Ten key skills are used mainly for data entry positions, office assistant positions, and clerical jobs. They use either an adding machine or a numeric pad on the right side of a computer keyboard to input numbers. A person with good ten key skills needs to be fast and accurate.
As with other administrative assistant skills, most recruiting agencies or human resources departments are likely to test applicants on how well they can input data. A ten key class can be taken at a local community college or online. A Google search for 'ten key testing' will also bring up some good sites with free tests and more information on how to become better at your 10 key skills.
So how is your testing determined? By speed and accuracy. An entry-level position that requires 10 key skills will ask for 8,000-10,000 KPH (keystrokes per hour) with at least a 98% accuracy. A more advanced position will look for around 15,000 KPH with 99% accuracy. The tests are normally timed, usually anywhere from 5-10 minutes. If your HR recruiter doesn't offer a practice test first, ask or make sure it is included in the testing. Usually before you take the actual test you have at least one or two opportunities to practice. This is important, especially if you are nervous or need to familiarize yourself with the testing equipment.
The best way to improve your 10 key skills is practice, practice, practice! Practice every day at least an hour a day. Focus more on the accuracy; the speed will follow naturally. Make sure if you are applying for a job that you indicate your KPH on your resume, especially if it is worth bragging about. Don't forget to indicate if your 10 key is by sight or by touch. By sight means that you have to be looking at the keyboard as you enter the data; by touch means you can do it without looking.
What kind of jobs can you expect from having awesome 10 key skills? The banking industry is one example. Tellers and proof operators need them even with today's advanced technology. Although bank tellers work day shifts, proof operators sometimes are needed for second or even third shift positions. The healthcare industry also utilizes medical assistants with exceptional ten key skills. Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable departments need people with 10 key to quickly and accurately enter invoice information, set up vendor accounts and lines of credit, etc. Some of these jobs are entry-level but can be good beginning positions that can transfer into a more administrative support job.
Even if you feel like you won't need to use 10 key that much, don't neglect it. It is just one more marketable skill to add to your resume!