Education and Training: High school or associate degree
Average Salary: $33,450 annually
Job Outlook Good
Any organization that deals with money has to keep records of where it came from and where it went. Accounting clerks are the people tasked to keep this financial information. They deal with arithmetic computations with the use of computers to analyze and record financial data.
Depending on the company’s size, an accounting clerk may have different tasks. For small organizations, they are expected to maintain books for the whole company. They make trial balances and simple financial statements, post credits and debits, and create reports for managers and supervisors. They may also be required to verify the details of documents such as billings and receipts, plus coordinate with the appropriate parties for reconciliation with errors. Accounting assistants are also required to prepare invoices, checks, and deposit slips. Finally, they may be assigned to track overdue accounts and handle payroll and purchasing.
On the other hand, accounting clerks handle specialized accounts in big corporations. In fact, they may have different job titles — accounts receivable clerk, accounts payable clerk, auditing clerk, and so on — that reflect the type of accountancy work that they do.
Apart from the size of the company, an accounting clerk’s work may also vary based on his/her level of experience. An entry-level accounting clerk totals the accounts, posts transaction details, and calculates interests and other monthly charges. He/she may also be asked to monitor loans, ensuring that monthly amortizations are up to date.
An accounting clerk of a more advanced level may reconcile and balance billing vouchers. He/she may also be assigned to ensure the accuracy and completeness of financial records. Furthermore, advanced accounting clerks may post transactions in the system and update them as needed. They may also do auditing work and reconcile computer-generated reports with manually maintained journals.
Education and Training Requirements
An accounting clerk, at the minimum, needs to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED). However, employment opportunities and chances for advancement may increase for those with an associate degree in business or accounting. In fact, some even pursue a bachelor’s degree so they can move up faster to more senior positions.
A lot of employers are looking for applicants with some work experience and related studies in accounting. In addition, some are looking for candidates with formal training or some experience in using specialized accounting systems. A good tip would be to choose business or accounting-related electives while in secondary school. Also, do well in Math and in English as these are the two subjects that would help you the most. An accounting clerk position involves a lot of computations and data crunching, as well as constant communication with external and internal parties.
In taking an associate degree, you would learn about accounting basics, computerized accounting systems, and business communication. It would also be to your advantage if you participate in an on-the-job training program that would expose you to a real-world office environment.
Getting the Job
As previously mentioned, most accounting clerks possess a high school diploma. But if you’re an aspiring accounting clerk, you ought to differentiate yourself from the pack so as to make employers notice you. You can do this by taking further studies, such as an associate degree or even just a short night class to learn the latest computerized accounting programs. While without a job, you can still get the experience that recruiters are searching for by volunteering your bookkeeping services to a non-profit organization such as your local church.
When seeking a job, it is a good idea to coordinate with the placement office of your school as well as your personal network to inform them that you’re job hunting. You can also surf the web for available positions.
If you’ve successfully received an interview schedule, prepare for it. Do your research about the company. Come interview day, project yourself as a professional with sharp analytical and communication skills. Employers are searching for those who are detail-oriented, organized, and analytical. Knowledge of computer applications and familiarity with accounting software are definitely a plus.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting clerk openings will increase at a rate of 10% from 2008 to 2018, which is more or less the same for other professions. The 2008 financial crisis has caused companies to open more jobs to improve the transparency of the financial sector. As the US economy recuperates and grows, this simply means a greater demand for accounting clerks due to the increasing number of financial transactions that must be handled by companies.
However, improvements in office automation and advancements in accounting programs curb the demand for accounting clerks in a way. Now, more complex transactions can be done by a few people. Also, better document-scanning processes make it easier to handle financial information.
In terms of career progression, an accounting clerk can be promoted if he/she possesses the right training and experience. Because of this, a lot of accounting clerks supplement their years of experience on the job with post-secondary studies. This would increase their chances of advancing to the next job grade. From a clerking level position as accounting clerks, they may eventually move on to a professional level position, such as a tax auditor or a cost accountant.
Working Conditions and Environment
The work of an accounting clerk typically takes place in an office environment. Much of his/her time is spent working in front of a computer.
Majority of accounting clerks follow the standard 40-hour work week. However, some may do overtime work on weekdays and weekend nights, especially during busy periods like the end of the fiscal period, audit time, and tax season. Also, some may find themselves working more at certain times of the year, particularly if their employer has a seasonal workload (i.e. resorts, hotels, malls, etc.).
Salary and Benefits
The range of the salary of accounting clerks is between $21,280 and $50,450, with the median being $33,450 per year.
The compensation of accounting clerks grows with experience as they get more trained while on the job and hone their skills by working with a variety of clients and supervisors. An accounting clerk with one to four years of work experience makes $28,068 to $36,635 yearly, while those who possess 20 years or more of experience are earning $31,261 to $41,665.
Apart from experience, industry can also be a factor that determines your salary. It has been found that accounting clerks who are doing tax preparation, accounting, and payroll services receive salaries close to the median income at $16.40 per hour. On the other hand, the highest-paid accounting clerks belong to the postal sector and they’re making approximately $56,430 yearly or $27.13 per hour. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to get into this industry as it only contributes 0.05% to the total number of accounting clerk jobs in the United States.
An accounting clerk typically receives standard benefits like sick pay, vacation pay, retirement plan, life insurance, and health insurance. Additional benefits such as a company car and an expense account come with higher level positions.
Where to Go for More Information
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
6001 Montrose Rd., Ste. 500
Rockville, MD 20852
National Society of Accountants
1010 N. Fairfax St.
Alexandria, VA 22308