Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Summary

bookkeeping accounting and auditing clerks image
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations.
Quick Facts: Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
2015 Median Pay $37,250 per year
$17.91 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Some college, no degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 1,760,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -8% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -148,700

What Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks Do

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.

Work Environment

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work in offices and may do site visits. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2014.

How to Become a Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk

Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need some postsecondary education and also learn some of their skills on the job. They must have basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.

Pay

The median annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $37,250 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is projected to decline 8 percent from 2014 to 2024. Technological change is expected to reduce demand for these workers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks Do About this section

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
As organizations continue to computerize their financial records, many bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need to use specialized accounting software, spreadsheets, and databases.

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.

Duties

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks typically do the following:

  • Use bookkeeping software, online spreadsheets, and databases
  • Enter (post) financial transactions into the appropriate computer software
  • Receive and record cash, checks, and vouchers
  • Put costs (debits) and income (credits) into the software, assigning each to an appropriate account
  • Produce reports, such as balance sheets (costs compared with income), income statements, and totals by account
  • Check for accuracy in figures, postings, and reports
  • Reconcile or note and report any differences they find in the records

The records that bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work with include expenditures (money spent), receipts (money that comes in), accounts payable (bills to be paid), accounts receivable (invoices, or what other people owe the organization), and profit and loss (a report that shows the organization’s financial health).

Workers in this occupation have a wide range of tasks. Some are full-charge bookkeeping clerks who maintain an entire organization’s books. Others are accounting clerks who handle specific tasks.

These clerks use basic mathematics (adding, subtracting) throughout the day.

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks use specialized computer accounting software, spreadsheets, and databases to enter information from receipts or bills. They must be comfortable using computers to record and calculate data.

The widespread use of computers also has enabled bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks to take on additional responsibilities, such as payroll, billing, purchasing (buying), and keeping track of overdue bills. Many of these functions require clerks to communicate with clients.

Bookkeeping clerks, also known as bookkeepers, often are responsible for some or all of an organization’s accounts, known as the general ledger. They record all transactions and post debits (costs) and credits (income).

They also produce financial statements and other reports for supervisors and managers. Bookkeepers prepare bank deposits by compiling data from cashiers, verifying receipts, and sending cash, checks, or other forms of payment to the bank.

In addition, they may handle payroll, make purchases, prepare invoices, and keep track of overdue accounts.

Accounting clerks typically work for larger companies and have more specialized tasks. Their titles, such as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk, often reflect the type of accounting they do.

The responsibilities of accounting clerks frequently vary by level of experience. Entry-level accounting clerks may post details of transactions (including date, type, and amount), add up accounts, and determine interest charges. They also may monitor loans and accounts to ensure that payments are up to date.

More advanced accounting clerks may add and balance billing vouchers, ensure that account data are complete and accurate, and code documents according to an organization’s procedures.

Auditing clerks check figures, postings, and documents to ensure that they are mathematically accurate and properly coded. They also correct or note errors for accountants or other workers to fix.

Work Environment About this section

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks may work longer hours to meet deadlines at the end of the fiscal year, during tax time, or when monthly or yearly accounting audits are performed.

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks held about 1.8 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services 12%
Retail trade 9
Wholesale trade 7
Healthcare and social assistance 7
Finance and insurance 7

The professional, scientific, and technical services industry includes the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services sub-industry.

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work in offices. Bookkeepers who work for multiple firms may visit their clients’ places of business. They often work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with accountants, managers, and auditing clerks from other departments.

Work Schedules

Many bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work full time. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2014. They may work additional hours to meet deadlines at the end of the fiscal year, during tax time, or when monthly or yearly accounting audits are done. Those who work in hotels, restaurants, and stores may put in overtime during peak holiday and vacation seasons.

How to Become a Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk About this section

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are required to have some postsecondary education.

Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need some postsecondary education and also learn some of their skills on the job. They must have basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.

Education

Employers generally require bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks to have some postsecondary education, particularly coursework in accounting. However, some candidates can be hired with just a high school diploma.

Training

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks usually get on-the-job training. Under the guidance of a supervisor or another experienced employee, new clerks learn how to do their tasks, including double-entry bookkeeping. In double-entry bookkeeping, each transaction is entered twice, once as a debit (cost) and once as a credit (income), to ensure that all accounts are balanced.

Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in specialized computer software. This on-the-job training typically takes around 6 months.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks become certified. For those who do not have postsecondary education, certification is a particularly useful way to gain expertise in the field. The Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation, awarded by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, shows that those who have earned it have the skills and knowledge needed to carry out all bookkeeping tasks, including overseeing payroll and balancing accounts, according to accepted accounting procedures.

For certification, candidates must have at least 2 years of full-time bookkeeping experience or equivalent part-time work, pass a four-part exam, and adhere to a code of ethics.

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers also offers certification. The Uniform Bookkeeper Certification Examination is an online test with 50 multiple-choice questions. Test takers must answer 75 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.

Advancement

With appropriate experience and education, some bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks may become accountants or auditors.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need to be comfortable using computer spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.

Detail oriented. These clerks are responsible for producing accurate financial records. They must pay attention to detail in order to avoid making errors and recognize errors that others have made.

Integrity. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have control of an organization’s financial documentation, which they must use properly and keep confidential. It is vital that they keep records transparent and guard against misappropriating an organization’s funds.

Math skills. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks deal with numbers daily and should be comfortable with basic arithmetic.

Pay About this section

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Median annual wages, May 2015

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

$37,250

Total, all occupations

$36,200

Office and administrative support occupations

$33,200

 

The median annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $37,250 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $57,920.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $38,910
Finance and insurance 38,670
Wholesale trade 37,590
Healthcare and social assistance 36,830
Retail trade 32,830

Many bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work full time. About 1 in 4 worked part time in 2014. They may work longer hours to meet deadlines at the end of the fiscal year, during tax time, or when monthly or yearly accounting audits are performed. Those who work in hotels, restaurants, and stores may put in overtime during peak holiday and vacation seasons.

Job Outlook About this section

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Office and administrative support occupations

2%

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

-8%

 

Employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is projected to decline 8 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Technological change is expected to reduce demand for these workers. Software improvements, such as cloud computing, have automated many of the tasks performed by bookkeepers. As a result, bookkeepers will increasingly be hired on a contract basis through third party bookkeeping firms, rather than being held on staff. 

Demand for bookkeeping is tied particularly to the growth of small businesses, which tend to hire bookkeepers rather than accountants due to their relatively lower cost. Therefore, economic growth should create some openings for bookkeepers to keep these organizations’ financial records. 

Job Prospects

Because bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks make up a large occupation, there will be a large number of job openings from workers leaving the occupation. Thus, opportunities to enter the occupation should be plentiful.

Employment projections data for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

43-3031 1,760,300 1,611,500 -8 -148,700 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Accountants and auditors

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.

Bachelor's degree $67,190
Budget analysts

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending.

Bachelor's degree $71,590
Cost estimators

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular product or industry.

Bachelor's degree $60,390
Financial clerks

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks do administrative work for many types of organizations. They keep records, help customers, and carry out financial transactions.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,040
Loan officers

Loan Officers

Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses.

Bachelor's degree $63,430
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that federal, state, and local governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.

Bachelor's degree $51,430
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm (visited May 04, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.