The large size of this occupation ensures plentiful job openings,
including many opportunities for temporary and part-time work;
those who can carry out a wider range of bookkeeping and accounting
activities will be in greater demand than specialized clerks.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are an organizationís
financial recordkeepers. They update and maintain one or more
accounting records, including those which tabulate expenditures,
receipts, accounts payable and receivable, and profit and
loss. They represent a wide range of skills and knowledge
from full-charge bookkeepers who can maintain an entire companyís
books to accounting clerks who handle specific accounts. All
of these clerks make numerous computations each day and increasingly
must be comfortable using computers to calculate and record
In small establishments, bookkeeping clerks handle
all financial transactions and recordkeeping. They record
all transactions, post debits and credits, produce financial
statements, and prepare reports and summaries for supervisors
and managers. Bookkeepers also prepare bank deposits by compiling
data from cashiers, verifying and balancing receipts, and
sending cash, checks, or other forms of payment to the bank.
They also may handle payroll, make purchases, prepare invoices,
and keep track of overdue accounts.
In large offices and accounting departments, accounting
clerks have more specialized tasks. Their titles, such
as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk, often
reflect the type of accounting they do. In addition, their
responsibilities vary by level of experience. Entry-level
accounting clerks post details of transactions, total accounts,
and compute interest charges. They also may monitor loans
and accounts to ensure that payments are up to date.
More advanced accounting clerks may total, balance, and reconcile
billing vouchers; ensure the completeness and accuracy of
data on accounts; and code documents according to company
procedures. These workers post transactions in journals and
on computer files and update the files when needed. Senior
clerks also review computer printouts against manually maintained
journals and make necessary corrections. They may review invoices
and statements to ensure that all the information appearing
on them is accurate and complete, and they may reconcile computer
reports with operating reports.
Auditing clerks verify records of transactions posted
by other workers. They check figures, postings, and documents
to ensure that they are correct, mathematically accurate,
and properly coded. They also correct or note errors for accountants
or other workers to adjust.
As organizations continue to computerize their financial
records, many bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
are using specialized accounting software on personal computers.
With manual posting to general ledgers becoming obsolete,
these clerks increasingly are posting charges to accounts
on computer spreadsheets and databases. They now enter information
from receipts or bills into computers, and the information
is then stored either electronically or as computer printouts
(or both). The widespread use of computers also has enabled
bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks to take on additional
responsibilities, such as payroll, procurement, and billing.
Many of these functions require these clerks to write letters,
make phone calls to customers or clients, and interact with
colleagues. Therefore, good communication skills are becoming
increasingly important in the occupation.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work in an office
environment. They may experience eye and muscle strain, backaches,
headaches, and repetitive motion injuries as a result of using
computers on a daily basis. Clerks may have to sit for extended
periods while reviewing detailed data.
Many bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work regular
business hours and a standard 40-hour week. A substantial
number work just part time. Full-time and part-time clerks
may work some evenings and weekends. Bookkeeping, accounting,
and auditing clerks may work longer hours to meet deadlines
at the end of the fiscal year, during tax time, or when monthly
or yearly accounting audits are performed. Those who work
in hotels, restaurants, and stores may put in overtime during
peak holiday and vacation seasons.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are required
to have a high school degree at a minimum. However, having
some college is increasingly important and an associate degree
in business or accounting is required for some positions.
Although a college degree is rarely required, graduates may
accept bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk positions
to get into a particular company or to enter the accounting
or finance field with the hope of eventually being promoted
to professional or managerial positions.
Experience in a related job and working in an office environment
also is recommended. Employers prefer workers who are computer-literate;
knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software is especially
Once hired, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
usually receive on-the-job training. Under the guidance of
a supervisor or other senior worker, new employees learn company
procedures. Some formal classroom training also may be necessary,
such as training in specific computer software. Bookkeeping,
accounting, and auditing clerks must be careful, orderly,
and detail-oriented in order to avoid making errors and to
recognize errors made by others. These workers also should
be discreet and trustworthy, because they frequently come
in contact with confidential material. In addition, all bookkeeping,
accounting, and auditing clerks should have a strong aptitude
Bookkeepers, particularly those who handle all the recordkeeping
for companies, may find it beneficial to become certified.
The Certified Bookkeeper designation, awarded by the American
Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, assures employers that
individuals have the skills and knowledge required to carry
out all the bookkeeping and accounting functions up through
the adjusted trial balance, including payroll functions. For
certification, candidates must have at least 2 years of bookkeeping
experience, pass three tests, and adhere to a code of ethics.
More than 100 colleges and universities offer a preparatory
course for certification and another 150 offer a course online.
The Universal Accounting Center offers the Professional Bookkeeper
designation. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
usually advance by taking on more duties in the same occupation
for higher pay or by transferring to a closely related occupation.
Most companies fill office and administrative support supervisory
and managerial positions by promoting individuals from within
their organizations, so clerks who acquire additional skills,
experience, and training improve their advancement opportunities.
With appropriate experience and education, some bookkeeping,
accounting, and auditing clerks may become accountants or
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks held more than
2 million jobs in 2004. They are found in all industries and
at all levels of government. Local government and the accounting,
tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services industry
are among the individual industries employing the largest
numbers of these clerks. A growing number work for employment
services firms, the result of an increase in outsourcing of
this occupation. About 1 out of 4 bookkeeping, accounting,
and auditing clerks worked part time in 2004.
Employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
is projected to grow more slowly than average for all occupations
through 2014. More job openings will stem from replacement
needs than from job growth. Each year, numerous jobs will
become available as these clerks transfer to other occupations
or leave the labor force. The large size of this occupation
ensures plentiful job openings, including many opportunities
for temporary and part-time work.
Although a growing economy will result in more financial
transactions and other activities that require these clerical
workers, the continuing spread of office automation will lift
worker productivity and contribute to the slower-than-average
increase in employment. In addition, organizations of all
sizes will continue to downsize and consolidate various recordkeeping
functions, thus reducing the demand for bookkeeping, accounting,
and auditing clerks. Furthermore, some work performed by these
workers will be outsourced to lower-wage foreign countries.
Those who can carry out a wider range of bookkeeping and accounting
activities will be in greater demand than specialized clerks.
Demand for full-charge bookkeepers is expected to increase,
because they are called upon to do much of the work of accountants,
as well as perform a wider variety of financial transactions,
from payroll to billing. Certified bookkeepers and those with
several years of accounting or bookkeeper experience will
have the best job prospects.
In May 2004, the median wage and salary annual earnings of
bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks were $28,570.
The middle half of the occupation earned between $22,960 and
$35,450. The top 10 percent of bookkeeping, accounting, and
auditing clerks more than $43,570, and the bottom 10 percent
earned less than $18,580.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work with financial
records. Other clerks who perform similar duties include bill
and account collectors; billing and posting clerks and machine
operators; brokerage clerks; credit authorizers, checkers,
and clerks; payroll and timekeeping clerks; procurement clerks;
|Sources of Additional Information
For information on the Certified Bookkeeper designation,
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, 6001 Montrose
Rd., Suite 500, Rockville, MD 20852. Internet:
For information on the Professional Bookkeeper designation,
- Universal Accounting Center, 5250 South Commerce Dr.,
Salt Lake City, UT 84107.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07