General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.

Duties

General office clerks typically do the following:

  • Answer and transfer telephone calls or take messages
  • Sort and deliver incoming mail and send outgoing mail
  • Schedule appointments and receive customers or visitors
  • Provide general information to staff, clients, or the public
  • Type, format, or edit routine memos or other reports
  • Copy, file, and update paper and electronic documents
  • Prepare and process bills and other office documents
  • Collect information and perform data entry

Rather than performing a single specialized task, general office clerks have responsibilities that often change daily with the current needs of the employer.

Some clerks file documents or answer phones; others enter data into computers or perform other tasks using software applications. They also frequently use photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, and other office equipment.

The specific duties assigned to clerks will depend on the type of office in which they work. For example, a general office clerk at a college or university may process application materials and answer questions from prospective students, while a clerk at a hospital may file and retrieve medical records.

Work Environment

General office clerks usually work in office settings. General office clerks held about 3.1 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of general office clerks were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance12%
Educational services; state, local, and private12
Government9
Administrative and support services9
Professional, scientific, and technical services9

What are the Typical Skills and Education Required to be an Office Clerk?

Education

General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Courses in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software, may be helpful for those who aren’t already familiar with them.

Training

General office clerks usually learn their skills while on the job. Their training typically lasts up to one month and may include instructions on office procedures, proper phone etiquette, and the use of office equipment.

Advancement

General office clerks may advance to other administrative positions with more responsibility, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

Advancement opportunities often depend on work experience.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. General office clerks often provide general information to company staff, customers, or the public. They should be courteous and prompt with their responses.

Detail oriented. General office clerks perform many clerical tasks that require attention to detail, such as preparing bills.

Organizational skills. General office clerks file and retrieve records. They need to keep records organized to be able to access them quickly and efficiently.

How Much Do Office Clerks Earn?

The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $15.74 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.84, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.73.

In May 2018, the median hourly wages for general office clerks in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government$17.60
Professional, scientific, and technical services16.22
Healthcare and social assistance15.55
Educational services; state, local, and private14.63
Administrative and support services14.54

Most general office clerks work full time but some work part time.


National Averages for General Office Clerks

2018 Median Pay$32,730 per year 
$15.74 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job TrainingShort-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 20163,117,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26-1% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2016-26-31,800

*Salary info from US Bureau of Labor and Statistics