What is a Data Labeler? (+ Companies, Tools, Salary, and More)

What is a Data Labeler? (+ Companies, Tools, Salary, and More)

Data labeling is a crucial part of the human-in-the-loop (HITL) job market and plays a significant role in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). As more companies develop AI and ML technologies, the demand for data annotators continues to grow.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to data labeling jobs, ideal for those considering these opportunities.

What is Data Labeling?

Data labeling (or data annotation) is the process of assigning meaningful tags, labels, or annotations to raw data, such as images, text, audio, or video, to make it understandable and usable by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms.

Data labelers typically work on crowdsourcing platforms or as part of teams within companies that develop AI and ML technologies. They may be employed as freelancers or full-time workers, depending on the company and project requirements.

What Does a Data Labeler Do?

Data labelers are responsible for annotating and categorizing various types of data to make them understandable and usable by AI and ML algorithms. Some common data labeling tasks include:

  • Image annotation: Labelers identify and label objects, boundaries, and features in images. This can involve drawing bounding boxes around objects or assigning tags to specific elements.
  • Text classification: Labelers categorize text data based on predefined labels, such as sentiment analysis, topic classification, or keyword extraction.
  • Audio transcription and labeling: Labelers transcribe spoken language from audio files and label specific sounds, accents, or emotions.
  • Video annotation: Labelers identify and label objects, actions, or events in video sequences, often combining image and audio labeling techniques.

Data labeling has numerous applications, from self-driving cars and facial recognition systems to natural language processing and customer service chatbots. As AI and ML technologies advance, the need for accurate and high-quality labeled data increases.

Companies Offering Data Labeling Jobs

Several crowdsourcing platforms offer data labeling jobs, including:

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a popular crowdsourcing platform that connects workers with businesses requiring data labeling tasks. The platform features a wide range of HITL jobs, including data labeling, with tasks varying in complexity and compensation. Workers, known as "Turkers," can choose tasks that match their skills and interests, making it a flexible option for those looking to start in data labeling.


Appen is a global company specializing in AI and ML services, offering various data labeling tasks on its platform. They often have projects involving image annotation, text classification, and audio transcription, among others. Appen is known for providing more stable, long-term projects compared to other platforms, making it an attractive option for data labelers seeking consistent work opportunities.


Clickworker is a crowdsourcing platform that provides data labeling jobs alongside other microtasks, such as text creation, surveys, and web research. The platform offers a user-friendly interface and a diverse range of tasks, making it suitable for beginners in data labeling. Clickworker allows workers to complete tasks at their convenience, providing flexibility and freedom to manage their workload.

TELUS International

TELUS International AI (formerly Lionbridge AI) is a multinational company offering data labeling jobs as part of its AI and ML services. The company typically focuses on image, text, and audio data labeling and has a reputation for more stringent qualification requirements. Telus International offers competitive pay rates and often provides training for its data labelers, making it a good choice for those seeking to improve their skills and work on more complex tasks.

Other crowdsourcing platforms

Smaller or regional platforms, like Remotasks or Microworkers, also offer data labeling jobs. These platforms may have fewer tasks and projects available compared to larger platforms but can still provide valuable experience and opportunities for data labelers. By diversifying across multiple platforms, workers can increase their chances of finding consistent work and expand their skills in different types of data labeling tasks.

Skills and Qualifications

Data annotators typically need the following skills and qualifications:

  • Basic computer literacy: Proficiency in using computers and the internet.
  • Attention to detail: The ability to accurately identify and label data.
  • Language and cultural knowledge: Some tasks require specific language skills or cultural context.
  • Familiarity with labeling tools and software: While not mandatory, experience with relevant tools can be beneficial.

Getting Started as a Data Labeler

To start as a data labeler, follow these steps:

  1. Research and sign up for crowdsourcing platforms.
  2. Complete your profile with accurate information and any relevant skills.
  3. Take qualification tests, if required by the platform.
  4. Start with small tasks to gain experience and build your reputation.
  5. Regularly check for new tasks and opportunities.

Earning Potential and Payment

Payment structures for data annotation jobs can vary significantly based on the platform, task complexity, worker's experience, and location. The following breakdown offers a more detailed look at the potential salary for data labelers.

Pay Per Task

Many platforms pay data labelers on a per-task basis. For example, Amazon Mechanical Turk uses a system where requesters set the payment amount for each task. These payments can range from a few cents to several dollars, depending on the task's complexity and duration. On average, workers on these platforms may earn between $3 and $7 per hour.

Hourly Rates

Some platforms or projects offer hourly rates for data labeling tasks. For instance, Appen and TELUS International often pay an hourly rate, which can range from $9 to $15 per hour, depending on the project's complexity, the worker's location, and experience.

Location-Based Earnings

Earnings can vary based on a worker's location due to factors such as currency exchange rates and local living costs. For example, a data annotator in the United States might earn an average of $600 to $1,000 per month working part-time, while a data labeler in India could earn approximately INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 per month for similar work. Keep in mind that these are just rough estimates, and individual earnings will depend on factors like work availability, hours dedicated to tasks, and efficiency.

Bonuses and Incentives

Some platforms offer bonuses and incentives to encourage higher-quality work or reward consistent accuracy. For example, a platform may offer a bonus for completing a certain number of tasks with a high accuracy rate or for maintaining a strong performance over time.

Maximizing Earnings

To maximize your earnings as a data labeler, consider the following strategies:

  • Focus on accuracy: High-quality work can lead to better-paying tasks and a positive reputation on the platform.
  • Improve efficiency: Developing efficient workflows and mastering relevant tools can help you complete tasks faster, increasing your hourly earnings.
  • Diversify your tasks: Participating in a variety of tasks can help you maintain a steady workload and avoid reliance on a single project or platform.
  • Stay informed: Regularly check for new tasks, projects, and opportunities to expand your skillset and increase your earning potential.

Pros and Cons of Data Labeling Jobs

Data labeling jobs come with both benefits and drawbacks:


  • Flexibility: Data labelers often have the freedom to choose when and where they work.
  • Remote work opportunities: Most data annotation jobs can be done from the comfort of your home.
  • No experience required: Data labeling tasks typically don't require prior experience, making them accessible to a broad audience.


  • Inconsistent work availability: The volume of tasks can fluctuate, making it difficult to predict earnings.
  • Potential for repetitive tasks: Data labeling jobs can sometimes involve monotonous tasks that require sustained focus.
  • Lower pay compared to other HITL jobs: Data labeling jobs may offer lower compensation than more specialized HITL roles.

Data Labeling Tools

Tools within crowdsourcing companies

Crowdsourcing companies like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Appen, Telus International, and Clickworker often provide their own proprietary tools or integrate third-party tools into their platforms to facilitate data labeling tasks. These tools are tailored to specific types of data and annotation requirements, such as image, text, audio, or video annotation.

The tools provided by crowdsourcing companies usually include features like:

  • Task management: Assigning tasks to workers, tracking progress, and managing workload.
  • Quality assurance: Implementing validation systems, allowing for review and feedback, and monitoring worker performance.
  • Collaboration: Enabling multiple workers to contribute to the same project, share annotations, and communicate effectively.
  • Export and integration: Allowing for easy export of labeled data in various formats and integration with machine learning frameworks.

By using these tools, crowdsourcing companies can ensure that data annotators have the necessary resources to perform their tasks efficiently and accurately. In some cases, workers may need to familiarize themselves with multiple tools if they participate in different projects or work across various platforms.

Tools in the market

There are several popular data labeling tools that data labelers use to perform their work. These tools cater to different types of data, such as images, text, audio, or video. Some popular data labeling tools in the market include:

  • Labelbox: Labelbox is a widely used data labeling platform that supports image, video, and text annotation. It offers various annotation types, such as bounding boxes, polygons, and semantic segmentation. Labelbox also has features like collaboration, quality assurance, and automation to streamline the labeling process.
  • RectLabel: RectLabel is an image annotation tool specifically designed for Mac users. It supports bounding box annotations and automatically generates object masks using machine learning. RectLabel also allows users to import and export annotations in various formats, such as COCO, PASCAL VOC, and Create ML.
  • VGG Image Annotator (VIA): Developed by the Visual Geometry Group at the University of Oxford, VGG Image Annotator is an open-source tool for image annotation. It supports various annotation shapes, such as rectangles, circles, ellipses, and polygons. VIA is a browser-based tool, making it easily accessible without the need to install software.
  • Prodigy: Prodigy is a data labeling tool focusing on text and image annotation for tasks like named entity recognition, text classification, and image segmentation. It is designed for use in active learning, allowing labelers to provide real-time feedback to machine learning models, improving their performance iteratively.

These tools vary in their capabilities, user interface, and learning curve, so data labelers may choose the tool that best suits their specific needs and the requirements of the data labeling tasks they perform.

Tips for Success as a Data Annotator

To succeed as a data labeler, consider the following tips:

  • Improve accuracy and efficiency: Focus on delivering high-quality work to maintain a positive reputation and access better-paying tasks.
  • Develop a routine: Establish a consistent work schedule to maximize productivity and manage your time effectively.
  • Stay updated on platform changes and opportunities: Regularly check for new tasks and be aware of any platform updates or changes that could impact your work.


Data labeling jobs provide an accessible and flexible entry point into the world of HITL jobs, offering remote work opportunities for those with little or no experience. By understanding the roles and responsibilities of data labelers, the skills required, and the various platforms available, you can make an informed decision about whether this career path aligns with your goals and interests.

With the continued growth of AI and ML technologies, data labeling remains a critical aspect of these industries. This presents ongoing opportunities for dedicated individuals seeking to contribute to the development of such cutting-edge technologies.