What is an accounting clerk?
An accounting clerk is a foundational role within many organizations’ finance and accounting departments. As the frontline for numerous financial operations, they play a vital role in ensuring that financial records are accurate and transactions are processed appropriately. Their contributions are integral to the smooth functioning of an organization’s financial infrastructure, acting as the gatekeepers of financial accuracy.
Their value lies in their meticulous attention to detail, ensuring the integrity of an organization’s financial data. This accuracy is essential not only for internal decision-making but also for regulatory compliance, stakeholder trust, and the overall financial health of an enterprise.
Duties and responsibilities
Accounting clerks handle a variety of financial tasks. Primarily, they are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of financial records. This includes verifying and recording financial transactions, reconciling bank statements, and ensuring that records are kept up-to-date and free from discrepancies.
In many organizations, they may also handle tasks such as invoicing, processing payroll, and aiding in the preparation of financial statements or reports. Their role often requires them to liaise with other departments to gather and verify transactional data, ensuring that entries are accurate and reflect the real-world financial activities of the organization.
The work environment for an accounting clerk is typically an office setting. They are often positioned near other accounting or finance department members to facilitate collaboration. Given the digital nature of modern accounting, these professionals frequently work with computerized accounting software and databases and might spend significant amounts of time working on computers.
They must maintain organized workspaces, as they often manage sensitive and crucial financial data. Depending on the organization, the pace can range from steady to hectic, especially during particular financial periods such as month-end closings or tax season.
Typical work hours
Most accounting clerks work standard office hours, typically from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. However, the specific hours can vary based on the organization and its operational needs. Some overtime might be required during busy periods, like the end of the fiscal year or during tax preparations.
With the rise of remote work and flexible schedules in many industries, some clerks may have the option of non-traditional hours or even part-time arrangements, depending on their employer’s policies and requirements.
How to become an accounting clerk
In order to become an accounting clerk, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Complete education requirements
A high school diploma, or GED, is required to apply for accounting clerk positions. To increase your chances of being selected, consider continuing school at an accredited college or university to receive your bachelor’s degree. Choose a program like accounting, finance, or a business-related major. Some positions require a degree, so taking your education further than high school is always advised.
Step 2: Take online classes and get certified
This role may be considered an entry-level position, but getting certifications and taking online classes can be a good way to show you’re serious about your career and provide you with better knowledge in the field. Try one of these online classes from Udemy and Coursera to get started:
- Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis: Complete Training is an online option that covers all business accounting basics. You’ll learn how to analyze previous actions and help companies plan for the future. It also covers bookkeeping records, building balance sheets, and performing vertical and horizontal analysis.
- For training specific to bookkeeping, take the Accounting & Bookkeeping Masterclass – Beginner to Advanced course. It covers the rules of recording transactions, statement preparation, and other essential accounting adjustments.
- Take this in-depth Financial Accounting course to learn more about running a business. The course teaches about long-term assets, stocks, bonds, sales revenue, and inventory.
- Learn finance basics with the Introduction to Finance and Accounting Specialization course. The class covers how companies account for debt and equity securities investments, corporate decision-making, and accounting standards. Using homework and quizzes, you can test your knowledge throughout the course.
- Discover efficient ways to keep track of invoices with the course called Use AI Builder and Power Apps to Process Invoice Data. You’ll get all the information on automating invoice data and cutting down on errors and time-consuming tasks. You’ll spend an hour learning how to build an AI-building model to handle this task for your company.
Step 3: Find a job
Once you receive the necessary education and training, apply for jobs. Update your resume to show any certifications, completed coursework, and practical experience. Job openings are posted on online search engines and job boards. If you are interested in a specific company, you can also check their website’s jobs or careers page.
How much do accounting clerks make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much an accounting clerk makes, from company size to experience to education just to name a few. The top-paying places of employment and specific industries for accounting clerks are (shown in annual mean salary):
- Finance and Insurance – $46,910
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services – $46,640
- Wholesale Trade – $45,930
- Healthcare and Social Assistance – $41,100
- Retail Business – $37,710
The top-paying states for accounting clerks to work in are (shown in annual mean salary):
- Massachusetts – $53,340
- District of Columbia – $52,748
- Washington – $51,460
- California – $51,080
- Connecticut – $51,050
Types of accounting clerks
Accounting clerks work within accounting departments across many industries. Many corporations have internal accounting teams that handle finances. Those teams will have accounting clerks and assistants to work on the daily administrative tasks, reporting, and other projects.
Clients hire external firms to work on specific projects. If you get an accounting clerk job at a firm like this, you may have a variety of clients you assist with, and the job can vary quite a bit from project to project. Some firms are dedicated explicitly to taxes, and all the work involves helping individuals and companies file tax returns and make payments to the government.
Other firms specialize in audits, where they dive into financial records to ensure compliance with state and federal guidelines and help to streamline processes within the organization. Government accounting clerks assist accountants that help manage government money and ensure that taxpayer money is spent appropriately and not mishandled.
Accounting clerks are entry-level positions that are needed by all accounting teams. From forensic accounting to investment firms, clerks can learn more about the day-to-day operations and get hands-on experience in these roles. If you aren’t sure what type of accounting you want to do for your career, try working for a few different firms in the beginning to find the best fit.
Top skills for accounting clerks
To get a role as an accounting clerk, a high school diploma, or equivalent, is required. Additional schooling, like a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business, is preferred. They must be technically competent and familiar with accounting software, like QuickBooks or whichever program the company uses. Clerks should have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong mathematical skills. Understanding the laws applicable to accounting and finances will also assist in this role.
Accounting clerk career path
Accounting clerks, like assistants, handle much of the basic entry-level work in the accounting department. It’s great hands-on experience with reports, invoices, payables, and much more. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door and be the first to hear about advancement opportunities. Make connections and network with people in your office and let them know you’re interested in advancing.
There are plenty of paths you can take from this role. Work to become a staff accountant, an accounting manager, or even move to the administrative side of the business and handle operations. Consider getting certified as a CPA or one of the other accounting certificates to expand your knowledge base and give yourself the best chance to move up.
Similar job titles
Accounting clerk position trends and outlook
Technology has advanced so much that they have now developed software to complete tasks that your average bookkeeper used to do. Therefore, the industry needs fewer bookkeepers, resulting in jobs declining in the next ten years.
Despite the decline, hundreds of thousands of job openings related to accounting will still be available each year. Those job openings are a result of people leaving their job, changing careers, and those who are retiring. Obtaining certifications will help you retain your job and stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Employment projections for accounting clerks
Due to ongoing technological advancements, accounting clerks are on a downward trend. It’s predicted that there will be a decline of 5% in these jobs through 2031.
Accounting clerk career tips
Soft skills and traits for accounting clerks
Play brain games that help you practice your math skills and keep your mind sharp regarding numbers. Familiarize yourself with the confidentiality and financial regulations guidelines in your location. Understanding the state and federal guidelines will make you very beneficial to your future employer.
Commonly required skills and qualifications
Improve your computer and typing skills. Data entry is a common task for accounting clerks, and it helps to be quick and efficient when entering information. Become an expert at Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables. Try a free online course that teaches you tricks and hacks to utilize the tool in new ways.
Develop a professional network
Apply for short-term internships with accounting firms to gain experience and learn more about which type of accounting you are most interested in. This will help you start to build your skills and expertise.
Where the accounting clerk jobs are
- Robert Half
- Wells Fargo
- JPMorgan Chase & Co
- South Dakota
Top job sites
What skills does it take to be a good accounting clerk?
Accounting clerks should be organized and good with numbers and math. Strong knowledge of accounting software and Excel spreadsheets is essential as well. This position will provide you with experience working with clients, reporting financial information, and verifying data.
What are the most likely advancement opportunities for accounting clerks?
Once you have a job as an accounting clerk, you should work on increasing your education and training and become certified as a CPA or something similar. This will allow you to move to a staff accountant or accounting manager after a few years.
What does an accounting clerk do?
The primary job duty of an accounting clerk is assisting in managing a company’s financial records. It can include data entry, managing, and tracking invoices and payments. Depending on the type of accounting firm or team you’re working for, there might also be some specialized duties.
Is an accounting clerk a good career choice?
Accounting clerk positions are great entry-level jobs and provide some real-life experience that can help you advance your career. The hours are standard, and the stress levels are low, so you can have a healthy work-life balance.
How much experience is required to be promoted from an accounting clerk?
Accounting clerk positions are great for getting experience and additional training on the job. If you want to move up the corporate ladder, you can use this experience and what you’ve learned to apply for staff accountant and bookkeeper jobs. The time to gain the necessary experience depends on how many opportunities you are given in your role.
Is it stressful to be an accounting clerk?
Accounting positions all manage finances for a company. The more money you manage and are responsible for, the more stress you may face at your job. Accounting clerks are entry-level, so the stress level is minimal compared to other higher levels of the accounting team.
Is an accounting clerk higher than a bookkeeper?
Typically, bookkeepers rank higher than accounting clerks within an organization. That’s a typical career advancement path. Both positions help manage financial statements and records for an organization.
Are accounting clerks and accounting assistants the same?
There are many different names for those who work in the accounting departments. Each company may have slightly altered roles for assistants versus clerks, but most of the duties fall into an administrative role for the accounting department.
Do you need a bachelor’s degree to become an accounting clerk?
It’s best to have completed a bachelor’s degree before entering an accounting position, but not required for all positions. Some accounting clerk positions are available for people with a high school diploma.
What is the best way to start a career in accounting?
Once you have your education with a degree in accounting or finance, you should look for a job as an accounting clerk or assistant. These entry-level jobs will help you build up the experience on your resume and get some on-the-job training with accounting projects.