Should I Become a Municipal Clerk?
Municipal clerks handle a variety of duties related to city business, such as taking meeting minutes, supervising elections and managing municipal records. They interact with the public on a daily basis and prepare meeting notices and packets for city council and public use. The job can be stressful, since clerks may deal with demanding customers or council members, and patience and tact are important attributes.
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|Education Level||High school diploma is common; undergraduate degree may be preferred|
|Degree Field||Public administration, political science or related|
|Key Skills||People, communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to demonstrate discretion; ability to navigate the software used for clerical, administration, accounting, personnel and personal service duties|
|Salary (2015)||$41,716 (median for city clerks)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job listings from employers (November 2012), O*Net Online, PayScale.com.
Step 1: Complete Education Requirements
While a municipal clerk's exact educational requirements and job duties may vary depending on municipality size and type, students can benefit from pursuing a degree. Students may consider associate's or bachelor's degree programs in related areas, such as public administration and political science. Degree programs in these areas can provide students with foundational knowledge in historical and contemporary politics and municipal, regional, state and federal government. Students can also consider programs that will help them develop skills related to human resources administration, city planning, municipal budgeting and public information management.
- Develop strong communication skills. Municipal clerks are expected to communicate with the public and other officials frequently in their work. For this reason, students may benefit from completing courses in public speaking.
- Complete an internship. Many bachelor's degree programs allow students to complete internships to gain experience and academic credit in the field. Students may consider interning at a court or government agency to gain field-specific experience.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Employers typically look for municipal clerks with related professional experience. Related areas, such as payroll or general office administration, can provide this experience. Experience in duties like following company procedure, completing administrative work and requesting information from law offices can also be beneficial.
- Earn professional certification. Obtaining credentials like the Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks can help demonstrate an understanding of the position and increase job prospects.
Step 3: Obtain Entry-Level Employment
Entry-level work allows municipal clerks to become experienced in all relevant job functions, such as taking minutes of town meetings, keeping records of municipal information, administering licenses for use of public property and preparing public reports on community activities. Municipal clerks are also responsible for numerous administrative duties, such as drafting correspondence involving elected officials and entering matters of public record into town or citywide information systems.
Exact job duties may vary somewhat depending on the size of the municipality by which a clerk is employed. Clerks working in small towns often handle all municipal matters, such as license distribution and court date scheduling. Larger cities may have separate clerks for courts and license-related matters, leaving municipal clerks in charge mainly of public administration duties like the ones described above.
Step 4: Consider Obtaining an Advanced Education
After completing an undergraduate degree program and gaining work experience, many municipal clerks pursue master's degrees in public policy or public administration to advance their careers. Political science master's degree programs may also be of interest to those looking to ascend to elected posts.