Office automation clerks perform a wide range of administrative and clerical tasks that lend critical support to the internal operations of an organization. This job title is used heavily by employers in the public sector, particularly at government agencies dealing with energy, health or the interior, although the tasks are identical to that of most general office clerks. Highly dominated by women, such jobs can provide you entry-level access that comes with real responsibility and the opportunity for advancement.
Duties and Responsibilities
Your primary tasks involve the use of word processing, database, graphics and spreadsheet software to create, edit, revise, store, sort and print a variety of data, such as memos, reports, forms and official correspondences. You also will screen and sort incoming mail, faxes and deliveries, routing them to the appropriate personnel or responding yourself when applicable. You will greet visitors and answer phone calls, ascertaining the nature of their inquiry and providing the applicable information in response. You are responsible for the proper maintenance of all office files, both electronically and through hard copies. Additional duties may include operating office photocopiers, making travel arrangements, maintaining an office bulletin board and assisting staff with clerical or procedural requirements.
You should have a strong eye for detail and clear communication skills, both oral and written. Proper use of spelling, grammar and punctuation is particularly important when proofing and editing documents. You also must be organized, mild-mannered, have a proactive work ethic and be masterful at multitasking. Many employers expect you to type at least 40 words per minute and be knowledgeable about industry-standard software such as Microsoft Office, Lotus or Apple iWork. You should be familiar with all standard office equipment, from faxes to copiers to multiline phone systems, and have the ability to troubleshoot minor maintenance issues. Knowledge of any government regulations and policies applicable to your industry also is helpful.
Education and Training
Many such office clerk positions require only a high school diploma or GED, making them particularly attractive to single or low-skilled women seeking entry-level avenues into the workforce. However, holding a bachelor's degree in a relevant field like office management or business administration opens up a greater number of possibilities and may lead to better compensation or more rapid advancement. Many vocational and trade schools offer such degrees at a far lower cost and time commitment than four-year colleges. More employers, though, will be concerned with any prior experience you have in a similar capacity, which can be obtained easier than higher skilled jobs since many entry-level clerk positions exist.
Salary and Economic Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, office clerks with a high school diploma earned a median annual salary of $26,610 per year, or $12.79 per hour. However, the top 10 percent earned significantly more at $41,850 per year, or $20.12 per hour, which likely included those with greater experience and education. In addition, office automation clerks working for government agencies are more likely to be paid above the median rate since public sector employees make more on average than do their private sector counterparts. Moreover, the economic landscape for such work looks favorable for the foreseeable future. A total of 2,950,700 office clerk jobs existed in 2010, with 489,500 more expected by 2020. This represents an increase of 17 percent, which is 3 percent more than the average growth rate for all jobs nationally.
2016 Salary Information for General Office Clerks
General office clerks earned a median annual salary of $30,580 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, general office clerks earned a 25th percentile salary of $23,300, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $39,530, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,117,700 people were employed in the U.S. as general office clerks.
- National Park Service: Office Automation Clerk
- United States Department of Agriculture: Office Automation Clerk
- U.S. Geological Survey: Office Automation Clerk/Assistant
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: General Office Clerks
- Women and Work: A Handbook; Paula J. Dubeck, et al.
- Cleveland.com: Public sector workers make more in salary and benefits than those in private sector, Labor Department says
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: General Office Clerks
- Career Trend: General Office Clerks
Mark Heidelberger has been writing for more than 22 years, from articles and short stories to novels and screenplays. He is a consummate foodie, loves to travel and has run several businesses, all of which influence his work. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA.