Becoming a General Office Clerk
General office clerks may work for corporations, schools, hospitals, or non-profit organizations. Duties can include filing and faxing documents, photocopying, answering telephones, managing office inventory, and entering data. However, tasks can vary based on the type of office a clerk works in and his or her experience level. General office clerks may spend many work hours seated at a desk and looking at a computer screen.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or its equivalent; certificate programs available|
|Training||On-the-job training is common|
|Licensure and Certification||None required, though voluntary certification is helpful|
|Experience||Some experience performing secretarial or administrative duties preferred|
|Key Skills||Excellent communication skills; customer service skills; ability to organize; strong attention to detail; Microsoft Word, Excel, and word processing software; ability to type quickly|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$29,580 (for general office clerks)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings, May 2016.
Step 1: Graduate High School
The first step to becoming a general office clerk is to graduate high school, as a high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required. Some high schools offer business education courses, and aspiring general office clerks should take advantage of these programs if they're offered. Classes in basic computer technology, word processing, and general office practices are particularly helpful.
Step 2: Complete a Certificate Course
Although not required, aspiring clerks might prepare for this career by completing general office clerk certificate programs. Such programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools and tend to last one academic quarter or semester. Courses could include keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets, and business communications.
Prospective office clerks should also gain customer service experience. Many general office clerks interact with the public on a daily basis. Working jobs that require interaction with customers can help prepare one to become a general office clerk. Learning Microsoft Word and Excel can also be beneficial. General office clerks frequently use Word and Excel. Individuals who aren't proficient with these programs may benefit from taking computer classes.
Step 3: On-the-Job Training
Whether an office clerk has a high school diploma or a certificate, on-the-job training is the most common route to becoming a general office clerk. Most on-the-job training typically lasts one month or less. General office clerks are trained in areas such as using office equipment and computer software programs, depending on the responsibilities of their particular positions.
Step 4: Advancement Opportunities
General office clerks may consider career advancement to become receptionists, secretaries, or administrative assistants after gaining the necessary skills and work experience. Some office clerks may advance to supervisory positions after demonstrating strong communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills. Earning a college degree can help with advancement. Advancement to professional positions usually requires a college degree, according to the BLS.
General office clerks do not require any formal postsecondary education; however, a certificate program can help you gain necessary skills, and additional schooling may be necessary for advancement.