Accounting and auditing clerks play an important role in the daily administration of finance and payroll departments across the country. These professionals often work alongside senior accountants and auditors to ensure that financial documents, files and ledgers are accurate. Additionally, accounting and auditing clerks regularly process invoices, expenses, payroll and other financial transactions.
As of 2020, approximately 1.67 million people were employed as clerks performing accounting, auditing and other bookkeeping functions for businesses and other organizations. Accounting and auditing clerks can be found in nearly every industrial and business sector since all businesses keep, maintain and analyze financial records.
The primary employment sectors for accounting and auditing clerks as of 2018 were:
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Finance and insurance
- Wholesale trade
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Retail trade
Regardless of the specific industry that an accounting or auditing clerk chooses to work in, there is a general job description applicable to all. An understanding of basic accounting principles is often the most important skill that accounting clerks can possess.
Each company will have their own policies and internal accounting procedures for reporting and analyzing financial data. Clerks that have an basic understanding of generally accepted accounting and auditing principles will a strong foundational understanding in place on which to build additional skills specific to their companies’ particular internal accounting methods.
Accounting and auditing clerks should also have a basic understanding of information technology, as companies rely on sophisticated bookkeeping software and accounting information systems for managing their financial information. While it is usually not necessary for clerks to have an advanced understanding of the specific accounting or auditing software and systems used, they will be expected to learn these systems on the job.
General Accounting and Auditing Clerk Duties
The scope of an accounting clerk’s job duties often depends upon the size of the company or organization that he works for. For example, small businesses tend to hire “general bookkeepers” to handle all of the financial business transactions and record keeping requirements of the business. Essentially, a bookkeeper will perform audits, send out invoices, process payments, issue payroll checks and deal with tax issues on behalf of the company.
In large corporations, organizations and governmental agencies, each accounting clerk will take on a more specialized role within the accounting department. For example, an auditing clerk will only be required to handle matters that are relevant to making sure that company records are accurate and compliant with local, state and federal laws. This can contrasted against the duties of a payroll clerk, which would be to deal only with matters relevant to the issuance of employee paychecks and payroll taxation.
Each company will differ with regards to the scope of duties that they expect their accounting clerks to perform. However, the trend leans toward generalized duties in smaller companies that have fewer resources and that don’t require a full accounting department, and more focused duties for larger corporations and government agencies that would have more sophisticated accounting needs and greater resources.
Specific Duties For Accounting Clerks
The specific duties that an accounting clerk is responsible for performing depend largely upon the specific role that the clerk is assigned within a business organization. Some accounting clerks are expected to take on specific duties in payroll, auditing and accounts receivable/payable departments, while others are responsible for general bookkeeping tasks. Those duties may include:
- Updating and maintaining accounting records
- Calculating and entering expenditures
- Creating financial reports from company databases
- Managing financial records, accounts and ledgers
Specific Duties For Auditing Clerks
Accounting clerks that participate in the auditing function of a business, either exclusively or as a part of general bookkeeping obligations, have specific duties that they must perform. Some of the typical duties of an auditing clerk include:
- Verifying records and financial statements created by other employees
- Reviewing accounting records and financial data to check for accuracy
- Correcting or noting errors within accounting records
- Processing invoices and payments
- Compiling financial data and creating a variety of reports
- Ensuring compliance with company policies and the law
As you can see from the list of individual duties, the main objective of an auditing clerk is to assist in the process of making sure that a business’s financial records are accurate and that the all records comply with company policies and legal regulations.
Education and Training
As the job market becomes more competitive, a greater number of accounting and auditing clerk applicants are seeking associate degrees in accounting, auditing, office management, finance, bookkeeping and business operations. Additionally, while a bachelor’s degree is generally not required for accounting and auditing clerk positions, many graduates are seeking out accounting clerk positions with companies that they wish to grow and seek promotions with.
Online and campus based colleges and universities offer accounting and auditing clerk certificate programs. In general, a certificate candidate who chooses to enroll in one of these programs does not need to have prior accounting experience. The certification is usually awarded after candidates successfully complete coursework in several subjects such as: accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, as well as accounting software and information systems.
The American Institute of Bookkeepers (AIPB) is a nationally recognized professional association that offers the Certified Bookkeeper Designation (CB) to qualified candidates. In order to qualify for the designation, you must have at least two years of professional accounting experience in accounting, bookkeeping, finance or a related field. Once you meet the minimum qualifications, you will be required to pass a 4-part exam that covers topics including:
- Adjusting entries
- Error correction
- Internal controls and fraud prevention
The exam series is further broken down into two main sections. The first two portions of the exam must be taken at one of the 300 Prometric Testing centers that are located nationwide. The remaining two sections are open-book format and can be taken online your convenience.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for accounting, auditing and bookkeeping clerks was $42,410 as of 2020, while the top ten percent earned more than $63,900 that year.
The most common employment industries for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks that year were (median salary):
- Professional Services – $44,420
- Finance and Insurance – $44,140
- Wholesale – $43,370
- Health Care and Social Assistance – $41,100
- Retail – $37,230
May 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and labor market information for Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks is based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2021.