A Billing Clerk Career: Pros and Cons
If you don't want to continue your education immediately after finishing high school, you may want to consider becoming a billing clerk. Employers generally train billing clerks on-the-job. Before becoming a billing clerk, you should look into the pros and cons of this career to see if it is right for you.
|PROS of a Career as a Billing Clerk|
|Only needs a high school diploma*|
|Above average job outlook (18% increase in jobs from 2012-2022)*|
|Good salary (median yearly wage of $34,410)*|
|Work in a variety of office settings*|
|CONS of a Career as a Billing Clerk|
|Low entry-level wages (lowest 10% earned $24,090)*|
|Employer may require candidate to have knowledge of industry-specific software*|
|Maybe only part-time work will be available (16% in 2010)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
As a billing clerk, you will work in the office of a commercial, private or nonprofit business. You are responsible for recording, computing and compiling various types of statistical or accounting data. It is your job to keep track of who owes money to the business, as well as how much. You calculate, create and mail customers' invoices. You may also be required to check purchases and calculate charges and fees. Your job may include contacting customers to obtain missing information or to resolve disputes. Depending on the office, you may work entirely with a computer or use billing and calculating machines.
Career Prospects and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that billing and posting clerks made a median salary of $34,410 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Clerks in the 25th to 75th percentile earned from $28,350 to $41,180 per year. The highest paid billing clerks worked in the railroad transportation industry and earned an average wage of $46,240 per year. The BLS predicted that jobs for posting and billing clerks were anticipated to grow by 18% from 2012-2022.
What Are the Requirements?
The BLS stated that a billing clerk needs to have at least a high school diploma, which should be sufficient for an entry-level position. Usually an employer provides on-the-job training for any additional information or training that is important to the job. A job as a billing clerk requires math, computer, communication and organizational skills.
What Employers Are Looking For
Most employers advertising for a billing clerk seek candidates with a high school diploma, although some employers may specify an associate's degree as an education requirement. Advertised positions generally have other associated duties, including dealing with customers' inquiries or complaints. Good computer skills and competency in various accounting applications, such as QuickBooks or an industry-related application, is often a requirement as well. Here are three job postings taken from an online job board in March 2012.
- A telecommunications company in Florida was looking for a billing clerk to take on all administrative and billing duties, including faxing, filing, copying, invoicing and tracking.
- A company in the transportation industry in Colorado required a billing clerk with customer service, computer and invoicing skills and experience in TMW Truckmate and QuickBooks.
- A printing/publishing company in Idaho required a billing clerk to invoice customers and resolve any billing inquiries.
How to Stand out
While the educational requirements for this field are minimal, you may want to consider earning a certificate or an associate degree in accounting. Learning the basics of accounting may give you an edge when applying for a position. Since many job ads specify that a candidate needs accounting experience or experience with accounting software, this could help you stand out when compared to other applicants.
Keep Computer Skills Up-to-Date
Job ads often request that candidates have skills or are proficient in certain software applications. It's also important to increase and keep your computer skills up-to-date. For example, if you use Excel in your work, take classes to learn advanced functions of the program. Opportunities are also available to learn new applications related to the industry.
Learn Another Language
Learning a second language, such as Spanish, and becoming fluent can be beneficial. You may increase your employability if you can help clients who do not speak English. Job ads may include a requirement that candidates speak a language other than English.
Know Your Clients
Many employers for billing clerks look for candidates who have strong communication and customer service skills. Getting to know key individuals working for your company's clients may help you stand out. In the event of problems, you will know what department to call and how to resolve the situation more quickly.
Other Careers to Consider
If you are willing to spend more time in school to earn a bachelor's degree, you could work to become an accountant. Accountants offer financial advice and prepare statements for businesses and organizations. In addition to handling taxes, accountants also make recommendations about budgetary concerns and how to improve profits. According to BLS, accountants made a median wage of $62,900 per year in 2011. The employment outlook for accountants was 16% from 2010-2020.
A loan officer meets with applicants who want to apply for a loan. The officer helps the client fill out an application and then fact checks all of the information provided. Based on the information, the loan officer will approve or deny the loan. While the BLS reports that a high school diploma may be sufficient to work as a loan officer, you may need a bachelor's degree to work with commercial loans. Professionals in this field earned a median wage of $58,000 per year in 2011, and employment for a loan officer was anticipated to increase 14% from 2010-2020, according to BLS.