Career Info for a Degree in Clerical Professions

Oct 03, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to pursue a clerical occupation. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling and job duties to find out if the clerical profession is for you.

There are several professions within the clerical field that vary from requiring a high school diploma and on-the-job training to a master's degree in business administration. Clerical careers include office clerks, administrative assistants and administrative support supervisors.

Essential Information

Educational requirements for clerical jobs range from a high school diploma up to a bachelor's or master's degree. Certifications are optional, but help as far as higher pay and advancement. Most clerical professionals attend community college or a technical school to learn the necessary skills for office work. Management positions require four-year degrees.

Careers Office Clerk Administrative Assistant Administrative Support Supervisor
Required Education high school diploma, on-the-job training high school diploma, technical school, certificate high school diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree in business administration for advancement, certificate
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -4% for general office clerks -7% for secretaries and administrative assistants 7% for administrative services managers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $32,730 $59,340 for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants $96,180 for administrative services managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Clerical professionals are organized, detail oriented, and good writers and communicators. They also interact well with staff and clients. Clerical jobs include office clerks, administrative assistants and administrative support supervisors.

Office Clerks

Employment opportunities for office clerks were expected to decline between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS. Individuals in this field earned a mean salary of $35,200 in May 2018, based on the BLS data.

General office clerks carry out common office tasks, including keyboarding, data entry, photocopying and answering phones. Some perform additional tasks that are unique to their employer; for example, a clerk in a doctor's office may submit insurance collection requests, while a clerk at a bank may assist in balancing customer deposit records.

Most employers expect clerks to have a working knowledge of common software applications such as word processing and spreadsheet programs, and office equipment like fax and copy machines. As office clerks gain experience, they may perform more complex duties such as account reconciliation and proofreading.

The basic educational requirements for most office clerk jobs are a high school diploma or its equivalent and some experience with common office software and office equipment. While not required, courses in computer applications such as word processing software can be helpful.

Administrative Assistants

Demand for secretaries and administrative assistants was projected to decline over the 2018-2028 decade, as reported by the BLS.

Figures from the BLS show secretaries and administrative assistants, in general, earned a mean annual income of $38,030 in 2018; meanwhile, executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants had a mean salary of $61,550 that year.

Administrative assistants, sometimes also known as secretaries, fulfill a wide variety of office support functions in businesses, medical offices, law firms and other settings. Someone in this position might manage and organize information and records, conduct research, type reports, create spreadsheets, prepare presentations, schedule appointments and make travel arrangements for executive staff. He or she may also interact with clients, patients or customers. The role of administrative assistants continues to evolve with advances in office technology.

Candidates for these positions need a high school diploma or GED certificate and should be familiar with office equipment and basic software. Good oral and written communication skills are also important. While a postsecondary degree is not a requirement, individuals may find training programs at community colleges that offer appropriate coursework in business, office management and communication. Some employers, such as those in legal and medical fields, may require knowledge of industry-specific practices and terminology. Community and technical/vocational schools often offer instructional programs in these areas.

Administrative Support Supervisor

Administrative support supervisors might also be called administrative support managers. Data from the BLS indicates an increase faster than average in jobs within the field is predicted over the years from 2018 to 2028. The BLS' salary statistics show a mean income of $106,050, for administrative service managers in 2018.

Administrative support supervisors oversee the work of other administrative support workers, such as office clerks. They perform a variety of tasks, such as developing and implementing procedures, training new employees, establishing employee performance standards, evaluating employee performance, resolving problems and meeting with management staff. Some administrative supervisor jobs are offered to clerical workers who have improved their skill set and proven their abilities over time.

The BLS states that most jobs in this field require some form of postsecondary education, work experience or an associate degree. Some employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Courses in office management, public administration or business can be helpful.

Certification Options

Though no certification is offered for office clerks, administrative assistants and administrative support supervisors can pursue voluntary certification through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAPP). This organization offers the Certified Administrative Professional designation, designed to demonstrate basic administration, office systems, and management and technology skills. The IAAP also offers testing and certification in commonly used computer software, such as the Microsoft Office Suite.

For individuals interested in becoming legal secretaries, the National Association for Legal Professionals offers several levels of voluntary certification through an exam. Available certifications include Accredited Legal Professional, Professional Legal Secretary and Professional Paralegal.

It is possible to begin a career as an office clerk with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Postsecondary training is required for a career as an administrative assistant or administrative support supervisor. According to the BLS, of these three professions administrative support supervisors will experience the highest rate of job growth from 2018 to 2028 and they also receive the highest median salary, at $96,180 per year.

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