing another customer service representative.

Some customer service representatives are expected to update their training regularly. This is particularly true of workers in industries, such as banking, in which regulations and products are continually changing.


Customer service representatives typically have at least a high school diploma. Some workers may need some college education or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, as employers increasingly demand a more skilled workforce.


Customer service representatives who answer questions about insurance or financial services often need a state license. Licensure requirements vary, but usually include passing a written exam. Some employers may provide training for these exams.  

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Customer service representatives need strong listening and speaking skills to clearly and accurately respond to customer inquiries and concerns. They must listen carefully to customers to understand their needs and concerns to be able to resolve the call as efficiently and effectively as possible. Workers who interact with customers by email, live chat, or other non-voice contact channels must write well, using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Customer service skills. Customer service representatives must respond to questions and complaints in a friendly and professional manner.

Interpersonal skills. Customer service representatives interact with many different people. Creating and maintaining positive relationships is an essential part of a customer service representative’s job.

Patience. Workers must be patient and polite, especially when dealing with difficult or angry customers.

Problem-solving skills. When addressing customer issues, customer service representatives need to analyze situations, investigate problems, and determine solutions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition