Careers

Learn About Being an Accounting Clerk

What does an accounting clerk do?

Accounting clerks use accounting practices procedures to support the financial operations of a business. Accounting clerks make sure the company’s daily accounting functions run accurately. Tasks include updating financial records, generating financial reports and reconciling bank statements, and using accounting software programs to process transactions related to the company’s business dealings, like accounts payable/receivable, expense receipts and cash transactions. 

Additional responsibilities of an accounting clerk include:

  • Reconciling daily balance sheets
  • Perform and monitor bank deposits and transfers
  • Gather and organize financial data for periodic audits
  • Track company credit card charges, including payment discrepancies, refunds, returns and miscellaneous charges
  • Maintain orderly financial filing systems
  • Perform monthly account reconciliation and prepare related reports for management
  • Track tax payments and compile information for tax filing
  • Assist with other accounting projects in the office as needed
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Average salary

Many accounting clerks are full-time employees, though some may work part-time and remotely. Salaries for accounting clerks can vary depending on the level of education and relevant work experience and an employer’s industry, size and location.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $14.66 per hour
  • Some salaries range from $7.40 – $22.80 per hour

Accounting clerk requirements

Getting a position as an accounting clerk will have certain requirements depending on the level of jobs for which you’re applying, including:

Education

Entry-level accounting clerks are required to have at least an associate’s degree in accounting. Most employers prefer a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting and, depending on the company, some positions may even require a master’s degree. 

Typical coursework will include business management, accounting software and applications and accounting basics such as core cost, financial and managerial accounting processes and methods. Bachelor degree programs teach accounting students about Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and federal and state regulations, and how to prepare tax, payroll and financial statements.

Many companies prefer their accounting professionals to hold a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation. Preparing to test for this credential usually requires completing an accredited graduate program.

Training

Since specific job tasks vary by industry and company, entry-level accounting clerks typically train on the job under the guidance of a training supervisor or senior employee. Training teaches new clerks how to complete basic tasks, such as double-entry bookkeeping, in which the specific methods and technology related to their role are learned through hands-on experience. Experience and required education can enable bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks to advance their careers and become accountants or auditors.

Certifications

For these professionals, getting certifications is useful in gaining and validating their expertise in the field. Accounting clerks can earn certifications to gain more theoretical and practical knowledge of their responsibilities, test their professional skills and potentially advance their careers. Here are two of the most common certifications for this profession:

  • Certified Bookkeeper (CB): This designation, awarded by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, shows the individual’s earned skills and knowledge required to perform all bookkeeping tasks according to accepted accounting procedures. 

  • NBA Accounting Certification: This certification, accredited by the National Bookkeepers Association (NBA), is recognized throughout the United States and validates an individual’s accounting knowledge and skill. The program is aimed at helping accounting professionals distinguish themselves. The certification is awarded upon completion of the program and the concluding Uniform Accounting Certification Examination.

Skills

Accounting clerks use a range of skills to succeed in this role. Some skills include:

  • Organization: This skill involves creating simple methods to handle complex tasks and create order in the workplace. accounting clerks use organization skills to accurately file documents, filter incoming and outgoing communication and establish processes for completing daily responsibilities.

  • Critical thinking: Accounting professionals use critical thinking to make logical judgments that are based upon their own experience and research. This skill includes learning to effectively solve complicated problems with confidence and is a good way to enhance one’s credibility within the accounting field. 

  • Communication: Communicating with company executives and other employees should be done clearly, respectfully, and concisely. Accounting professionals use their communication skills to present concepts like income reporting and budgeting to non-accounting professionals in terms that they can understand without appearing arrogant or unlikeable.

  • Technical skills: These skills enable accounting professionals to properly use specific business and accounting software programs and applications when performing important tasks related to the company’s finances.  

Accounting clerk work environment

Accounting professionals typically work in an indoor office setting with the following characteristics: 

  • Full-time, sometimes over 40 hours a week, especially during tax season or other universal budgeting-related deadlines

  • Sitting at a desk for long periods of time

  • Working alone, with the occasional need to work with other business or accounting professionals

  • Using industry-specific software programs and common office equipment

  • Communicating with other accounting staff and the executives they support

  • Maintaining extreme attention to detail when completing tasks, as errors could cause clients to lose money or even cause legal problems

  • Performing repetitive mental tasks

  • Working autonomously

The skills, qualities and experience of accounting clerks are often transferable in many industries. These financial experts are sought in the following industries:

  • Businesses and corporations
  • Government
  • Education
  • Nonprofits
  • Healthcare

How to become an accounting clerk

Here are the most common steps to follow to become an accounting clerk:

  1. Pursue education. It is generally required for an accounting clerk to earn at least an associate’s degree in accounting, although employers prefer or even require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Earn the level of education that is most commonly required for these positions in your industry or location. You can also pursue specific designations if your intended industry prefers it.

  2. Gain relevant work experience. You can earn relevant work experience in support roles or internship positions. Positions that support accounting clerks or other accounting professionals, such as bookkeeper, accounting assistant, auditing clerk or tax preparer, perform supervised responsibilities and learn on the job. Consider serving in any of these roles as a student while you pursue your degrees.

  3. Earn technical certifications. The most sought-after certification is the CPA (certified public accountant), but there are many well-respected designations available to accounting professionals. These certifications validate your accounting skills, credibility and professional acumen and could retrieve a higher salary.

  4. Prepare your resume. Include your highest level of education, certifications or designations and relevant experience. Your work experience section should include the organization’s name, the dates you were employed and a short description of your responsibilities, contributions and achievements. 

  5. Seek roles matching your qualifications. After completing your desired level of education and experience and earning your professional certifications, review the current job listings in your local area. Apply to positions you are qualified for based on required education and experience. Be ready to sell your skills to a hiring manager in an interview and present a cover letter that highlights your achievements and ability to perform the role.

Accounting clerk job description example

Big Apple Accounting Firm is looking to hire a full-time accounting clerk to perform accounting and clerical duties and ensure the accuracy of our clients’ financial records. This role is responsible for reconciling accounts payable and receivable accounts, invoicing clients, guaranteeing timely payment of invoices and assisting in the development and maintenance of our firm’s comprehensive financial filing system. In addition to providing accounting and clerical support to the accounting department, the duties for this role are as follows:

  • Record financial transactions in our database
  • Prepare bank deposits, general ledger postings and statements
  • Research and resolve any issues or discrepancies found in accounting documentation 
  • Compile and present financial reports and summaries to management
  • Follow established standards, procedures and applicable laws
  • Provide assistance and support to company personnel as needed
  • Participate in continuing education to  stay up to date on accounting practices and methods

Requirements for this role:

  • A minimum of one year of experience as an accounting clerk 
  • Familiarity and adherence to basic accounting practices
  • Competency in word processing, database and accounting software
  • A high level of comfort preparing spreadsheets and financial reports
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Associate’s degree plus relevant certification or a bachelor’s degree and one-year experience

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