Accounting Clerks: Taking the First Step in an Accounting Career

An accounting clerk handles specific financial recordkeeping duties within a business, for a government agency, or for an individual. The job responsibilities vary greatly within this position and often depend upon the size of the business.

The duties of the accounting clerk will revolve around the function of updating and maintaining accounting records.

Accounting clerks within a large corporation may handle very specific areas such as processing time and expense reports within a particular department. In smaller companies, an accounting clerk will usually handle more responsibilities and more duties, perhaps maintaining all of the financial books within the company.

The duties of the accounting clerk will revolve around the function of updating and maintaining accounting records. They may also perform simple analytics within their areas of responsibility.

Educational and Skill Requirements

Accounting clerks are usually required to have high school degrees. The accounting clerk position is also an entry-level position for recent college graduates and this position is often the first stop to gain accounting experience when pursuing a career within the accounting industry. Although a college degree is not usually required, many businesses identify promotable job applicants by their education, experience, and any certifications or coursework in accounting.

As more companies turn to accounting software to keep financial records, accounting clerks need to possess computer skills. Specific computer skills that an accounting clerk should have that will help them in their careers are:




  • Standard accounting software programs: Some accounting clerks have found that specializing in particular programs has been helpful in their careers.



  • Spreadsheet programs: Software such as Microsoft Excel is widely used by accounting clerks and can provide a tool for calculations, charts, and presentation of data. Experience and knowledge of spreadsheet programs, as well as basic word processing and email skills are normally required.



  • Information systems: It is helpful for accounting clerks to have experience within various accounting information systems. Experience and use of one such system can transfer easily to another, similar system. Since many accounting clerks take on fairly specific duties, on-the-job training is often provided by a supervisor or coworker.
  • Career Paths

    Entering the accounting industry as an accounting clerk is often the best method for those not possessing a college degree to begin a career in accounting. Often, by doing well in these positions, employees are promoted to department head responsibilities.

    Employees looking for a position as an accounting clerk can look for positions within private businesses or government agencies. The wide variety of positions available in this field helps keep positions plentiful and the unemployment level in this field is low. Job titles may include:




  • Accounts payable clerk



  • Bookkeeping clerk



  • Payroll clerk



  • Accounts receivable clerk



  • Audit clerk
  • Those looking for part-time employment in the field of accounting can consider clerk positions as nearly 25% of accounting clerks are employed part time.

    Job Outlook

    The number of jobs for accounting clerks is expected to be average according to the Department of Labor. The annual salary for bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks was $32,780 in 2007 according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top employers include accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping services, and payroll services, along with management and government positions.

    If you're considering a start in the accounting industry, an accounting clerk position may be the first step you take in this career field.