What Is a Clerical Worker?

by Laurie Brenner

A clerical worker is a white-collar worker who typically works inside an office. Clerical workers perform a broad range of tasks that include maintaining databases, answering phones, filing documents or scheduling appointments or travel for administrative or executive staff. Job duties vary with the business or organization that employs the clerical worker. Clerical workers work for business, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Clerical Work

The type of work clerical workers do is dependent upon the organizations for which they work. Clerical staff might greet customers or clients, prepare billing statements, run fax and copy machines or place office supply orders. Sometimes the clerical worker is responsible for opening and distributing mail, proofreading documents, taking inventory or stuffing envelopes for mail. The type of work the clerical worker is assigned is based upon education, experience and job title.


Graduation from high school or a GED usually is all the education a clerical worker needs to get a job. People who took business courses in high school or graduated from a technical school often seek entry-level clerical jobs to begin their careers. Many organizations choose to offer on-the-job training to clerical staff, which usually lasts about a month. Courses in business practices and computer word processing or spreadsheet programs benefit the clerical worker when she looks for employment.

Important Skills

Successful clerical workers that have opportunities for advancement require some essential skills. It is important to have an eye for detail to proofread or file documents. Interpersonal skills help the clerical worker take part in teamwork and get along with others in the office. Verbal and written communication skills are paramount in a world that depends on email and telephone conversations. Last, but not least, the successful clerical worker knows how to organize and prioritize tasks.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of general office clerk positions are expected to grow by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is slightly above average when compared to all occupations. The BLS reported the median hourly wage in 2010 as $12.79 per hour, or $26,603 per year. Those in the top 10 percent earned more than $20.12 per hour in 2010, or $41,408 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned only slightly more than minimum wage at $8.31 per hour, or $17,285 per year. The BLS listed the highest paying clerical jobs in government at $14.82 per hour, or $30,825 per year.

About the Author

As a native Californian, artist, businessperson, contractor, journalist and published author, Laurie Reeves began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. In 2003, she and her husband moved into the home she designed, they built and decorated. Reeves graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.

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