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
Part-time and temporary positions are common.
Nature of the 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. Whereas some clerks
spend their days filing or keyboarding, others enter data at a
computer terminal. They also can be called on to 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 perform. Although both
may sort checks, keep payroll records, take inventory, and access
information, clerks also perform duties unique to their employer,
such as organizing medications, making transparencies for a presentation,
or filling orders received by fax machine.
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.
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 16 percent of clerks work part time. Many clerks
also work in temporary positions.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Although most office clerk jobs are entry-level administrative
support 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
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 are able to 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.
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
General office clerks held about 3.1 million jobs in 2004. Most
are employed in relatively small businesses. Although they work
in every sector of the economy, about 46 percent worked in local
government; health care and social assistance; administrative
and support services; finance and insurance; or professional,
scientific, and technical services industries.
Employment growth and high replacement needs in this large occupation
will result in numerous job openings for general office clerks.
In addition to those for full-time jobs, many job openings are
expected for part-time and temporary general office clerks. Prospects
should be best for those who have knowledge of basic computer
applications and office machinery—such as fax machines, telephone
systems, and scanners—and good writing and communication skills.
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
Employment of general office clerks is expected to grow more
slowly than average for all occupations through the year 2014.
The employment outlook for these workers will be affected by the
increasing use of technology, expanding office automation, and
the consolidation of administrative support tasks. Automation
has led to productivity gains, allowing a wide variety of duties
to be performed by fewer office workers. However, automation also
has led to a consolidation of administrative support staffs and
a diversification of job responsibilities. This consolidation
increases the demand for general office clerks because they perform
a variety of administrative support tasks. It will become increasingly
common within small businesses to find a single general office
clerk in charge of all administrative support work.
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.
Median annual earnings of general office clerks were $22,770
in May 2004; the middle 50 percent earned between $18,090 and
$28,950 annually. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,530,
and the highest 10 percent earned more than $35,810. Median annual
salaries in the industries employing the largest numbers of general
office clerks in May 2004 were:
Elementary and secondary schools
Colleges, universities, and professional
The duties of general office clerks can include a combination
of bookkeeping, keyboarding, office machine operation, and filing.
Other office and administrative support workers who perform similar
duties include bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks; communications
equipment operators; customer service representatives; data entry
and information processing workers; order clerks; receptionists
and information clerks; secretaries and administrative assistants;
stock clerks and order fillers; and tellers. Nonclerical entry-level
workers include cashiers; counter and rental clerks; and food
and beverage serving and related workers.
Sources of Additional Information
State employment service offices and agencies can provide information
about job openings for general office clerks.
For information related to administrative occupations, including
educational programs and certified designations, contact:
International Association of Administrative Professionals,
10502 NW. Ambassador Dr., P.O. Box 20404, Kansas City, MO 64195-0404.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2006-07 Edition