Accounting Clerk Job Description

Accounting and auditing clerks update and maintain financial records and accounts payable and receivable, keeping track of expenditures and revenue. Accounting clerks possess a wide range of skills from bookkeeping through managing the general ledger to tracking accounts payable and reconciling accounts receivable with invoices.

In smaller-size firms, accounting clerks may have responsibility for maintaining the general ledger which records all daily transactions. They post debits (expenditures) and credit (revenue). They may also prepare financial statements and reports for financial managers. Accounting clerks may also prepare bank deposits and handle payroll, prepare invoices, send cash and checks to the company’s bank, and monitor overdue accounts. Some accounting clerks also perform collections of unpaid bills.

In larger size companies, accounting clerks routinely handle more specialized tasks such as accounts payable or accounts receivable. Their duties may also vary by level of experience. Entry-level accounting clerks may post daily transactions, total accounts receivable or accounts payable, and monitor accounts to ensure that payments are current and calculate interest charges on those overdue. Experienced accounting clerks may total and reconcile billing vouchers with cost estimates, ensure the accuracy of financial records, and code financial documents according to company policy.

Auditing clerks (a specialized type of accounting clerk) verify transactions posted by other clerks. They examine all financial records to ensure they are accurate and properly coded. They also make note of any mistakes for accountants to correct.

Accounting clerks must be comfortable using computers as most accounting is performed using specialized financial software such as QuickBooks, as well as spreadsheets and databases. Most accounting clerks now input financial information into computers where it is stored electronically. The use of computers has enabled accounting clerks to take on more responsibilities such as payroll, purchasing, and billing.

Career Outlook

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth of jobs in the field is expected to be about 10 percent through the year 2018. It is estimated that there will be about 215,000 new jobs over the next decade. The large need for these workers in all industries ensures a good supply of job openings, as many accounting clerks are expected to retire or move to other occupations. Many accounting clerks continue their education to become accountants.

An increased need for financial oversight and reporting regulations, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards, will spur demand for these workers. In addition, an increased emphasis on transparency and accuracy of the financial records of large public firms will also increase demand.

Education and Training

Most accounting clerks must have a minimum of a high school diploma. However, to be most competitive, most entrants to the field are enrolling in formal coursework to obtain an associate’s degree in business or accounting studies. A bachelor’s degree is rarely required for this level of worker but a necessity for those who wish to become accountants. Once hired, accounting clerks receive on-the-job training under the guidance of a senior accounting clerk.

Coursework will include basic accounting, management accounting, introduction to finance, introduction to business law, business management, statistics, payroll systems and such bookkeeping software as QuickBooks.

Working as an accounting clerk is a great way to begin a career in accounting. In some cases, you may transfer the credits you earn as part of your associate’s degree into a four year program. Upon graduation you will be eligible to work as a full-fledged accountant with many career options.  Another advantage is that you can earn a salary while pursuing your bachelor’s and even have part of your tuition paid for by your employer via tuition reimbursement programs.

View a list of accounting programs in California >

Certification

There are no mandatory certification requirements to work as an accounting clerk in any state,  including California. However, many accounting clerks, especially those who oversee all recordkeeping for their firm, may find it valuable to become certified. The Certified Bookkeeper (B) credential, awarded by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, provides evidence that you have the knowledge and skills needed to perform a wide variety of accounting and bookkeeping functions, including payroll and reconciling accounts according to accepted accounting standards.

To become certified, candidates must have a minimum of two years experience as an accounting clerk, pass a four-part examination administered by a Prometric Test Center, and abide by a strict professional code of ethics. Certified accounting clerks and bookkeepers are also required to participate in continuing education every three years to maintain their certification.

For more information on certification procedures, visit http://www.aipb.org/certification_program.htm

An article in the International Auditing Report states that many employers value this certification since it professionalizes the field and ensures a higher standard of financial reporting—important in today’s world of increased financial scrutiny. To read the full article visit http://www.aipb.org/pdf/AIPB_IAR.pdf

Accounting Clerk Salary

The following are median earnings of accounting clerks at the entry level and with 5 years experience in select California cities.

CityEntry Level5 Years

City Entry 5 Years
Los Angeles $34,950 $42,825
Redwood City $38,197 $46,803
San Diego $33,078 $41,365
San Francisco $38,197 $46,765

View a list of accounting programs in California >