Occupation Profile for File Clerks

File correspondence, cards, invoices, receipts, and other records in alphabetical or numerical order or according to the filing system used. Locate and remove material from file when requested.


Significant Points

  • About 1 out of 4 file clerks work part time.
  • A high school diploma or its equivalent is the most common educational requirement.
  • Employment is expected to decline through the year 2016.


$22,090.00 Median Annual Wage 6,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
5.5 Average Unemployment Percentage 36.4 Percentage That Completed High School
234,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 43.3 Percentage That Had Some College
137,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 20.3 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Administrative Assistant
Administrative Support Technician
Admissions Clerk
Blueprint Clerk
Brand Recorder
Card Filer
Claims Clerk
Classification Clerk
Computer Aide
Computer Tape Librarian
Control Clerk
Credit Card Clerk
Cut File Clerk
Cut Filer
Death Surveys Coder
Deputy Clerk
Document Clerk
Document Coordinator
Documentation Specialist
Enrollment Clerk
Enrollment Specialist
File Clerk
File Keeper
Finance Clerk
Fingerprint Clerk
History Card Clerk
Human Resources Assistant (HR Assistant)
Identifications Clerk
Imaging Clerk
Import Export Clerk
Index Clerk
Information Clerk
Intelligence Clerk
Invoice Coder
Kardex Clerk
Librarian, Computer Tape
Librarian, Morgue
Line Assigner
Manufacturing Clerk
Map Clerk
Medical Records Clerk
Medical Records Coder
Medical Records File Clerk
Morgue Keeper
Office Assistant
Office Specialist
Police Records Clerk
Pre Coder
Record Clerk
Record Clerk, Filing
Record Keeper
Records Clerk
Records Custodian
Records Manager
Records Specialist
Support Technician
Tape Librarian

  • These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include funeral directors, electricians, forest and conservation technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

File clerks must be alert, accurate, and able to work with others. Most train on the job.

Education and training. Most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma or a GED or a mix of education and related experience. Most new employees are trained on the job under close supervision of more experienced employees.

Other qualifications. File clerks must be able to work with others since part of the job is helping fellow workers. Clerks must be alert, accurate, and attentive while performing repetitive tasks. Willingness to do routine and detailed work is also important. Proficiency with desktop computer software is becoming increasingly important as more files are being stored electronically.

Advancement. File clerks can advance to more senior clerical office positions such as receptionist or bookkeeping clerk.

Nature of Work

The amount of information generated by organizations continues to grow rapidly. File clerks classify, store, retrieve, and update this information. In many small offices, they often have additional responsibilities, such as entering data, performing word processing, sorting mail, and operating copying or fax machines.

File clerks, also called record, information, or record center clerks, examine incoming material and code it numerically, alphabetically, or by subject matter. Paper forms, letters, receipts, or reports are stored in files while necessary information may be entered, often electronically, into other storage devices. Some clerks operate mechanized files that rotate to bring the needed records to them; others convert documents to film that is then stored on microfilm or microfiche. A growing number of file clerks use imaging systems that scan paper files or film and store the material on computers.

In order for records to be useful, they must be up to date and accurate and readily available. File clerks ensure that new information is added to files in a timely manner and discard outdated materials or transfer them to inactive storage. Clerks also check files at regular intervals to make sure that all items are correctly sequenced and placed. When records cannot be found, file clerks attempt to locate them. As an organization’s needs for information change, file clerks implement changes to the filing system.

When records are requested, file clerks locate them and give them to the person requesting them. A record may be a sheet of paper stored in a file cabinet or an image on microform. In the former case, the clerk retrieves the document manually. In the latter case, the clerk retrieves the microform and displays it on a microform reader. If necessary, file clerks make copies of records and distribute them. In addition, they keep track of materials removed from the files to ensure that borrowed files are returned.

Increasingly, file clerks use computerized filing and retrieval systems that have a variety of storage devices, such as a mainframe computer, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM. To retrieve a document in these systems, the clerk enters the document’s identification code, obtains the location of the document, and gets the document. Accessing files in a computer database is much quicker than locating and physically retrieving paper files. Still, even when files are stored electronically, backup paper or electronic copies usually are also kept.

Work environment. File clerks usually work in areas that are clean, well lit, and relatively quiet. The work is not overly strenuous but may involve a lot of standing, walking, reaching, pulling, and bending, depending on the method used to retrieve files. Prolonged exposure to computer screens may lead to eyestrain for the many file clerks who work with computers.

Related Occupations

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

Median hourly earnings of file clerks were $10.62 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.64 and $13.31. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.27, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $16.71. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest number of file clerks in May 2006 are shown below:

Local government $12.18
Legal services 11.08
General medical and surgical hospitals 11.02
Employment services 10.19
Offices of physicians 9.50

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:

  • File clerks
  • Job Outlook

    Rapid declines in employment are expected through 2016. Job prospects should be best for jobseekers who have general office skills and who are familiar with personal computers and other office machines.

    Employment change. Employment of file clerks is expected to decline rapidly by 41 percent between 2006 and 2016, largely due to productivity gains from office automation and the consolidation of clerical jobs. Most files are stored digitally and can be retrieved electronically, reducing the demand for file clerks.

    Job prospects. There will be job openings for file clerks because a large number of workers will be needed to replace the workers who leave the occupation each year. The high number of separations from file clerk jobs reflects the lack of formal training requirements, limited advancement potential, and relatively low pay. Organizations across the economy will continue to need to hire file clerks to record and retrieve information. File clerks should find opportunities for temporary or part-time work, especially during peak business periods.

    Jobseekers who have typing and other secretarial skills and who are familiar with a wide range of office machines, especially personal computers, should have the best job opportunities.


    File clerks held about 234,000 jobs in 2006. Although file clerk jobs are found in nearly every sector of the economy, more than 90 percent of these workers are employed in service-providing industries, including government. Health care establishments employed around 3 out of every 10 file clerks. About 1 out of every 4 file clerks worked part time in 2006.

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Supplemental — Operate mechanized files that rotate to bring needed records to a particular location.
    • Core — Gather materials to be filed from departments and employees.
    • Supplemental — Design forms related to filing systems.
    • Core — Sort or classify information according to guidelines such as content, purpose, user criteria, or chronological, alphabetical, or numerical order.
    • Supplemental — Retrieve documents stored in microfilm or microfiche and place them in viewers for reading.
    • 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.
    Related College Curriculum
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