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Career Profile: Bookkeeping Clerk

Career Profile: Bookkeeping Clerk

Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is this job like?

Expenditures. Receipts. Accounts payable and receivable. Profits and losses. Any organization that uses money has to keep records—records of where money came from and where it went. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, as well as other financial clerks, keep these financial records.

Bookkeeping clerks add, subtract, multiply, and divide many numbers each day. They must be able to use computers to calculate and record data. There is a wide variety of bookkeeping clerks. Certain clerks handle only specific accounts. Some bookkeepers maintain books for an entire company.

In small businesses, bookkeeping clerks handle all financial recordkeeping. They post debits and credits. They produce financial statements. They prepare reports and summaries for managers. Bookkeepers also prepare bank deposits. They verify and balance receipts. Then they send cash and checks to the bank. They also may handle payroll and make purchases. They might prepare invoices and keep track of overdue accounts.

In large companies, accounting clerks have more specialized tasks. Their titles show the type of work they do: accounts payable clerk, accounts receivable clerk, etc. Their duties vary.

Entry-level accounting clerks post transactions, total accounts, and compute interest charges. They also may monitor loans and accounts. They make sure that payments are up to date.

More advanced accounting clerks may total, balance, and reconcile billing vouchers. They might ensure completeness and accuracy of account data.

Many bookkeeping clerks use special software. Computers have enabled them to take on more duties. They might write letters, make phone calls to clients, and interact with other workers. So, good communication skills are becoming more important.

Most bookkeeping clerks work regular business hours, though some only work part time. They may work longer hours at certain times to meet deadlines. For example, they might work more hours during tax time. Audits usually mean more work. Bookkeeping clerks in hotels, restaurants, and stores may work overtime during peak holiday and vacation seasons.

Bookkeeping clerks work in offices. Most use computers every day.

How do you get ready?

Most financial clerks have at least a high school diploma. Bookkeepers are often required to have an associate degree. Business or accounting degrees are most common. Having a bachelor’s degree is rarely required, but if a graduate does accept a job he or she is likely to advance more quickly than someone without a degree. Having a certification in bookkeeping is also a plus.

Experience working in an office is beneficial. Customer service work is also good experience. Most employers prefer workers with good speaking and writing skills. They also like people who are orderly and detail-oriented. It’s good to know how to use a computer. Knowledge of word-processing and spreadsheet software is very valuable.

How much does this job pay?

The middle half of all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned between $24,540 and $37,780 a year in 2006. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $19,760. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $46,020.

How many jobs are there?

More than 2.1 million people worked as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in 2006. They work in all industries and in local, State, and Federal Government. Also, many work in the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services industry. Those working for employment services firms are growing in number. About 1 out of 4 bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks worked part time in 2006.

What about the future?

The number of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is expected to grow about as fast as average through 2016. A growing economy means there are more financial records that must be handled by clerical workers. But office automation, which improves worker productivity, reduces employment growth. This occurs because one worker can do work that used to require more than one worker.

Most job openings will come from the need to replace workers who stop working as bookkeepers. Numerous jobs will become available as these workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. The large size of this occupation ensures plentiful job openings. There will be many opportunities for temporary and part-time work.

Demand for full-charge bookkeepers is expected to increase. These are bookkeepers who can do much of the work of accountants. People with several years of accounting experience or bookkeeper certification will have the best job prospects.