Are you someone who enjoys numbers, logic, and problem solving? Then an accounting clerk position may be right for you.
Accounting clerks are found in businesses of all sizes and types, with opportunities nearly everywhere — in government, health care, manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and beyond. Furthermore, additional education and on-the-job experience as an accounting clerk can lead to advanced opportunities in this versatile field.
Why pursue a career as an accounting clerk?
Depending on the industry, accounting clerk job descriptions can vary — which means you can expect to find a diverse selection of openings throughout your career path. Listed below are some of the benefits this career can offer.
Low barrier to entry with opportunities for advancement
One of the great things about working as an accounting clerk is that, in some cases, no degree or work experience is required to get your foot in the door. Also, entry-level jobs often offer on-the-job training. These low barriers to entry, combined with additional education, can lead to opportunities for advancement.
Accounting clerks are vital to virtually every industry, including government, tax preparation, bookkeeping, finance, manufacturing, and more. You’ll have a broad range of options to choose from, depending on the specific needs and available openings in your area.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the field of accounting will grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029, so now is a great time to start in the profession through an entry-level role such as accounting clerk. Plus, accounting not only involves many different positions, it can transition across different industries. That means the potential for upward mobility is promising for professionals who complete higher levels of education.
Accounting clerk education and qualifications
Accounting clerk education requirements are relatively minimal. Accounting clerks generally aren’t required to have a degree, though some postsecondary education is usually necessary, according to the BLS.
To advance in the field of accounting, additional education is necessary. Accountant and auditor positions generally require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some employers prefer candidates with a master’s.
Depending on the position, certification may also be necessary. Becoming licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. To maintain their license, CPAs must also take continuing education courses.
Salary for accounting clerks
Compared to some other entry-level jobs, accounting clerks earn a relatively high salary. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accounting clerks was $42,410 in 2020, which is slightly higher than the average salary across all occupations.
With the appropriate experience and additional education, accounting clerks can advance within the field to become accountants or auditors. The median salary for accountants was $73,560 in 2020, according to the BLS.
Industry trends for accounting clerks
Here’s a quick look at trends in this industry, according to Burning Glass Technologies.
As compliance functions become increasingly automated, employers will look for individuals who can handle higher processing volume with fewer errors. This will empower accounting professionals to streamline tedious tasks such as data entry and focus on job aspects that can’t be handled through artificial intelligence (AI), such as identifying areas for efficiency gains.
With the rise in cloud computing and increased opportunities for remote teams, there will be a greater emphasis on ensuring data security. As an accounting clerk, you may be directly responsible for taking care of client and company data and enforcing security operations.
Through the use of blockchain technology, transactions that used to take hours or days to update will now be ready in seconds. This leads to greater security and transparency, and can make accounting tasks such as auditing, compliance, and regulation faster and more accurate.
With more companies relying on remote teams to manage daily operations, distance working opportunities are on the rise. With that independence comes responsibility; self-motivated workers who need little in the way of oversight (such as accounting clerks) will be increasingly in demand.
Areas of opportunity for accounting clerks
Some of the most popular industries for accounting clerks are:
Professional, scientific, and technical services
The versatility of the accounting clerk role
With the field of accounting expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2019, the accounting clerk role provides a versatile entry-level position for individuals who are looking to get their foot in the door. Plus, upward mobility is possible for individuals who have additional education. What follows are some of the opportunities available, along with estimated salaries based on level of experience.
Entry-level opportunities that include clerical accounting tasks can require some college experience. For these jobs, on-the-job training is usually provided. The following lists some example roles along with their median 2020 salary according to the BLS.
Bank teller: $32,620
Administrative assistant: $40,990
Financial clerk: $41,520
Advanced job opportunities
Upper-level jobs in the accounting field typically require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. A few of these include:
Budget analyst: $78,970
Accountant or auditor: $73,560
Cost estimator: $66,610
Loan officer: $63,960
How to become an accounting clerk
Though you typically don’t need a college degree, aspiring accounting clerks should have some form of postsecondary education, particularly coursework in accounting. You’ll gain valuable experience through on-the-job training, usually under the guidance of a more senior employee, and some formal classroom training may also be necessary.
In addition to basic math and computer skills, there are a number of other skills you’ll want to hone to become an accounting clerk.
Top skills and digital tools for accounting clerks
Many of the fastest growing, in-demand skills for accountants are daily job functions for clerks. Below are skills projected to grow in demand by over 10% from 2018 to 2023, according to research from Burning Glass Technologies.
Internships are available to build your resume prior to seeking paid accounting opportunities. Often, these internships are found in small to medium-size companies where you can specialize in bookkeeping, tax preparation, invoices, and other duties. At large companies, interns may learn to use specialized accounting software. Many companies offer accounting internships. Some of the larger ones include:
For future accounting clerks, there are many professional associations to join. Many of these specialize in particular niches, such as auditing, while others focus on sectors such as small to medium-size businesses. Associations can offer a variety of benefits including certifications, training, and networking opportunities, which could be helpful in finding a new job. Here are some of the associations to look into if you’re interested in an accounting clerk role.
As the U.S. economy continues to grow, accounting clerks will continue to be in demand. It will be important for companies to understand, prepare, and analyze financial records to ensure their long-term health and maintain compliance with ever-changing financial standards.
While other professions may see decreases in their workforce during economic changes, the accounting industry tends to remain stable, as there is always a need to handle financial documentation and related tasks.
Even with the rise in technology and automation that is expected to impact the industry, a growing variety of opportunities continue to be available for accounting clerks and other accounting professionals.