Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks are responsible for maintaining and updating various accounting records, including accounts payable and receivable, receipts, profit and loss, and expenditures. They may conduct all recordkeeping for a single employer, perform specific duties within a larger accounting department or work with multiple clients.
Clerks employed by small businesses generally record all financial transactions and prepare reports, summaries and statements for managers and supervisors. They often handle payroll, prepare invoices, make purchases and keep records of overdue accounts.
Professionals working for large companies tend to perform more specialized duties. They may hold such roles as accounts receivable clerk, accounts payable clerk or payroll administrator.
Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerk Job Summary
Work Environment for Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks work in almost every industry.
Many employers prefer candidates to hold an associate's degree in business or accounting as postsecondary education becomes more important for these jobs.
This field should have many job openings in the coming years, including temporary and part-time positions.
Most bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks work in office settings. Many use specialized databases, software and spreadsheets to enter financial information into computers. Technology has enabled clerks to work faster, so they may take on more job duties than workers of the past. Because they spend much of the day in front of a computer, they may be prone to muscle or eye strain, headaches, backaches or repetitive motion injuries.
The majority of bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks put in a 40-hour work week, with about one-quarter of clerks working part-time in 2008. Overtime – including evenings and weekends – are occasionally required, such as during tax season or when audits are performed. Clerks who work in restaurants, hotels or stores may work extra hours during vacation seasons and holidays.
Education, Training and Licensing
While the minimum education for most bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk jobs is a high school diploma, many employers prefer candidates to hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or business administration. They should have completed relevant coursework, including accounting, math and statistics classes. Related experience also provides an advantage to job-seekers.
Most clerks receive on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced worker, who teaches them the company's processes and procedures. Training in specialized computer software may also be required.
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks may obtain certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Designation as a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) demonstrates that the clerk has the necessary skills to handle all bookkeeping functions, including balancing accounts and payroll. Candidates must have a minimum of two years of bookkeeping experience, comply with a code of ethics and pass a four-part exam. Some colleges and universities offer accounting certification and exam prep courses either on campus or online. Continuing education courses are also required for CBs to renew their certification.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
According to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 1.8 million jobs were held by bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks as of May 2009. They worked in all industries and levels of federal, state and local government, as well as in healthcare, educational services and in the tax preparation, payroll and bookkeeping services industries.
Job growth in this field is expected to be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Clerks who are able to perform many different bookkeeping and accounting activities will be in greater demand than those who specialize in one particular job. Certified Bookkeepers and those with relevant experience will have the best job opportunities.
The BLS reports that the median annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks was $33,450 as of May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $26,910 and $41,280. While the lowest 10% made about $21,280, the highest 10% brought in approximately $50,450 per year.