How to Become a General Office Clerk

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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.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. General office clerks often provide general information to company staff, customers, or the public. They should be courteous and prompt with their responses.

Detail oriented. General office clerks perform many clerical tasks that require attention to detail, such as preparing bills.

Organizational skills. General office clerks file and retrieve records. They need to keep records organized to be able to access them quickly and efficiently.

What General Office Clerks Do

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.

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 services16.83
Healthcare and social assistance16.14
Educational services; state, local, and private15.33
Administrative and support services15.16

Most general office clerks work full time.