An accounting clerk is a financial record keeper who uses specialized ledgers and software to record and process expenditures, receipts, payroll and all other financial transactions for a business or organization. This position requires an aptitude for math, attention to detail, familiarity with basic accounting procedures, and computer and ten-key proficiency. Jobs in this field range from entry level accounting data entry clerks, to full-charge bookkeepers.
An entry level accounting clerk is generally required to provide clerical and accounting support for the accounting department. He must maintain accurate records and files, process and mail invoices and payments, type reports, and key data into a general ledger computer system. Flexibility and a willingness to perform a variety of support tasks are essential to success in this position.
An accounting clerk in a large company may specialize in a specific area, such as accounts payable (A/P), accounts receivable (A/R), or payroll. An A/P clerk will update and maintain records concerning all expenditures, including company credit cards and employee reimbursement reports. He will process vendor invoices, review and monitor early payment discounts according to company policies, and assure that payments are sent within the appropriate time frame. He will also be responsible for reconciling vendor statements and using good communication skills to resolve any discrepancies
An accounting clerk who works in the accounts receivable department will prepare and submit customer invoices, and post and deposit receipts as those invoices are paid. If the business has cash receipts, he will maintain proper accountability of cash funds and deposits. Accurate data entry of receipts is vital, so the A/R clerk can monitor payment history of clients and prepare reports showing delinquent receipts. If the company offers a discount for early payments, he is charged with monitoring the payment activity and making certain discounts are credited properly.
Payroll departments also use an accounting clerk to collect and process timecards, calculate taxes, and other withholdings, and prepare payroll checks in a timely fashion. He must make certain timecards are accurate, and that applicable labor laws are being followed, including breaks, limits on hours for underage workers, and overtime. A payroll clerk needs to be familiar with the applicable tax laws and may be asked to prepare reports and submit the withholdings to the proper tax authorities and other designated recipients.
Most companies require an accounting clerk to have a high school education or equivalent, with some related experience or accounting related coursework. Larger companies, or those seeking more specialized assistance, may look for an applicant with an associate degree or related certification. A senior accounting clerk will need several years of experience or an associate's or bachelor's degree. This position requires critical thinking skills to evaluate data, analyze problems and implement solutions. A senior clerk often oversees cost accounting and inventory practices, and produces monthly reports such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets.
Some smaller companies may combine two or more of the specialized accounting clerk functions, or may use a bookkeeper to conduct all of the financial recording keeping and transactions. A full-charge bookkeeper is versatile and experienced in all aspects of the company’s daily financial operations. Knowledge of bookkeeping practices, payroll requirements and accounting reports is required. Good communication and interpersonal skills are also valuable, since a bookkeeper has regular contact with vendors, customers and employees.