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Accounts Receivable Clerk Career Guide

What is an accounts receivable clerk?

An accounts receivable clerk is someone who makes sure a company gets paid for its services or products. Their main job is to handle incoming payments and remind customers to pay their bills on time. They help the organization keep its money flowing properly.

Duties and responsibilities

Accounts receivable clerks keep track of who needs to pay and who has already paid. They send out bills, keep an eye on payments coming in, and bug customers who are late on their payments. They also answer any questions customers might have about their bills. On top of that, they make sure all the payments are recorded correctly and that the financial records are up to date.

Work environment

These clerks usually work in an office, but these days, it’s also common to work from home. They spend a lot of time on computers managing payments and making sure everything adds up correctly. They also talk a lot with other people on the finance team and sometimes with customers too.

Typical work hours

Most of the time, accounts receivable clerks work typical office hours, from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Sometimes, they might need to work a bit extra, especially when it’s time to close the books at the end of the financial period.

How to become an accounts receivable clerk

Becoming an accounts receivable clerk isn’t too complicated, but it does involve a few steps. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

Step 1: Finish high school

First up, you’ll need at least a high school diploma. Pay extra attention to classes like math, accounting, and business, since they’ll give you a solid base to work from.

Step 2: Consider further education (it’s optional)

Some jobs might want you to have more school under your belt, like an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. This isn’t always needed, but it can help you understand the tricky parts of the job better.

Step 3: Dive into accounts receivable

Check out some online courses to get the lowdown on accounts receivable:

Step 4: Gain some real experience

Start working in entry-level jobs related to accounting or bookkeeping. This real-world experience is gold for learning how to manage invoices and customer payments.

Step 5: Get certified (if you want)

Not a must, but getting certifications like the Certified Accounts Receivable Specialist (CARS) or Certified Bookkeeper (CB) can really make your resume shine. These usually need some experience and passing a test.

Step 6: Brush up on necessary skills

Being good with accounting software and Excel is crucial. Also, being a strong communicator and staying organized will take you far in this job.

Step 7: Network and start applying

With all the right skills and education, start meeting people in the industry and look for job openings. Make sure your resume and cover letter show off your best qualities and any special certifications you’ve earned.

How much do accounts receivable clerks make?

The salary of an accounts receivable clerk can be influenced by geographic location, level of education, years of experience, the industry they work in, and the size of the employer. Bonuses or commission-based schemes may also contribute to their total income. Those with advanced degrees or certifications and substantial experience generally earn more. 

Highest paying industries

  • Postal Service: $58,770
  • Natural Gas Distribution: $55,140
  • Finance: $53,760
  • Government: $53,450
  • Insurance Carriers: $52,830

Highest paying states

  • District of Columbia: $54,375
  • Alaska: $54,300
  • Connecticut: $54,240
  • California: $54,220
  • Massachusetts: $53,800

Browse accounts receivable clerk salary data by market

Types of accounts receivable clerks

  • General accounts receivable clerk: This is your all-around player in the accounts receivable world. Their main job is to keep the money coming in smoothly and make sure all the records are correct.
  • Accounts receivable analyst: These clerks are like the detectives of the accounts receivable team. They dig into the details to see how well the company is collecting money. 
  • Medical accounts receivable clerk: Working in hospitals or clinics, these clerks deal with payments from patients and insurance companies. They need to know a lot about medical billing and insurance rules because it can get pretty complicated. 
  • Accounts receivable collections specialist: This type of clerk focuses on sorting out overdue payments. They need to be really good at negotiating and understanding the laws about collecting debts.

Top skills for accounts receivable clerks

  • Attention to detail: This job is all about the details. Whether it’s checking invoices are right or catching mistakes early, you’ve got to have an eagle eye. 
  • Organizational skills: When you’re juggling lots of invoices and customer info, being organized isn’t just nice—it’s necessary. You’ll need to keep track of who’s paid and who hasn’t and make sure everything’s up to date. 
  • Know your software: Whether it’s QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, or some other accounting software, being able to use these tools well is crucial. They help you manage payments, keep accurate records, and make smart reports that tell you what’s going on.
  • Understanding accounting principles: It’s important to know the rules of the game, which means understanding the basic principles of accounting. This knowledge helps make sure every transaction meets legal and professional standards, keeping your company’s finances on track.
  • Good communication: Talking clearly and listening well are key in this job. You’ll need to sort out any issues with payments by chatting with customers or coworkers, and good communication means you can solve problems faster and keep relationships strong.

Accounts receivable clerk career path

Start at the beginning 

Most people start off with an entry-level job right after high school or college. Having a degree in something like accounting or finance can be a plus, but it’s not always necessary. In these starting jobs, you’ll learn the ropes—everything from managing payments to keeping the books balanced and making sure financial records are neat and tidy.

Move up

Once you’ve got some experience, you could step up to become an accounts receivable specialist or analyst. These roles get a bit more complicated. You’ll handle tougher issues like sorting out billing mess-ups, analyzing accounts to see where money can be collected more efficiently, and tweaking the process to make sure money comes in smoothly.

Aim for the top

After proving you’ve got what it takes, you might aim for a leadership role like an accounts receivable supervisor or manager. These positions are all about leading a team, making sure everyone follows financial laws and rules, and managing the whole accounts receivable department.

Keep learning and growing 

To really stand out and speed up your career progress, getting certifications like the Certified Credit & Collections Specialist (CCCS) can be a big help. If you want to keep expanding your skills, you might even move into broader financial management roles down the line.

The job scene for accounts receivable clerks is changing, especially with new tech popping up everywhere. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Tech skills are a must: Nowadays, knowing your way around accounting software, managing data, and handling digital payments is super important. As companies go global, clerks who understand international payments and can deal with different currencies are in demand.

Employment projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks the number of jobs for accounts receivable clerks will drop by 5% by 2031. Why? Because machines and software are starting to do a lot of the work, like processing invoices and keeping track of payments. Plus, more companies are hiring overseas where it might be cheaper, which also cuts down on the number of jobs here.

Even though there are fewer jobs, people will still retire or switch careers, which means new openings will pop up. So, there’s still a chance to jump into this field if you’re equipped with the right tech skills and a global mindset.

Accounts receivable clerk career tips

Stay sharp with best practices

Keep your skills fresh and effective by staying updated on the latest in accounts receivable. Read up on industry news, join webinars, and participate in online discussions to stay in the loop and ready to handle your tasks like a pro.

Build your network

Knowing the right people can make a big difference. Join groups like the American Collectors Association (ACA) or the National Association of Credit Management (NACM). Networking can lead to new job opportunities and valuable insights into your industry.

Improve your customer service skills

Since you’ll be dealing a lot with customers, being great at customer service can really pay off. It helps you get payments on time and keeps your clients happy.

Master the tools of the trade

Knowing how to use accounting software like QuickBooks or SAP is crucial. Stay updated on tech advancements to keep your work efficient and accurate.

Pay attention to the details

Mistakes in billing can cause big problems. Sharpen your attention to detail to avoid errors, and keep financial records spot on.

Never stop learning

Always look for ways to learn more—whether taking a new course, getting a certification, or attending a workshop. Areas to focus on might include cash management, regulatory compliance, or negotiation.

Get good at negotiating

Sometimes, you’ll need to talk terms with clients. Improving your negotiation skills can help you secure the best deals for your company.

Analyze and solve problems

Be ready to dig into the data and solve tricky issues as they arise. Strengthen your analytical and problem-solving skills to handle any challenges smoothly.

Where the accounts receivable clerk jobs are

Top companies

  • Accenture
  • Citi
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Wells Fargo
  • Bank of America

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder


What qualifications are typically needed for an accounts receivable clerk?

Their qualifications often include a high school diploma, although some employers may prefer candidates with an associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Familiarity with financial software, spreadsheets, and databases, plus strong math, organizational, and communication skills, are beneficial.

Is any specific certification necessary to become an AR clerk?

While certification is not typically required, obtaining a Certified Bookkeeper designation from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or a similar certification can enhance career prospects and credibility. These certifications validate knowledge and expertise in the field, which can be advantageous when seeking more advanced positions.

What does a typical day look like for an accounts receivable clerk?

A typical day may involve a variety of tasks, such as updating and maintaining records of expenditures, sending out payments, preparing invoices, and ensuring that receivables are collected promptly. The job also includes running account reports for management, processing payments and transactions, and dealing with discrepancies or disputes.

What are the key skills required for an accounts receivable clerk?

Attention to detail, the ability to work with numbers and financial data, proficiency with financial software, and excellent organizational abilities are all important. AR clerks should also have good communication skills, as they may need to interact with clients regarding payments, discrepancies, or billing inquiries.

What types of companies hire accounts receivable clerks?

A variety of businesses hire AR clerks. Any company that bills its clients for goods or services will likely need this role. 

What is the role of technology for an accounts receivable clerk?

They use accounting software to track invoices and payments, databases to maintain financial records, and spreadsheets to analyze data. They may also use electronic communication tools for corresponding with clients and colleagues.

Is there a high demand for accounts receivable clerks?

Their demand mirrors the overall economic landscape. As businesses grow and transact more, the need for professionals who can manage and track financial transactions increases. However, advancements in financial software and automation will likely lessen the demand over time.

How stressful is the job of an accounts receivable clerk?

Like any job, it can have stressful moments – especially at the end of fiscal periods or during audits when accuracy and timeliness are critical. However, the job can be managed effectively with good organizational and time management skills.

Is prior experience necessary to become an accounts receivable clerk?

While some employers may hire candidates with no prior experience for junior roles, many prefer at least a few years of experience in a similar position or in the accounting field. Gaining experience through internships, part-time jobs, or even relevant volunteer work can help break into this field.

Can an accounts receivable clerk work remotely?

Yes, they can often work remotely, especially as many financial systems and tools are now cloud-based. However, the possibility of remote work will depend on the specific employer’s policies and the nature of the business. Some companies may require their clerks to work on-site due to the sensitive nature of the financial data they handle.