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Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

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Summary: Requirements, benefits, and job outlook for bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks.

A quick look at the role of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks.

Nature of the Work



Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are an organization's financial record keepers. They compute, classify, record, and verify numerical data in order to develop and maintain financial records.

In smaller establishments, bookkeeping clerks handle all aspects of financial transactions. They record debits and credits, compare current and past balance sheets, summarize details of separate ledgers, and prepare reports for supervisors and managers. They may also prepare bank deposits by compiling data from cashiers, verifying and balancing receipts, and sending the cash, checks, or other forms of payment to the bank.

In larger offices and accounting departments, accounting clerks are more specialized. Their title may reflect the type of accounting they do, such as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk. Entry-level accounting clerks post details of transactions, total accounts, and compute interest charges. They may also monitor loans and accounts payable and receivable to ensure that payments are up to date. More advanced clerks may total, balance, and reconcile billing vouchers; ensure completeness and accuracy of data on accounts; and code documents according to company procedures. They post transactions in journals and on computer files, and update these files when needed. They also review computer printouts against manually maintained journals, and make necessary corrections. Senior workers review invoices and statements to make sure all information is accurate and complete, and may reconcile computer reports with operating reports.

Auditing clerks verify records of transactions posted by other workers. They check figures, postings, and documents for correct entry, mathematical accuracy, and proper codes. They also correct or note errors for accountants or other workers to adjust.

Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks post charges to accounts on computer spreadsheets and databases. Information is entered into the computer from receipts or bills and then is stored either electronically or as computer printouts, or both.

Working Conditions

Record clerks typically work in an office environment. Most work alongside the organization's other clerical workers, but some work in centralized units away from the organization's front office. Clerks who review detailed data may have to sit for extended periods.

Most of these workers work regular business hours. Accounting clerks may work longer hours to meet deadlines at the end of the fiscal year, during tax time, or when monthly and yearly accounting audits are performed. Billing, bookkeeping, and accounting clerks in hotels, restaurants, and stores may work overtime during peak holiday and vacation seasons.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Most clerk jobs are entry-level positions. Most employers require applicants to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. A higher level of education will usually be favored over a high school diploma, but it is not generally required. Most employers prefer those who are computer literate. Knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software is especially valuable, as is experience working in an office and good interpersonal skills.

High schools, business schools, and community colleges teach office skills. Business education programs typically include courses in typing, word processing, shorthand, business communications, records management, and office systems and procedures.

Some entrants are college graduates with degrees in business, finance, or the liberal arts. Although a degree is rarely required, many graduates take entry-level clerical positions to get into a company or into the finance and accounting field, with the hope of being promoted to professional or managerial jobs. Some companies, such as brokerage and accounting firms, have a set plan of advancement that track college graduates from entry-level clerk jobs into management positions. These workers may start at higher salaries and advance more rapidly than those without a degree.

Once hired, clerks generally receive on the job training. Under the guidance of a supervisor or senior worker, new employees learn company procedures. Some formal classroom training may be necessary, such as training in operating specific computer software.

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks must be careful, orderly, and detail oriented in order to avoid making errors and to be able to recognize errors made by others. These workers must also be honest, discreet, and trustworthy because they frequently come in contact with confidential material. They should have a strong aptitude for numbers.

Job Outlook

Employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is expected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. Technological change and software innovations have reduced the demand for actual workers because the same amount of bookkeeping work can be done with fewer employees. It is also expected that these roles will switch to a more analytical and advisory role in the next 10 years.

Earnings

Salaries of these workers vary according to region of the country, size of city, and type and size of establishment. The level of industry or technical expertise required and the complexity and uniqueness of a clerk's responsibilities may also affect earnings. The median earning of fulltime bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $39,240 in 2017.

In addition to salary, clerks receive the same package of benefits as other employees in the organization. Sick and annual leave, life and health insurance, and retirement plans are common.

Similar Occupations

Accountants/auditors, bill/account collectors, budget analysts, cost estimators, loan officers, purchasing managers, tellers, tax examiners, secretaries, and administrative assistants.

 
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