General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.

Duties

General office clerks typically do the following:

  • Answer and transfer telephone calls or take messages
  • Sort and deliver incoming mail and send outgoing mail
  • Schedule appointments and receive customers or visitors
  • Provide general information to staff, clients, or the public
  • Type, format, or edit routine memos or other reports
  • Copy, file, and update paper and electronic documents
  • Prepare and process bills and other office documents
  • Collect information and perform data entry

Rather than performing a single specialized task, general office clerks have responsibilities that often change daily with the current needs of the employer.

Some clerks file documents or answer phones; others enter data into computers or perform other tasks using software applications. They also frequently use photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, and other office equipment.

The specific duties assigned to clerks will depend on the type of office in which they work. For example, a general office clerk at a college or university may process application materials and answer questions from prospective students, while a clerk at a hospital may file and retrieve medical records.

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Work Environment

General office clerks held about 3.2 million jobs in 2018. The largest employers of general office clerks were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 12%
Healthcare and social assistance 11
Government 9
Administrative and support services 9
Professional, scientific, and technical services                          8

General office clerks usually work in office settings.

Work Schedules

Most general office clerks work full time.

Education and Training

General office clerks typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn their skills on the job.

Education

General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Courses in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software, may be helpful for those who aren’t already familiar with them.

Training

General office clerks usually learn their skills while on the job. Their training typically lasts up to one month and may include instructions on office procedures, proper phone etiquette, and the use of office equipment.

Advancement

General office clerks may advance to other administrative positions with more responsibility, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

Advancement opportunities often depend on work experience.

Personality and Interests

General office clerks typically have an interest in the Building, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a general office clerk, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

General office clerks should also possess the following specific qualities:

Customer-service skills. Clerks often provide general information to company staff, customers, or the public. As a result, they should be courteous and prompt with their response.

Detail oriented. Many administrative tasks, such as proofreading documents and arranging schedules, require excellent attention to detail.

Organizational skills. Being organized helps office clerks retrieve files and other important information quickly and efficiently.

Pay

The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $16.37 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.16, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.59.

In May 2019, the median hourly wages for general office clerks in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $17.90
Professional, scientific, and technical services                                     16.83
Healthcare and social assistance 16.14
Educational services; state, local, and private 15.33
Administrative and support services 15.16

Most general office clerks work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of general office clerks is projected to decline 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Some office clerks will be needed to handle administrative duties related to complex billing and healthcare insurance processing, but the increasing use of technology that automates document preparation tasks will result in fewer general office clerks needed to perform the work. For example, many organizations maintain electronic documents or use automated phone systems, reducing the need for some general office clerks. In addition, electronic filing systems and file sharing software allow other office workers to do the tasks of general office clerks, further decreasing employment of office clerks.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the labor force or this large occupation.

For More Information

For more information about administrative occupations, visit

International Association of Administrative Professionals

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.