Occupation Profile for Billing, Posting, and Calculating Machine Operators

Operate machines that automatically perform mathematical processes, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, to calculate and record billing, accounting, statistical, and other numerical data. Duties include operating special billing machines to prepare statements, bills, and invoices, and operating bookkeeping machines to copy and post data, make computations, and compile records of transactions.

 
 

Significant Points

  • About 35 percent of these workers are employed in the health care industry.
  • Most jobs in this occupation require only a high school diploma; however, many employers prefer to hire workers who have completed some college courses or a degree.
  • Slower than average employment growth is expected as increased automation of billing services reduces the need for billing clerks.

 

 
 
Sample Job Titles
Accounting Clerk, Machine Operator
Accounting Machine Operator
Accounts Adjustable Clerk
Accounts Payable Associate
Accounts Payable Clerk
Accounts Payable Coordinator
Accounts Receivable Coordinater
Adding Machine Operator
Administrative Assistant
Audit Machine Operator
Billing Clerk
Bookkeeper
Bookkeeping and Billing Machine Operator
Bookkeeping Clerk, Machine
Bookkeeping Machine Operator
Calculator Operator
Check Writer
Comptometer Operator
Comptometrist
Cost Accounting Clerk
Credit Analyst
Electric Accounting Machine Operator (EAM Operator)
Invoice Machine Operator
Machine Accountant
Machine Biller
Machine Bookkeeper
NCR Operator (National Cash Register Operator)
Payroll Machine Operator
Post Tronic Machine Operator
Posting Machine Operator
Proof Machine Operator
Reconciliation Clerk
Reconciliation Machine Operator
Tray Checker

Training
  • These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, pharmacy technicians, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
  • These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate's or bachelor's degree could be needed.
  • Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience may be helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a teller might benefit from experience working directly with the public, but an inexperienced person could still learn to be a teller with little difficulty.
  • Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.

Billing clerks generally need at least a high school diploma, but many employers prefer workers who have completed some college courses.

Education and training. Most billing clerks need at least a high school diploma. However, many employers prefer to hire workers who have completed some college courses or a degree. Workers with an associate or bachelor’s degree are likely to start at higher salaries and advance more easily than those without degrees. Employers also seek workers who are comfortable using computers, especially billing software programs.

Billing clerks usually receive on-the-job training from their supervisor or some other senior worker. Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in the specific computer software used by the company. A number of community and career colleges offer certificate programs in medical billing. Courses typically cover basic biology, anatomy, and physiology in addition to training on coding and computer billing software.

Other qualifications. Workers must be careful, orderly, and detail oriented. They must be good at working with numbers to avoid making errors and to recognize errors made by others. Workers also should be discreet and trustworthy because they frequently come in contact with confidential material. Medical billers in particular need to understand and follow the regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which were enacted to maintain the confidentiality of patient medical records.

Advancement. Billing clerks usually advance by taking on more duties for higher pay or by transferring to a closely related occupation. Some become supervisors because most companies fill supervisory and managerial positions by promoting individuals from within the organization. Workers who acquire additional skills, experience, and training improve their advancement opportunities. With appropriate experience and education, some billing clerks may become accountants, human resource specialists, or buyers.

Nature of Work

Billing and posting clerks and machine operators, commonly called billing clerks, calculate charges, develop bills, and prepare them to be mailed to customers. By reviewing purchasing records and making or verifying calculations, they ensure that even the most complicated bills are accurate.

Billing clerks review hospital records, purchase orders, sales tickets, or charge slips to calculate the total amount due from a customer. They must take into account any discounts, special rates, or credit terms. A billing clerk for a trucking company, for example, often needs to consult a rate book to determine shipping costs. A hospital’s billing clerk may need to contact an insurance company to determine what items will be reimbursed. In accounting, law, consulting, and similar firms, billing clerks calculate client fees based on the time required to perform the service being purchased. They keep track of the accumulated hours spent on a job, the fees to charge, the type of job performed for a customer, and the percentage of work completed.

After billing clerks review all necessary information, they compute the charges, using calculators or computers. They then prepare itemized statements, bills, or invoices used for billing and recordkeeping purposes. In some organizations, the clerk might prepare a bill containing the amount due and the date and type of service; in others, the clerk might produce a more detailed invoice with codes for all goods and services provided. They might also list the items sold, the terms of credit, the date of shipment or of service, and a salesperson’s or doctor’s identification.

Computers and specialized billing software allow many clerks to calculate charges and prepare bills in one step. Computer packages prompt clerks to enter data from handwritten forms and to manipulate the necessary information on quantities, labor, and rates to be charged. Billing clerks verify the entry of information and check for errors before the computer prints the bill. After the bills are printed, billing clerks review them again for accuracy. Computer software also allows bills to be sent electronically if both the biller and the customer prefer not to use paper copies; this, coupled with the prevalence of electronic payment options, allows a completely paperless billing process. In offices that are not automated, billing machine operators produce the bill on a billing machine to send to the customer.

In addition to producing invoices, billing clerks may be asked to handle follow-up questions from customers and resolve any discrepancies or errors. Finally, all changes must be entered in the accounting records.

Work environment. Billing clerks typically are employed in an office environment, although a growing number—particularly medical billers—work at home. Most billing clerks work 40 hours per week during regular business hours, though about 16 percent work part time. Billing clerks use computers on a daily basis, so workers may have to sit for extended periods and also may experience eye and muscle strain, backaches, headaches, and repetitive motion injuries.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Median hourly earnings of billing and posting clerks and machine operators were $28,850 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $24,080 and $34,970. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $41,750.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Billing and posting clerks and machine operators
  • Job Outlook

    Employment of billing and posting clerks and machine operators is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2016. Despite slow growth, job prospects should be good as workers leave the occupation creating many job openings.

    Employment change. Employment of billing and posting clerks and machine operators is expected to grow by about 4 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Automated and electronic billing processes have greatly simplified billing and allow companies to send bills out faster without hiring additional workers. In addition, as the billing process becomes simplified, other workers, particularly accounting and bookkeeping clerks, are taking on the billing function. More billing clerks will be needed in medical billing, however, because medical bills are complicated and health care services are growing.

    Employment growth for billing clerks will occur in most health care related industries, but growth will be limited as more hospitals and physicians’ offices use contract billing companies. Contract billing companies generally have much more sophisticated technology and software, enabling each clerk to produce more bills, limiting the need for more clerks. In all industries, including health care, the billing function is becoming increasingly automated and invoices and statements are automatically generated upon delivery of the service or shipment of goods. Bills also are increasingly delivered electronically over the Internet, eliminating the production and mailing of paper bills.

    Job prospects. Although growth will be limited, many job openings will occur as workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. A relatively large number of workers leave jobs in this occupation and must be replaced, as is common among entry-level occupations that usually require only a high school diploma.

    Employment

    In 2006, billing and posting clerks and machine operators held about 542,000 jobs. Although all industries employ billing clerks, the health care industry employs the most, with over a third of all billing clerks. The wholesale and retail trade industries also employ a large number. Third-party billing companies—companies that provide billing services for other companies—are employing a growing number. Industries that provide this service are the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services industry and administrative and support services industry. These industries currently employ around 11 percent of this occupation, although a portion of these clerks do billing for their employers rather than for an outside client. Another 2 percent—mostly medical billers—were self-employed.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Supplemental — Compile, code, and verify requisition, production, statistical, mileage, and other reports which require specialized knowledge in selecting the totals used.
    • Supplemental — Compute monies due on personal and real property, inventories, redemption payments and other amounts, applying specialized knowledge of tax rates, formulas, interest rates, and other relevant information.
    • Supplemental — Clean machines, and replace ribbons, film, and tape.
    • Supplemental — Verify and post to ledgers purchase orders, reports of goods received, invoices, paid vouchers, and other information.
    • Core — Enter into machines all information needed for bill generation.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
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