What is Accounting?

Accounting is the comprehensive and systematic recording of financial transactions. Accounting involves analyzing, summarizing, and reporting transactions to regulators and tax collection entities. Accounting professionals review the financial statements of large and small companies. Bookkeepers and accounting clerks typically handle accounting tasks in small businesses, and accountants and controllers generally perform accounting functions in large organizations.

Cost accounting and management accounting professionals help management make informed financial decisions. Bookkeepers and accounting clerks perform basic accounting tasks, while certified accountants manage more complex issues. Accounting professionals create financial statements and regulate cash flow for companies, and professionals in the field follow financial accounting processes to generate monthly and quarterly reports.

What is an Accounting Clerk?

Accounting clerks typically work in office environments. They need knowledge of accounts payable and receivable to work with both customers and vendors. These professionals organize documents and apply credits and debits to accounts, while verifying codes to ensure accuracy. One of the primary responsibilities of accounting clerks is balancing financial entries and making corrections as needed.

What Does an Accounting Clerk Do?

Accounting clerks classify, compute, and record numerical data to accurately complete financial records and conduct routine calculations to verify data figures. These professionals work with programmed computers and use accounting software to store, record, and analyze data and information. They must follow federal, state, and company procedures, policies, and regulations to maintain compliance. Accounting clerks record and receive cash, checks, and vouchers for banks and financial institutions.

Accounting clerks record and receive cash, checks, and vouchers for banks and financial institutions.

Accounting clerks are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of figures and documents, so they need strong technological skills in various types of software. These professionals often use accounting software like Intuit QuickBooks, fund accounting software, and Sage 50 Accounting tax software. Accounting clerks must also be comfortable using compliance software and database user interface and query software, including Microsoft Access. Additionally, accounting clerks should understand how to use software for financial analysis and enterprise resource planning.

These clerks also need strong mathematical, problem-solving, and communication skills. Accounting clerks must be proficient in active listening, giving their undivided attention to coworkers and clients to provide effective responses and solutions to issues. These professionals also use critical-thinking skills to troubleshoot problems and maintain efficiency.

Responsible for balancing entries and making corrections as needed, accounting clerks work with various financial documents. They sort documents and post debits and credits to accounts. These professionals also handle reconciliations to bank statements, along with department records.

Accounting clerks can work in various industries. However, the professional, scientific, and technical services industry employs the most accounting clerks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other common industries for accounting clerks include finance and insurance and retail trade and wholesale trade industries. Additionally, accounting clerks can specialize in tax preparation, bookkeeping, or payroll services.

Accounting clerks complete most of their tasks individually, but they occasionally work with other accountants and managers from other departments. While most accounting clerks work in an office environment and follow a standard full-time schedule, they may visit clients' places of business.

Accounting clerks need a strong attention to detail in order to minimize mistakes and maximize quality.

The skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as an accounting clerk are also applicable to roles as brokerage clerks; legal secretaries; payroll and timekeeping clerks; tax preparers; and billing, cost, and rate clerks. These financial professionals all conduct administrative and clerical tasks to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of their company.

Accounting clerks need a strong attention to detail in order to minimize mistakes and maximize quality. Accounting clerks should be flexible and adaptable to manage workplace variety. Additionally, accounting clerks should be dependable and cooperative so coworkers and managers can rely on them.

What Are the Responsibilities of an Accounting Clerk?

Adjusting Records

Accounting clerks review and analyze their company's financial records, documenting any issues, creating solutions, and implementing methods to prevent further issues. After identifying an issue, clerks make the necessary adjustments.

Sorting Documents

These professionals work with a variety of financial documents. Accounting clerks must regularly sort through documents to maintain organization and ensure their company and clients are following their financial plans.

Verifying Accuracy of Financial Statements

Accounting clerks review financial statements to ensure the accuracy of data, figures, and information. They must pay close attention to detail, noting all elements that should be present and ensuring adherence to laws and regulations.

Working with Computers

Accounting clerks conduct much of their work using computers. These professionals use accounting software, financial analysis software, compliance software, database user interface and query software, and enterprise resource planning software.

Compliance

Accounting clerks must ensure their clients and companies adhere to all applicable laws and regulations. To verify compliance, accounting clerks must be aware of any laws affecting their clients and employers.

Operate Accounting Tools

These clerks work with a variety of accounting tools, including 10-key calculators, copy machines, and typewriters. These tools help clerks produce documents and make calculations.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Accounting Clerk?

Education

High School Diploma Accounting clerks must hold at least a high school diploma.
Postsecondary Certificate Some employers require or prefer accounting clerks to obtain an accounting or bookkeeping certificate from a community college or university.

Skills

Communication Accounting clerks must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with other company employees.
Mathematics Accounting clerks conduct a variety of computations and must be comfortable using math to solve problems.
Critical Thinking Accounting professionals must use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems.
Data Management Professionals regularly work with data and numerical figures, so they must be able to effectively organize and manage information.

Abilities

Mathematical Reasoning Accounting clerks must be able to choose the right mathematical formulas and methods to solve a problem.
Comprehension Accounting professionals apply both written and oral comprehension to daily tasks.
Written Expression Accounting clerks must be able to express themselves clearly in writing, especially in email correspondence.

Knowledge

Economics and Accounting These clerks must understand all elements of accounting to effectively conduct their job responsibilities.
Mathematics Accounting positions require strong knowledge of algebra, statistics, calculus, and arithmetic.
Customer and Personal Service Professionals must carry out personal services, including connecting with clients and coworkers.
Clerical Accounting clerks must understand administrative and clerical procedures, including designing forms and managing files and records.
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How are Accounting Clerks Employed?

Accounting clerks can work in a variety of industries, but the largest number of accounting clerks work in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry. Accounting clerks also commonly work in the retail trade, wholesale trade, healthcare and social assistance, and finance and insurance industries. These professionals typically work in office settings, and they occasionally meet with clients at their place of business.

Accounting clerks primarily work independently, but they sometimes collaborate with managers, accountants, and auditing clerks in other departments. These professionals usually work full-time schedules. Clerks sometimes work additional hours during busy times, such as the end of the fiscal year, tax season, and monthly and annual accounting audit periods. Technological advances can impact the role of accounting clerks.

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Professional Organizations for Accounting Clerks