Employment is expected to decline through the year 2014.
The amount of information generated by organizations continues
to grow rapidly. File clerks classify, store, retrieve, and
update this information. In many small offices, they often
have additional responsibilities, such as entering data, performing
word processing, sorting mail, and operating copying or fax
machines. File clerks are employed across the Nation by organizations
of all types.
File clerks, also called record, information, or record center
clerks, examine incoming material and code it numerically,
alphabetically, or by subject matter. They then store paper
forms, letters, receipts, or reports or enter necessary information
into other storage devices. Some clerks operate mechanized
files that rotate to bring the needed records to them; others
convert documents to film that is then stored on microforms,
such as microfilm or microfiche. A growing number of file
clerks use imaging systems that scan paper files or film and
store the material on computers.
In order for records to be useful, they must be up to date
and accurate. File clerks ensure that new information is added
to files in a timely manner and may discard outdated file
materials or transfer them to inactive storage. Clerks also
check files at regular intervals to make sure that all items
are correctly sequenced and placed. When records cannot be
found, file clerks attempt to locate the missing material.
As an organizationís needs for information change, file clerks
implement changes to the filing system.
When records are requested, file clerks locate them and give
them to the person requesting them. A record may be a sheet
of paper stored in a file cabinet or an image on microform.
In the former case, the clerk retrieves the document manually
and hands or forwards it to the requester. In the latter case,
the clerk retrieves the microform and displays it on a microform
reader. If necessary, file clerks make copies of records and
distribute them. In addition, they keep track of materials
removed from the files, to ensure that borrowed files are
Increasingly, file clerks are using computerized filing and
retrieval systems that have a variety of storage devices,
such as a mainframe computer, CD-ROM, or floppy disk. To retrieve
a document in these systems, the clerk enters the documentís
identification code, obtains the location of the document,
and gets the document for the patron. Accessing files in a
computer database is much quicker than locating and physically
retrieving paper files. Still, even when files are stored
electronically, backup paper or electronic copies usually
are also kept.
File clerks usually work in areas that are clean, well lit,
and relatively quiet. The work is not overly strenuous but
may involve a lot of standing, walking, reaching, pulling,
and bending, depending on the method used to retrieve files.
Prolonged exposure to computer screens may lead to eyestrain
for the many file clerks who work with computers.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma
or its equivalent or a mix of education and related experience.
File clerks must be able to work with others since part of
the job may consist of helping fellow workers. These workers
must be alert, accurate, and able to make quick decisions.
Also, willingness to do routine and detailed work is important.
Most new employees are trained on the job under close supervision
of more experienced employees. Proficiency with desktop computer
software is becoming increasingly important as more files
are now being stored electronically. These workers can advance
to more senior clerical office positions such as receptionist
or bookkeeping clerk.
File clerks held about 255,000 jobs in 2004. Although file
clerk jobs are found in nearly every sector of the economy,
more than 90 percent of these workers are employed in service-providing
industries, including government. Healthcare establishments
employed around 1 out of every 4 file clerks. About 3 out
of every 10 file clerks worked part time in 2004.
Employment of file clerks is expected to decline through
the year 2014 largely due to productivity gains stemming from
office automation and the consolidation of clerical jobs.
Most files are stored digitally and can be retrieved electronically,
reducing the demand for file clerks. Nonetheless, there will
be some job opportunities for file clerks as a large number
of workers will be needed to replace workers who leave the
occupation each year. Job turnover among file clerks reflects
the lack of formal training requirements, limited advancement
potential, and relatively low pay. Demand for file clerks
stems from the need for these workers to record and retrieve
information in organizations across the economy
Jobseekers who have typing and other secretarial skills and
who are familiar with a wide range of office machines, especially
personal computers, should have the best job opportunities.
File clerks should find opportunities for temporary or part-time
work, especially during peak business periods.
Median hourly earnings of file clerks in May 2004 were $10.11.
The middle 50 percent earned between $8.22 and $12.59. The
lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.97, and the highest
10 percent earned more than $15.72. Median hourly earnings
in the industries employing the largest number of file clerks
in May 2004 are shown below.
|General medical and surgical hospitals
|Offices of physicians
File clerks classify and retrieve files. Other workers who
perform similar duties include receptionists and information
clerks and stock clerks and order fillers.
|Sources of Additional Information
State employment service offices and agencies can provide
information about job openings for file clerks.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition