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What does a Clerical Assistant do?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A clerical assistant is responsible for providing general office support for a group of people. This type of assistant may work in any number of fields, including law offices, schools, and many businesses. The precise duties for which the clerical assistant is responsible vary depending on the company, but it is common for an assistant to answer telephones, perform filing, and schedule meetings. Various types of computer tasks may also be included, and using basic office machinery is common. Different companies have different expectations for people in this position, so it is a good idea to read the job description thoroughly in order to determine what a specific clerical position entails.

Working with phones is often a large part of a clerical assistant's job. In some companies, a clerical assistant might also be responsible for answering emails and social networking messages. Assistants often communicate with customers and business relations using these methods to perform essential functions for the company.

Using office equipment is another large part of a clerical assistant's job. Scanners, copiers, and fax machines are often used to perform a variety of functions. Computers, of course, are often used for virtual filing, message composition, and many other tasks. Data entry on computers is commonly assigned to clerical assistants, as is maintenance of computerized date books and other organizational materials. Sometimes management of small amounts of money and preparation of small budgets is also assigned to assistants.

Making appointments is often a task appointed to clerical assistants. An assistant may be responsible for scheduling meetings, making sure appointments do not overlap, and redirecting potential clients to an appropriate member of the office staff. Often, an assistant is also required to organize mail and other communication materials. Depending on the type of work the office performs, a clerical assistant may be required to sign for packages and important materials and direct those materials to their appropriate destinations.

The primary duty of any assistant is to assist other workers, and therefore the precise duties an assistant might be asked to perform vary by office. For example, in a library, an assistant might be asked to apply bar codes to books, while in a school an assistant might be asked to help hand out locker combinations. In this profession, flexibility is extremely useful, particularly if someone is working for the office in a temporary capacity. What a clerical assistant primarily does is make the office an easier place to work, and the assistant does this by doing what he or she is told.

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Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On Sep 21, 2012

I started out answering the phones at a manufacturing company and within a few years had worked my way up to an executive assistant. With each position I learned more about the company and all of this experience helped me get the assistant job I currently have.

With technology constantly changing, it is important that I stay up to date with a lot of the computer programs and the technology in our office. Not all clerical assistant jobs have to be boring, mundane jobs. I really enjoy my job and feel like I provide a good service for a lot of people.

By Mykol — On Sep 21, 2012

Most any kind of business needs some kind of administrative or clerical assistance. Most of my jobs have been in this field, and I have had bosses that would be completely lost without the assistance of their clerical help. It may not be the highest paying job out there, but it is the type of job that I feel the most efficient at.

By julies — On Sep 20, 2012

I work as a clerical assistant for a group of lawyers and find the job to be both challenging and rewarding. This is a very busy law office and I didn't have any legal experience when I took the job, but had worked as an administrative assistant.

I have a variety of duties to perform and I never know quite what to expect from day to day. One thing I really like about my job is I am constantly learning something new. I have also had the chance to meet some very interesting people and when I leave at the end of the day, know that I don't have to bring any of my work home with me.

By myharley — On Sep 19, 2012

I worked as a combination receptionist and clerical assistant at an insurance company in the afternoon when I was going to college. This was an easy job that didn't really require any special training.

I was only there for part of the day, but don't think I could do this as a full time job. I like work that is more challenging than just answering the phone, typing and filing. I know some people have spent their entire career in clerical assistant jobs, but I think I would go crazy after just a few months.

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