An accounting clerk does a number of tasks that are necessary for keeping a business or organization’s finances organized. Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks are administrative support professionals who handle some responsibilities related to accounting and finance.
An Accounting Clerk’s Job Responsibilities
Accounting and bookkeeping clerks handle tasks such as recording financial transactions. They use bookkeeping software, databases and spreadsheets to keep track of income and expenses. The roles of accounting clerk, bookkeeping clerk and auditing clerk are similar enough that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies the positions as one career path, but there are differences between these jobs. What an accounting clerk does may vary substantially from one organization and department to another. Accounting clerks may handle specialized roles and have more descriptive job descriptions to fit those roles. Bookkeeping clerks, otherwise known simply as bookkeepers, focus mainly on keeping the organization’s accounts of financial transactions, up to date and keeping track of payroll and bills. Auditing clerks check the accuracy of financial records.
Bookkeeping clerks handle some tasks that are similar to an accountant’s roles, including reviewing financial documents to make sure they are accurate. However, what an accounting clerk does fits more accurately into an administrative support role than a business and finance role. They oversee the administrative aspects of organizing and running financial reports. Their role is generally to keep financial data organized, rather than to analyze it for ways to improve profits or reduce expenses. Accounting clerks spend much of their time recording financial transactions and handling records such as accounts payable and accounts receivable invoices.
The Differences Between Accounting Clerk and Accountant
Despite some similarities between the career paths, an accounting clerk does not have the same earning potential as an accountant. Accounting clerks earn a median annual salary of $37,250, compared to the $67,190 median salary for accountants, the BLS reported.
One reason for the sharp difference in wages is the education and skills necessary to attain each job. While accountants need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field – and, if they want to become a certified public accountant, a fifth year of full-time studies – bookkeeping clerks often learn on-the-job. Some postsecondary education is helpful for auditing clerks, especially in subjects like math and computers, but it’s possible to attain this position with only a high school diploma, according to the BLS. In this instance, having a college education can substantially increase your earning power.
In many ways, accounting clerk is a very different job than accountant. While the position doesn’t require the same commitment to education, it also doesn’t come with the same salary or prestige. However, an accounting or bookkeeping clerk role might be an excellent job for aspiring accountants. The work an accounting clerk does can expose aspiring accountants to the responsibilities of handling financial documents early on as well as give them the chance to put their mathematics and computer skills to work.