Organizations must organize and manage their financial transactions to function efficiently and profitably. While accountants reign over most numbers data, account clerks help with administrative details, such as checking for accuracy, storing records or updating statements. About one-quarter of account clerks worked part-time in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their hours expand during tax time or the end of the fiscal year. Their duties vary by the size of the firm.
Account clerks process, verify, organize and store an organization’s financial records. While they may still rely on pencil, paper and calculators to perform their duties, many also use bookkeeping software and computer databases. They receive and record checks, cash and other methods of payment, reconcile any differences found in records and produce reports as requested, such as balance sheets, profit charts or income statements. In small businesses, an account clerk may handle all financial functions. In large corporations, clerks often specialize in one or more tasks, such as accounts receivable or payable.
Bookkeepers are specialized account clerks who manage an organization’s general ledger, more often called “the books.” In this document or file, they post, or record, income as credits and expenses as debits. In many small firms, they may be the only accounting professional, or may handle the books of several businesses as self-employed individuals. They may also handle payroll, prepare deposits for banks and handle billings by sending out invoices and tracking overdue accounts. They occasionally produce financial reports, so managers can make accurate financial decisions.
Account clerks require several skills to perform their duties. They must be good at math since dealing with numbers is the primary responsibility of their profession. They must be detail-oriented and keep accurate records and spot financial errors made by others. They need computer skills and use software to perform many of their responsibilities. Clerks sometimes deal with sensitive financial information that affect the organization’s financial well being. Therefore, keeping their dealings confidential is a necessity -- they must make sure records are transparent and easily accessible to company decision-makers.
A high-school diploma is the minimum requirement for most account clerks, especially if students took courses in math, computers and business. Some employers prefer candidates with a post-secondary education in accounting. New employees receive training on the job from more experienced clerks or from supervisors. Certification is available from national organizations, such as the Certified Bookkeeper designation granted by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for account clerks to increase by an average 14 percent from 2010 to 2020. Demand will come primarily from economic growth.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment for Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook for Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks
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