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


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.

Work Environment

General office clerks held about 2.8 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of general office clerks were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance 11%
Educational services; state, local, and private 11
Government 10
Professional, scientific, and technical services          8
Administrative and support 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 to enter the occupation and learn their skills on the job.


General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some clerks have a bachelor's degree in fields such as business, social science, and psychology.

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


General office clerks usually learn their skills while on the job. Their training typically lasts up to 1 month and may include instructions on office procedures, proper phone etiquette, and the use of office equipment.


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.


The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $17.81 in May 2021. 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 $11.30, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28.31.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for general office clerks in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $18.23
Professional, scientific, and technical services          17.91
Healthcare and social assistance 17.74
Educational services; state, local, and private 17.44
Administrative and support services 17.24

Most general office clerks work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of general office clerks is projected to decline 5 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 325,400 openings for general office clerks are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


The continued use of technology that automates document preparation and other clerical tasks, such as automated phone systems, will result in fewer general office clerks needed to perform this work. In addition, electronic filing systems and file sharing software allow other office workers to do the tasks previously done by general office clerks, further decreasing employment of office clerks. However, there will still be some sustained demand for these workers to handle administrative tasks.


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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I think I have found an error or inaccurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

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

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.

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