On-the-job training generally focuses on the use of office equipment and computer software. In some cases, clerical workers may be trained by outside vendors. The duration of on-the-job clerical training programs varies from one employer to another.
While a formal college degree is not always necessary to gain a clerical position, a one- to two- year vocational certificate or two-year associate's degree program in office administration can be helpful. Several community and technical colleges across the United States offer these types of programs both in class and on online.
Office Administration Certificate
A secretarial, office administration or receptionist certificate program typically provides the curriculum needed to develop clerical skills. These programs are usually completed in one year or less. Students have the option of specializing in a certain area, such as legal, medical, administrative and customer service. Topics addressed in these programs include:
- Business English
- Business math
- Word processing
- Office machines
- Computer applications
Associate's in Office Administration
Aspiring clerical workers may also choose to pursue a two-year degree in office administration. These programs result in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Applied Business (AAB) degree. Clerical coursework includes:
- Office management
- Office procedures
- Business communications
- Document processing
- Business writing
Popular Career Options
Individuals equipped with clerical skills may find employment as a court clerk, municipal clerk, administrative office clerk, medical office clerk, library clerk and more.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
As of May 2015, receptionists and information clerks made a median annual salary of $27,300. The job outlook for information clerks from 2014-2024 is expected to grow 2%, which slower than average when compared to all other occupations.
No license or certification is required to be a clerical worker; however, voluntary certifications to show proficiency in a variety of clerical skills are available by some nonprofit organizations representing specific types of clerical workers. For example, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) offers two clerical credentials, the Certified Municipal Clerk and Master Municipal Clerk.
Other certifications for clerical workers include the Certified Professional Secretary and the Certified Administrative Professional from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) also provides a credential to clerical workers offering services as independent contractors. This Certified Virtual Assistant certification reflects an individual's skills in word processing, bookkeeping, typing and other clerical areas.
The American Management Association (AMA) hosts several seminars in office and administrative support each year. These seminars address several clerical topics, including communication skills, business writing, project management and accounting. The IAAP provides workshops, one-day live seminars and Web-based seminars focusing on the development of clerical skills.
Clerical training can be completed through on-the-job training, vocational certificate programs or associate's degree programs. While formal college programs are not typically required, they can help and provide valuable skills and experience.