General Office Clerks

Summary

general office clerks image
General office clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks, such as copying or scanning documents.
Quick Facts: General Office Clerks
2012 Median Pay $27,470 per year
$13.21 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 2,983,500
Job Outlook, 2012-22 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 184,100

What General Office Clerks Do

General office clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks, including answering telephones, typing or word processing, making copies of documents, and maintaining records.

Work Environment

Although general office clerks are employed in nearly every industry, most work in schools, healthcare facilities, and government. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2012.

How to Become a General Office Clerk

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

Pay

The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $13.21 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of general office clerks is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Nonetheless, overall job opportunities should be good. Candidates who have a combination of work experience and computer software skills should have the best job prospects.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of general office clerks with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about general office clerks by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What General Office Clerks Do About this section

General office clerks
General office clerks answer phones and schedule meetings.

General office clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks, including answering telephones, typing or word processing, making copies of documents, and maintaining records.

Duties

General office clerks typically do the following:

  • Answer telephone calls, take messages, or transfer calls to staff
  • 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 maintain paper or electronic documents and records
  • Prepare and process travel vouchers, billing, or other office documents
  • Obtain information, send correspondence, or perform data entry

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

Some clerks spend their time filing documents or answering phones; others enter data into computers. Because organizations often keep files and records on computers, office clerks use computer software applications. They also frequently use photocopiers, fax machines, and other office equipment.

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

Clerks’ duties also vary by level of experience. Inexperienced employees may sort mail and take phone messages. Experienced clerks usually have additional responsibilities. For example, they may be required to maintain financial records, set up spreadsheets, or check statistical reports for accuracy.

Some senior office clerks may supervise and direct the work of other clerks.

Work Environment About this section

General office clerks
General office clerks work in office buildings.

General office clerks held about 3 million jobs in 2012 and were employed in nearly every industry.

The industries that employed the most general office clerks in 2012 were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private12%
Health care and social assistance12
Administrative and support and
waste management and remediation services
10
Government9

General office clerks usually work in comfortable office settings.

Work Schedules

Most general office clerks work full time. About 1 in 4 clerks worked part time in 2012.

How to Become a General Office Clerk About this section

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

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

Education

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

Business education programs offered in community colleges and postsecondary vocational schools can help candidates prepare for an entry-level job. Courses in office practices, word processing, and other common computer applications are particularly helpful.

Training

General office clerks usually learn their skills on the job. On-the-job training typically lasts up to 1 month and may include instructions on office procedures and the use of office equipment.

Advancement

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

Advancement opportunities often depend on work experience, work habits, and computer software skills.

Important 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 About this section

General Office Clerks

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$16.71

Other office and administrative support workers

$13.74

General office clerks

$13.21

 

The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $13.21 in May 2012. 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 $8.59 per hour, and the top 10 percent earned more than $21.21 per hour.

In May 2012, median hourly wages for general office clerks in the top four industries employing these clerks were as follows:

Government$15.24
Health care and social assistance13.23
Educational services;
state, local, and private
13.08
Administrative and support and
waste management and remediation services
12.25

Most general office clerks work full time. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2012.

Job Outlook About this section

General Office Clerks

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

General office clerks

6%

Other office and administrative support workers

3%

 

Employment of general office clerks is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by industry.

For example, healthcare facilities are expected to require more workers to handle various administrative tasks related to billing and insurance processing as more people have access to health insurance and medical services. Conversely, employment of general office clerks in the federal government is projected to decline as other workers are increasingly performing tasks that general office clerks used to do.

Overall, employment growth of office clerks should moderate as technology makes them more productive. For example, many organizations maintain electronic documents or use automated phone systems, reducing the need for general office clerks.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good due to employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Job opportunities in healthcare facilities should be best, while opportunities in schools and government are expected to be less favorable.

Candidates who have a combination of work experience and computer software skills should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for general office clerks, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Office clerks, general

43-9061 2,983,500 3,167,600 6 184,100 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of general office clerks.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,170
Customer service representatives

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,580
Information clerks

Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,650
Material recording clerks

Material Recording Clerks

Material recording clerks keep track of information in order to keep businesses and supply chains on schedule. They ensure proper scheduling, recordkeeping, and inventory control.

See How to Become One $24,810
Receptionists

Receptionists

Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.

High school diploma or equivalent $25,990
Secretaries and administrative assistants

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,330
Tellers

Tellers

Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank. These transactions include cashing checks, depositing money, and collecting loan payments.

High school diploma or equivalent $24,940
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, General Office Clerks,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/general-office-clerks.htm (visited December 20, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014