Nav: Home | Inst. | Burs. | Careers
Telephonist / Switchboard Operator
Telephone operators operate switchboards, relaying incoming and inter-office calls to the correct parties. Calls are transferred and connections for outgoing calls are made. Information is supplied and charges determined for long-distance calls.

Telephone operators may arrange conference calls for businesses. In smaller organizations, general clerical duties including typing and filing, may be part of the work. In emergency situations, the telephonist may have to contact fire or police departments.

Satisfying Aspects
- working in a relatively stress-free environment
- working normal office hours, if employed in the private sector
- providing a service
- being complimented for efficiency, pleasant voice, etc.

Demanding aspects
- sitting for long periods
- doing the same thing every day
- dealing with unpleasant people
- if employed in the public sector, having to work shifts in some cases

A telephonist should:
- be at least 16 years old;
- enjoy working with the public;
- be pleasant and courteous;
- enjoy routine work tasks;
- work well under pressure;
- have a good ability to concentrate;
- have insight, a good memory, self-control and tact;
- have a clear and pleasant speaking voice;
- have good hearing;
- have manual dexterity;
- be proficient in official languages.

School Subjects
Grade 10 Certificate.
Employers prefer a National Senior Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: Languages
Recommended Subjects: None

Telephonists receive training under actual working conditions. The basic training period with full pay varies from 4 to 8 weeks or longer according to the candidate's ability to learn. Telephonists usually need some experience on small switchboards before being employed by companies with large switchboards.

Telkom offers a finishing course for the telephonist who is already employed and has been operating a switchboard for at least 3 to 6 months.

To be appointed as a telephonist, courses in speech, office practices and business methods will be helpful.

- Telkom
- Government departments
- Municipalities
- Banks and building societies
- All types of businesses and organisations
- Hospitals
- Hotels
- Educational institutions
- Large companies
- Departmental stores