Computer operators oversee the operation of computer hardware systems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer operators control both mainframes and minicomputers, along with various peripheral devices connected to computer systems. As of May 2008, the bureau reports that the median annual salary of computer operators was $35,600. Computer operators need various technical skills and specialized knowledge.

Operational Skills

A key skill for computer operators is the ability to monitor operations and detect problems. Computer operators need to be able to pick up on variations or changes in a computer's performance. They also need to be able diagnose the the problem and fix it. This may require replacing malfunctioning equipment or software. Computer operators enter commands, as necessary, and respond to error messages. Computer operators also use debugging programs to speed up and enhance computer performance.

Communications Skills

Computer operators must be able to read and comprehend technical information such as operation manuals and technical diagrams. They need to have excellent communications skills so that they can effectively convey information to those who need to know it. Computer operators must also be able to listen actively, asking questions to obtain information to get to the root of the problem.

Technological Skills and Knowledge

Computer operators need to know how each piece of computer equipment can affect the performance of the whole. Computer operators need to have knowledge of computer operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, UNIX and Sun Microsystems Java Enterprise System. They also need familiarity with database user interface software such as Teradata Enterprise Data Warehouse, IBM DB2, Microsoft Access and Sybase SQL Anywhere. The computer operator also need knowledge of network monitoring software like Hewlett-Packard HP OpenView software and Novell NetWare.

Clerical and Customer Service Skills

Computer operators need to have basic clerical and customer service skills in addition to their technical knowledge. Computer operators need to have basic word processing skills and must be able to manage files and records. They need to have basic knowledge of telecommunications systems and how to use them. According to O*NET Online, computer operators need to have basic customer service skills also, such as the ability to assess and meet customer needs.