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Clerical work encompasses administrative duties and basic office tasks, like answering phones and sending out memos. If you're organized, forward-thinking and enjoy working with people across multiple platforms, you might consider working as a clerical officer. These professionals assume lots of responsibilities around the office, and ultimately keep the place on-task and running smoothly.
Clerical Officer Job Duties
Clerical officers do a bit of everything: in-office communications, taking and delivering messages, filing, data entry, faxing, envelope stuffing, running errands, general organization. Exact responsibilities vary depending on the office environment and nature of the company, and they may change through the day as the office's needs change.
Generally, clerical officers take care of administrative tasks, which requires excellent communication, organization and multi-tasking skills. Clerical work often requires you to put out little fires through the day, so job candidates should make sure they can keep a clear, level head, even when their environment becomes stressful.
Clerks should expect to work in office environments during regular business hours, though exact schedules may vary depending on the company. Generally, you can expect to encounter the following tasks in any clerical assistant position:
- Answering phones, taking messages and directing calls.
- Operating photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, personal computers and voicemail systems.
- Maintaining and updating inventory, database, mailing and filing systems.
- Opening, sorting and distributing incoming mail.
- Answering correspondence and preparing outgoing mail.
- Organizing and mailing bills, policies, checks, contracts and invoices.
Skill and Education Requirements
If you think you have the right demeanor for clerical work, the next step is to obtain the skills and education required for the position. Most positions for clerical assistants require candidates to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, though some employers may prefer applicants with an associate degree. Applicants should also make sure to master some basic office skills, including:
- Phone skills.
- Word processing.
- Common computer applications.
- Comfort with common office equipment (e.g., fax machines).
Every clerical officer job is a little different, depending on the office type. A clerk working in a medical office would have different duties from that of a clerk working in a public relations firm, for example. As long as you possess the core skills to work as a clerical officer, your employer should provide specific on-the-job training to teach you the rest.
Many clerk positions are entry-level, and their earnings are on the lower end of the pay spectrum. According to PayScale, a clerical assistant can expect to earn a median wage of $31,000 each year, which breaks down to about $13 an hour. Those in the lowest 10 percent of earners make approximately $20,000 annually, while those in the 90th percentile bring home as much as $44,000 each year.
Clerical assistants have several options for career advancement, often moving into administrative assistant, administrative or office manager, registered nurse (RN), office manager and medical assistant positions. Those who obtain their RN certification and move into a nursing role, can increase their income substantially, with professionals in these occupations earning a median annual wage of $56,000. Administrative assistants make about $4,000 more each year than clerical assistants, and office managers earn about $11,000 more annually.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.