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Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks

Outlook & Growth

Though average expansion—only 10 percent—is expected in this field through 2018, this is a very large profession. Many jobs will open as current job-holders retire.
In addition, more businesses are expected to outsource their accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services, which will open up opportunities for self-employed bookkeepers. Accounting clerks and bookkeepers who can multi-task and handle payroll to billing will be favored over those who specialize or have limited skills.

In 2008, the median salary of accounting clerks was $32,510. The middle 50 percent earned $26,350 to $40,130. The highest 10 percent earned more than $49,260.
United States Postal Service employees earned the highest salaries. Those working for independent accounting, tax preparation and bookkeeping services earned the least.
Bookkeepers and accounting clerks are financial managers. They calculate expenses, receipts, profits and loss, and accounts payable and receivable.
A full-charge bookkeeper can manage the entire company’s books. These are the type of bookkeepers found in many small companies. Large companies tend to divide up responsibilities among a larger staff of clerks.
All jobs in this field require attention to detail, accuracy and good math skills. Nearly all bookkeepers use special software to enter data from receipts and bills into the computer. They create accounting spreadsheets and maintain databases.
Computerization also enables bookkeepers and accounting and auditing clerks to assume responsibilities in payroll, procurement and billing.
Many clerk jobs can be entered into directly after high school. On-the-job training is often provided by a supervisor or more experienced employee.
Certification: A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation can lend credibility to your efforts. It may help you with career advancement but is not necessary for employment in most states.
If you stay in the accounting field, you may want to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting. After earning this degree, you may sit for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam.
Entering the Field: Though only a high school diploma is needed to enter the field, many employers prefer clerks who have some college, preferably either a diploma or certificate in bookkeeping or an associate degree (two-year degree) in management with a major in accounting. Preference is also given to those who have computer experience, particularly in word processing, spreadsheet use and database management.
An associate degree in office management is another excellent two-year degree for an accounting clerk. A clerk may test for Certified Bookkeeper (CB) after two years of employment.
Career Changers: Check within your existing company to see if there’s an opening. If so, you may have a good chance, because many businesses like to fill these jobs from within. As you gain additional skills and training, you can move up.
Courses in bookkeeping, accounting and auditing are widely available online. Completing a short Certificate in Bookkeeping would be a wise investment. It will help quick-start your entry into accounting.

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another major, such as psychology, you may be able to take selected business and accounting courses to accelerate a career change into this area.

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American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers

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Source for salary and growth data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information on bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk careers, salaries and job prospects visit: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Bookkeepers, Accounting and Auditing Clerks.