What Is Clerical Work? (Plus Common Clerical Duties and Responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

Clerical work involves a range of general office tasks, such as entering data, filing records, answering phone calls and typing documents. Administrative or office clerks aid in the effective functioning of a company or organisation. Understanding the duties and responsibilities of an office clerk can help you determine if this career suits your skills and personality. In this article, we explore several clerical duties and learn how to become an office clerk.

What is clerical work?

Clerical work refers to daily office duties, such as data entry, answering phone calls and sorting and filing documents. You can often find clerical duties in different types of administrative and office support roles. Usually, office clerks, secretaries, administrative assistants and clerks perform clerical duties, so it's important for them to know how to use sophisticated computer systems, copiers, printers and other equipment to carry out many clerical duties.

Related: What Is an Administrative Assistant? (And How To Become One)

Common clerical duties

While clerical work can vary according to the work environment, it typically includes:

  • Performing bookkeeping duties: This involves the recording of financial transactions using spreadsheets and other financial software.

  • Collecting and disbursing money: Office clerks may also collect, count and disburse money in an office.

  • Communicating with customers and colleagues: Office clerks communicate with customers or colleagues by answering their questions, passing along relevant information and addressing customers' complaints.

  • Answering phone calls: Answering phone calls and taking messages are some of the most common clerical duties in an office.

  • Filing records and documents: Office clerks file important company records and store documents properly. This also involves compiling, copying and sorting records of office activities.

  • Operating office machines: Clerical duties involve operating office machines like voicemail systems, photocopiers and scanners and personal computers

  • Keeping records and reports: Office clerks carry out the computation and recording of important company reports.

  • Maintaining the mailing database: Compiling and keeping the mailing database systems of a company is another clerical duty in an office. This is either done manually or with the use of a computer.

  • Replying to emails: Office clerks check and record information from company emails and pass them along to relevant departments in the company

  • Delivering messages: Running errands and delivering messages in and out of the office are also common clerical duties

  • Arranging appointments: Office clerks complete work schedules, manage calendars and organise appointments.

Related: What Does an Administrative Officer Do?

Average salary of office clerks

The average salary of office clerks is $13,236 per month. This amount varies depending on several factors, including their work history, level of education and the employer's industry and company size. It may also vary depending on the position. For instance, a senior level office clerk may receive higher compensation compared to an entry-level office clerk.

Related: How To Provide Your Expected Salary (With Tips and Examples)

Office clerk work environment

An office clerk usually performs their duties and responsibilities in an office setting. They may either work 40 hours per week in a full-time position or may work in a part-time capacity. Their job rarely involves travelling or working outside of office hours. While these professionals can work in a wide variety of sectors or industries, many of them work in educational services, government offices, healthcare and social services, administrative services and technical services.

How to become an office clerk

Here are the steps you can take to become an office clerk:

1. Earn a high school diploma and a relevant degree

An office clerk usually has a high school diploma or a Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) qualification. If you want to increase your career opportunities, you can opt for a degree in office management, which can take two years to complete. During this two-year degree programme, which you can complete at various technical schools and community colleges, you can learn how to manage administrative duties, such as office filing, bookkeeping and correspondence.

A degree in office management may cover topics such as computer operations, accounting, database management, business law and records management. You may also learn how to design business plans. If you're on a specialised track, you can opt for field-specific subjects like legal writing. In addition to course work, some schools may expect you to complete an internship or some kind of practical experience to complete the course.

2. Complete on-the-job training

Office clerks usually receive on-the-job training, which may include payroll and other company-specific systems. For example, if the company uses accounting or database software, the employer may train you how to use their database effectively. You may also receive instruction on a range of office procedures and how to operate office equipment.

3. Develop your skills

Clerical duties usually involve paying close attention to detail. It's important for office clerks to review documents properly to make sure it's free from typos or errors. Here are the general skills office clerks commonly have:

Organisation skills

Office clerks keep the company's office organised by keeping it clean, categorising files and organising incoming mails. It's important for you to know how to forward emails to the right recipient when working in the company's general email account. You may also be responsible for the calendars of other staff members, so it's important for you to understand how to schedule appointments and meetings using a scheduling program.

Computer skills

Office clerks use computers to do their jobs, so it's important to have basic knowledge of word processing software. You may create documents, edit them or take meeting notes on a computer that you then send to other staff members via email. It's also important for you to understand how to file electronic documents and how to access them. Here are some computer skills you can develop:

  • data entry skills

  • sound knowledge of desktop publishing

  • ability to use digital calendars

  • ability to design and edit web pages

  • ability to update or post on social media sites

  • excellent typing skills

  • data management and visualisation skills

Time-management skills

Office clerks usually work with minimal supervision. It's important for you to understand how to manage your time well independently. It may be helpful for you to understand how to organise your workday and perform all required tasks before your shift ends.

Interpersonal skills

An office clerk is usually the first person people interact with upon arriving at an office. It's important for you to present yourself professionally. Consider developing an understanding of how to interact with clients, resolve situations and answer questions. Office clerks may work with clients who are upset, so it's important to know how to help them find a solution calmly.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Bookkeeping skills

Basic bookkeeping skills are also important, as you may perform financial transactions. It's important for you to understand what information to include in the bookkeeping system and establish a method for organising receipts and other finance-related paperwork. You may also create copies of financial records for clients or insurance purposes.

Detail-oriented

It's important to be attentive to details when managing client account. It's important to make sure all information is accurate before submitting documents and ensure all client information remains secure and confidential. You may take detailed messages when customers call to relay the right information.

Understanding of mathematics

A variety of important clerical duties involve performing different mathematical calculations and processes. You may perform accounting and bookkeeping duties that involve numerical tasks. These may include reconciling receipts each month or making bank transactions. Here are some of the basic numerical or math skills you can develop:

  • accounting skills

  • bookkeeping skills

  • knowledge of arithmetic

  • excellent budgeting skills

  • precise logical thinking

  • ability to keep up with the latest computer trends

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

4. Earn certification

Obtaining certification is another way in which you can demonstrate your skills and knowledge. Certification can also set you apart from other candidates. Here are some certifications for office clerks:

  • Administrative professional certification: While you can study for this examination on your own, you can attend a training programme that covers several topics for the exam, such as advanced organisational management, office administration and office systems and technology. You can complete these courses at your local college or university, and some of these programmes may also include internship opportunities.

  • Certified business administration certification: This certification programme usually covers topics such as office administration, management practices and human resources management. You can obtain this certification at your local college or university.

5. Take training courses

Consider developing certain skills by completing training courses. Companies offer courses in-person or online, and some may charge a fee. There are many different course topics that develop your professional skills, such as accounting, business development or a computer skills course. Taking a course can demonstrate your ability to take initiative and identify any gaps in your understanding. These key characteristics may set you apart from other candidates.

6. Practise

Continue to practise new skills so that you become more comfortable applying them in real-life situations. You can make several mistakes while learning, but practising can lead you to progress and eventual success. For instance, if you're having a hard time operating the copy machine, practise making a few copies of a document until you master the activity.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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