Pros and Cons of a Being a Clerical Aide
Clerical aides, or office clerks, perform a variety of clerical functions including things like filing, word processing, bookkeeping and answering phones. Find out the pros and cons of being a clerical aide to see if this job is for you!
|PROS of Being a Clerical Aide|
|Variety of opportunities changing with demand in businesses*|
|Slightly lower than average job growth in field (6% expected from 2012-2022)*|
|Temporary and part-time opportunities available*|
|Many businesses use clerical aides for all administrative support*|
|CONS of Being a Clerical Aide|
|Pay is average (median hourly wage was $13.78 as of May 2014)*|
|Some jobs are being eliminated due to expanding use of technology, automation and consolidation of duties*|
|Changing responsibilities may be stressful and require employees to adapt easily*|
|Training beyond high school might be required, particularly for advancement*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description and Duties
As a clerical aide, you perform diverse clerical duties using different office equipment, systems and procedures. You may take minutes at meetings, answer all incoming calls or perform bookkeeping entries for your employer. Your schedule might be full-time every weekday, or you might find temporary or part-time employment with a schedule that meets your employer's needs.
A clerical aide needs to be efficient in the use of office equipment like copy machines, fax machines, computer software and multi-line phone systems. Many employers will train you in their specific systems to ensure you are productive in your position.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014, there were 2,983,500 employed in the general office clerk occupation earning an average annual salary of $30,820 (www.bls.gov). At that time, the five top paying states for the occupation included the District of Columbia, Alaska, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Colorado, stated the BLS.
What Are the Requirements?
According to the BLS, you may qualify for entry-level employment with your high school diploma; however, training in the occupation is typically necessary. Many high schools, vocational schools and community colleges offer training programs in business and clerical skills. The BLS also reported most professional advancement opportunities require additional education like a degree, although you might advance as you gain experience and skills. Some helpful skills to this field include:
- Customer service skills
- Administrative and office skills
- Bookkeeping and mathematical ability
- Communication skills, verbal and written
- Organizational and time management skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
When looking for employment as a clerical aide, you might find that most employers will not require a degree or certificate in training, but a lot of jobs require some office experience. The duties vary by job opening. Here are some real job postings that were available for clerical aides in March 2012:
- A company in San Francisco, CA, is hiring clerical staff with at least one year of experience. The staffing agency would like people with filing, data entry, administrative or reception experience. The salary range is from $11.00-$14.00 per hour.
- A Tampa, FL, company seeks a clerical administrator to oversee incoming mail, filing, mailing, data entry and various other clerical duties. The job requires a high school diploma, and the company desires prior clerical experience. The salary range is from $10.00-$11.00 per hour.
- A Houston, TX, company is hiring an administrative/clerical employee to handle reports, data entry, filing, faxing, copying and administrative duties as assigned. The individual will also need to create Excel spreadsheets. A minimum of one year of office experience is required, along with proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. The pay for this position is $12.00 per hour.
How to Stand Out
Get a Clerical Educational Certificate
Many colleges offer certificate programs in the clerical field. You can typically complete 30-35 credit hours in areas like keyboarding, office procedures, communication, computer applications and document processes to gain your certificate of completion.
Get a Degree
There are also associate's degrees related to your career as a clerical aide. For instance, you can pursue an Associate of Arts in computer applications and office technologies, or some colleges offer specialties like clerical office assistant, medical office assistant or information processing in associate's degree or certificate programs.
Other Career Paths
You could take your clerical aide career in the direction of becoming a receptionist if you like dealing with people. Receptionists answer phone inquiries and greet visitors in most companies, and customer service is a large portion of this position. According to the BLS, there were about 974,000 receptionists employed in the nation, earning a mean annual wage of about $27,000 in May of 2011.
Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerk
Another career related to the clerical aide occupation that might appeal to you if you're good at math is that of a bookkeeping or accounting clerk. The BLS reported that in May of 2011 there were about 1,640,000 bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks employed in the U.S., earning an average of about $36,000 per year.
You could also become a secretary with the training and education preferred for advancement in the field. This job requires a higher level of administrative support, including things like drafting letters, maintaining schedules and scheduling appointments. In May 2010, there were 4,010,200 employed in the BLS occupation classification of secretaries and administrative assistants (except legal, medical and executive assistants), and their mean annual wage was close to $35,000 at that time.