What Is a Good Typing Speed for Jobs?

Before computers took over the world, touch typing was a massive part of education. In the U.S., secretaries learned touch typing on typewriters for decades, and school-age students later got typing classes to prepare them for real-world jobs.

Unfortunately, those clerical skills may be dwindling. Assuming their students are digital natives, many schools opt out of keyboard classes altogether! Even many older workers still default to the “hunt and peck” method to make up for skipped typing classes in the past.

That’s why testing for typing skills is crucial with any position. However, what is a good typing speed for jobs? How do you figure out which employees can keep up?

Here’s what every employer should know about typing speed.

Understanding the Basics of WPM

Before we dive into the details, there’s one important thing to cover. How do we measure how fast an employee types?

The standard unit of measurement for typing speed is words per minute (WPM). This measurement is exactly what it sounds like: how many total words a person types in one minute.

However, things get a little more complex from there.

We can’t just take an employee’s total word count and divide it by the number of minutes they’ve been typing. We also need a definition for what counts as a single “word.”

If you have an employee type up a casual email, they’ll often use shorter words. Compare this with an employee who’s typing up a white paper filled with scientific terms and technical jargon. Using the WPM calculation above, the second employee would be penalized for having typed fewer words per minute, even though their average word might have been far longer!

That’s why most WPM calculators count a single “word” as five characters. In other words, it would be more accurate to say that we’re calculating how many five-character chunks a person can type in one minute.

These characters include keystrokes like spaces, punctuation, and numbers. However, pressing the shift, backspace, or delete button does not count as a character.

To get an employee’s gross WPM, you’d count all the characters on the page, divide it by five, and divide by the total time (in minutes) spent typing.

Calculating Accuracy With WPM

We don’t just want employees to type fast; we also need them to type with accuracy. That’s where their net WPM comes in.

Net WPM measures both speed and accuracy. An employee who types fast but makes constant mistakes may have a lower net WPM than an employee who types slower but with no mistakes.

As an employer, net WPM is often a better testing tool for employees. Employees with a higher net WPM spend less time backtracking and correcting errors. You’re also less likely to have to edit their work or worry about uncorrected mistakes getting into their documents.

To find an employee’s net WPM, you’ll first need their gross WPM. Once you have it, subtract the number of mistaken characters they entered and left in the document.

You can instead subtract the total number of mistakes made, even those they corrected during the minutes they were typing. However, it’s helpful to encourage corrections, as we want employees to create documents that require the least amount of edits. What’s more, some typists can still reach a high net WPM even while making corrections, so penalizing them for errors despite their high speed may do your company and the typist a disservice.

Because it’s so useful, net WPM is what most people are talking about when they say “WPM.” It’s also the score most calculators and tests will try to find.

Why the Average Typing Speed Matters

We’ve hinted at this above, but it’s important to talk about why employee typing speed matters. There are a few key reasons:


The biggest reason to check an employee’s typing speed is to gauge their workplace productivity. The longer it takes an employee to type a document, the lower their productivity. If an employee is hunting and pecking at the letters on their keyboard, they’ll have much less time to spend on the rest of their work!

Let’s go back to WPM to illustrate this.

If an employee needs to write a 1500-word document and can do so at around 60 WPM with no errors, it will take them around five minutes. (Remember that a “word” is a five-character bundle.) If they can only do so at 30 WPM with no errors, the same task will take them ten minutes.

If the employee has a job that revolves around inputting data, typing speed is a critical metric!


Don’t forget that WPM measures accuracy as well. Workers with a higher WPM often produce more accurate content. This means they’ll spend even less time hunting for errors, and you won’t have to worry about having someone edit their work.

Digital Responsiveness

In today’s digital world, communication happens fast. Customers and clients expect brands to be on the ball, shooting off fluid responses without delay.

More efficient typists are better at creating these rapid responses, allowing your company to engage in seamless communication when you need it most.

What Is a Good Typing Speed for Jobs?

Now that we know the basics, what WPM should you expect from your employees? This answer is also more complex than you’d think!

The average typing speed in the U.S. is around 52 WPM. However, depending on your workplace, it may be in your best interests to find employees with much faster typing speeds. This gives your employees and your brand a competitive advantage.

Though requirements may vary, here are the WPMs you can expect based on the job type:

Average WPMs (40-60 WPM)

For roles that don’t require a lot of typing, a moderate typing speed may be all your employee needs. Positions that focus on things like analysis, sales, education, or customer service may not require fast speeds.

However, keep in mind that most modern roles still demand some typing. Even a customer service representative who spends most of the time on the phone may have to type call data into a digital CRM, for example. Even manufacturing, transportation, and construction workers may sometimes need basic typing skills.

Moderate WPMs (60-80 WPM)

If a role requires a moderate to high amount of typing, higher WPMs of 60-80 can increase your employee’s productivity. This is important for roles that revolve around journalism, research, administration, or reporting, for example. While even higher WPMs can boost your employee’s speed, it may not be enough to make a large difference in their time management.

High WPMs (80+ WPM)

Some jobs focus on typing first and foremost. In these roles, your employee will spend 90% or more of their time typing on a keyboard.

This is true for positions that revolve around things like data entry, technical writing, transcription, content creation, and programming. It’s crucial to focus on recruiting employees with high-level typing skills to boost their efficiency, productivity, and communication in the role.

Some roles, such as court stenographers, must type over 150 WPM. Some can type even faster, though the current typing record is around 300 WPM.

How Do You Test Typing Speed?

It’s possible for employees to self-report their average WPM using free online typing calculators.

However, this isn’t the best way for your organization to collect data on its employees, nor is it an ideal way to gauge their actual typing speed. Because various online tests may use different metrics (for example, counting mistakes in the net WPM vs. leaving them out), you might get a range of disparate answers that can be hard to compare.

Instead, the smarter move is to have your employees take a single typing test. This allows you to standardize your reporting and get scores that are easier to understand side by side.

If you’re hiring, it’s ideal to check typing speed as part of the pre-screening or employee test process. This allows you to rule out candidates who wouldn’t have the productivity to perform their tasks at speed. It also ensures that you’re only considering candidates who are the right match for the job!

That’s where we come in.

Our typing tests make it easy to calculate your workers’ keyboard skills in no time. The automated software is intuitive and easy to administer, and it’s even easy to adapt to specific industries. Whether you’re checking typing skills for a role in bookkeeping, sales, marketing, or another field altogether, our office skills tests can help.

These tests also allow you to support workers who might need extra help. If you have an otherwise high-performing worker whose productivity suffers due to low typing speed, helping them invest in their skills may make their job easier.

Start Testing Clerical Skills Today

What is a good typing speed for jobs? At the end of the day, the answer depends on your needs! Consider the amount of data your employee will need to handle, the type of writing your employee will do, and how much of their job will be in front of a computer to figure out which WPM you should look for.

As you weigh your employees’ clerical skills, make sure to partner with Success Performance Solutions. Our huge range of assessments makes it easy to measure current employees and job candidates alike, no matter your industry. For more information, call us at 800-803-4303 or reach out online with questions.