Occupation Profile for Office Clerks

Perform duties too varied and diverse to be classified in any specific office clerical occupation, requiring limited knowledge of office management systems and procedures. Clerical duties may be assigned in accordance with the office procedures of individual establishments and may include a combination of answering telephones, bookkeeping, typing or word processing, stenography, office machine operation, and filing.

 
 

Significant Points

  • Employment growth and high replacement needs in this large occupation will result in numerous job openings.
  • Prospects should be best for those with knowledge of basic computer applications and office machinery as well as good communication skills.
  • Part-time and temporary positions are common.

 

 
 
Overview
$23,710.00 Median Annual Wage 99,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
5.5 Average Unemployment Percentage 36.0 Percentage That Completed High School
3,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 45.3 Percentage That Had Some College
3,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 18.7 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Accounting Clerk
Administration Clerk
Administrative Assistant
Administrative Clerk
Administrative Office Assistant
Administrative Support Specialist
Administrative Technician
Admissions Evaluator
Agent-Licensing Clerk
Animal Hospital Clerk
Animal Shelter Clerk
Appointment Scheduler
Assistant, Clerical
Assistant, Dentist, Clerical
Assistant, Field
Assistant, Medical Office
Assistant, Office
Attendance Clerk
Auction Assistant
Blood Donor Unit Assistant
Board Attendant
Bookkeeper
Broadcast Checker
Calendar Control Clerk, Blood Bank
Car Distributor
Career Guidance Technician
Chart Clerk
Charter
Circulation Clerk
Clerical Aide
Clerical Office Worker
Clerk
Clerk Typist
Clerk, Telegraph Service
Code and Test Clerk
Congressional District Aide
Contract Clerk, Automobile
Control Clerk, Auditing
Copyright Expert
Court Clerk
Credit Card Clerk
Credit Card Control Clerk
Credit Clerk, Blood Bank
Customer Service Representative
Cutter and Paster, Press Clippings
Data Entry Clerk
Data Examination Clerk
Desk Clerk
Diet Clerk
Document Coordinator
Document Preparer, Microfilming
Document Processor
Election Clerk
Examination Proctor
Executive Assistant
Field Clerk
Field Representative
Fingerprint Clerk
Floor Clerk
Floor Space Allocator
Front Office Clerk
General Intern
General Office Clerk
General Office Worker
Government Clerk
Grading Clerk
Greige Goods Marker
Helper, Office, Answering Phones, Filing, Typing
History Card Clerk
Identification Clerk
Insurance Clerk
Laboratory Clerk
Laundry Clerk
Loan Assistant
Lost and Found Clerk
Lost Charge Card Clerk
Map Clerk
Marketing Clerk
Media Clerk
Medical Office Worker
Melter Clerk
News Assistant
Office Aide
Office Assistant
Office Automation Clerk
Office Clerk
Office Coordinator
Office Employee
Office Helper
Office Helper Clerical
Office Manager
Office Services Specialist
Office Worker
Order Caller
Police Aide
Police Clerk
Police Records Clerk
Principal Clerk
Prize Coordinator
Process Server
Program Support Clerk
Proof Machine Operator
Property Assessment Monitor
Property Clerk
Property Coordinator
Purchasing Clerk
Radio Message Router
Reader
Real Estate Assistant
Real Estate Clerk
Receptionist
Reinsurance Clerk
Returned Telephone Equipment Appraiser
Router
Secretary
Sorter
Stubber
Test Technician
Throw-Out Clerk
Town Clerk
Trace Clerk
Trade Clerk
Traffic Clerk
Train Clerk
Trip Follower
Underwriting Clerk
Unit Clerk
Utility Worker
Ward Clerk
Weather Clerk
Wrong Address Clerk
Yard Clerk

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.

Office clerks often need to know how to use word processing and other business software and office equipment. Experience working in an office is helpful, but office clerks also learn skills on the job.

Education and training. Although most office clerk jobs are entry-level positions, employers may prefer or require previous office or business experience. Employers usually require a high school diploma or equivalent, and some require basic computer skills, including familiarity with word processing software, as well as other general office skills.

Training for this occupation is available through business education programs offered in high schools, community and junior colleges, and postsecondary vocational schools. Courses in office practices, word processing, and other computer applications are particularly helpful.

Other qualifications. Because general office clerks usually work with other office staff, they should be cooperative and able to work as part of a team. Employers prefer individuals who can perform a variety of tasks and satisfy the needs of the many departments within a company. In addition, applicants should have good communication skills, be detail oriented, and adaptable.

Advancement. General office clerks who exhibit strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills may be promoted to supervisory positions. Others may move into different, more senior administrative jobs, such as receptionist, secretary, or administrative assistant. After gaining some work experience or specialized skills, many workers transfer to jobs with higher pay or greater advancement potential. Advancement to professional occupations within an organization normally requires additional formal education, such as a college degree.

Nature of Work

Rather than performing a single specialized task, general office clerks have responsibilities that often change daily with the needs of the specific job and the employer. Some clerks spend their days filing or keyboarding. Others enter data at a computer terminal. They also operate photocopiers, fax machines, and other office equipment; prepare mailings; proofread documents; and answer telephones and deliver messages.

The specific duties assigned to a clerk vary significantly, depending on the type of office in which he or she works. An office clerk in a doctor’s office, for example, would not perform the same tasks that a clerk in a large financial institution or in the office of an auto parts wholesaler would. Although all clerks may sort checks, keep payroll records, take inventory, and access information, they also perform duties unique to their employer, such as organizing medications in a doctor’s office, preparing materials for presentations in a corporate office, or filling orders received by fax machine for a wholesaler.

Clerks’ duties also vary by level of experience. Whereas inexperienced employees make photocopies, stuff envelopes, or record inquiries, experienced clerks usually are given additional responsibilities. For example, they may maintain financial or other records, set up spreadsheets, verify statistical reports for accuracy and completeness, handle and adjust customer complaints, work with vendors, make travel arrangements, take inventory of equipment and supplies, answer questions on departmental services and functions, or help prepare invoices or budgetary requests. Senior office clerks may be expected to monitor and direct the work of lower level clerks.

Work environment. For the most part, general office clerks work in comfortable office settings. Those on full-time schedules usually work a standard 40-hour week; however, some work shifts or overtime during busy periods. About 26 percent of clerks work part time in 2006. Many clerks also work in temporary positions.

Related Occupations

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

Median annual earnings of general office clerks were $23,710 in May 2006; the middle 50 percent earned between $18,640 and $30,240 annually. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,600. Median annual salaries in the industries employing the largest numbers of general office clerks in May 2006 were:

Local government $26,590
General medical and surgical hospitals 26,050
Elementary and secondary schools 24,230
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 23,980
Employment services 21,890

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:

  • Office clerks, general
  • Job Outlook

    Employment growth and high replacement needs in this large occupation is expected to result in numerous job openings for general office clerks.

    Employment change. Employment of general office clerks is expected to grow 13 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The employment outlook for these workers will continue to be affected by the increasing use of technology, expanding office automation, and the consolidation of administrative support tasks. These factors have led to a consolidation of administrative support staffs and a diversification of job responsibilities. However, this consolidation will increase the demand for general office clerks because they perform a variety of administrative support tasks, as opposed to clerks with very specific functions. It will become increasingly common within businesses, especially those smaller in size, to find only general office clerks in charge of all administrative support work.

    Job prospects. Many job openings for general office clerks are expected to be for full-time jobs; there will also be a demand for part-time and temporary positions. Prospects should be best for those who have good writing and communication skills and knowledge of basic computer applications and office machinery—such as fax machines, telephone systems, and scanners. As general administrative support duties continue to be consolidated, employers will increasingly seek well-rounded individuals with highly developed communication skills and the ability to perform multiple tasks.

    Job opportunities may vary from year to year because the strength of the economy affects demand for general office clerks. Companies tend to employ more workers when the economy is strong. Industries least likely to be affected by economic fluctuations tend to be the most stable places for employment.

    Employment

    General office clerks held about 3.2 million jobs in 2006. Most are employed in relatively small businesses. Although they work in every sector of the economy, about 43 percent worked in local government, health care and social assistance, administrative and support services, finance and insurance, or professional, scientific, and technical services industries.

    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 — Train other staff members to perform work activities, such as using computer applications.
    • Core — Compute, record, and proofread data and other information, such as records or reports.
    • Supplemental — Prepare meeting agendas, attend meetings, and record and transcribe minutes.
    • Core — Maintain and update filing, inventory, mailing, and database systems, either manually or using a computer.
    • Supplemental — Troubleshoot problems involving office equipment, such as computer hardware and software.
    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.
    Related College Curriculum
     
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