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Clerks and Accountants in Clerical Occupations

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People who process papers in offices or handle related activities are classed as clerical workers. Depending on their duties, there are many kinds of clerical workers: general clerks, special clerks (such as mail, payroll, or file clerks), machine operators, bookkeepers, stenographers, secretaries, proofreaders, copy editors, and administrative support workers. In a small office, there may be only one general office worker who does all of the paperwork connected with the operation. One employer will call this worker "my clerk"; another will refer to the employee as "my secretary"; and a third may call this same person "my assistant."

In larger offices, the duties become more specialized, and office management has been trying for years to develop titles that suggest specific duties and responsibilities so that everybody can understand what is meant by a particular job title. Job classification, though, is in its infancy; and a person has only to read the "Help Wanted" column to realize that one company may advertise for a "secretary" while another company will describe identical duties and ask for a "clerk."

The definitions of titles used here are taken from the government's attempt at standardization, The Dictionary of Occupational Titles. According to this source, a general clerk (office clerk routine) performs any combination of the following clerical tasks not requiring knowledge of systems or procedures:

Writes or types bills, statements, receipts, checks, or other documents, copying information from one record to another; Proofreading records or forms; Counts, weighs or measures material; Sorts and files records; Receives money from customers and deposits money in bank; Addresses envelopes or packages by hand or with typewriter or addressograph machine; Stuffs envelopes by hand or with envelope-stuffing machine. Answers telephone, conveys messages, and runs errands. Stamps, sorts, and distributes mail. Stamps or numbers forms by hand or machine; and Operates office duplicating equipment.

An administrative clerk (general office clerk) performs the following clerical duties, utilizing knowledge of systems or procedures:

Copies data and compiles records and reports. Tabulates and posts data in record books. Computes wages, taxes, premiums, commissions, and payments; Records orders for merchandise or service; Gives information to and interviews customers, claimants, employees and sales personnel. Receives, counts, and pays out cash. Prepares, issues, and sends out receipts, bills, policies, invoices, statements, and checks; Prepares stock inventory; Adjusts complaints; Operates office machines, such as typewriter, adding, calculating, and duplicating machines. Opens and routes incoming mail, answers correspondence, and prepares outgoing mail; May take dictation; May prepare payroll; May keep books; May purchase supplies. May be designated according to field of activity or according to location of employment as Airport Clerk, (air transportation); Death-Claim Clerk (insurance); Field Clerk (clerical): Colliery Clerk (mining and quarrying).

In addition to general clerks with non specialized duties, there are highly specialized types of clerks who perform one routine duty at a high level of competency. For instance, a person who runs off mimeograph stencils all day long is classified as a duplicating machine clerk. A clerk whose sole duty is to compute payrolls on the comptometer or National Cash Register Accounting Machine is a payroll clerk. For practical purposes, the term clerk refers to one who performs office duties not generally assigned to bookkeepers, stenographers, salespeople, or managers.

Office positions are classified on different levels, depending on such factors as the educational requirements, amount of supervision required, amount of responsibility assumed, special skills required, or risk involved.

The Administrative Management Society has prepared a condensed guide for twenty job classifications that gives a quick over-all picture of common types of clerical positions in offices through-out the United States and Canada.

File Clerk

Performs general alphabetical and numeric filing; sorting and cross-referencing; Locates and removes material upon request and keeps records of its disposition. Maintains and updates files according to an established system. May deliver files, copy material from files, and purge outdated materials.

General Clerk B

Performs basic office or clerical duties on short assignments, with a close check over tasks, which are highly structured and are in accordance with the established procedures. This is a higher Office Salaries Survey, 1980 Administrative Management Society.

General Clerk A

Performs diverse clerical tasks requiring analysis, judgment, and a detailed knowledge of department and/or company policies and procedures dealing with the incumbent's area of responsibility. Duties may require proficiency with one or more types of operational office equipment. Minimum supervision required.

Accounting Clerk B

Checks, verifies, and posts journal vouchers, accounts payable vouchers, or other simple accounting data of a recurring or standard nature.

Accounting Clerk A

Keeps a complete set of accounting records in a small office or handles one phase of accounting in a larger unit which requires the accounting training needed to determine proper accounting entries, prepares accounting reports, analyzes accounting records to determine causes of results shown, etc. May direct work to junior clerks or bookkeepers. (Excludes supervisors)
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