What Are Clerical Duties? (Definition and Examples)

Updated 26 January 2023

If you enjoy providing support to professionals in an office environment, then a career as a clerical assistant may be ideal for you. Office or administrative clerks aid in the effective functioning of a company or organisation. Learning about the job duties involved may help you consider if this role aligns with your career goals. In this article, we explain what defines common clerical duties in an office atmosphere, the average salary of clerical assistants, and the requirements to be one.

Related: Examples of Hard Skills Employers Look For

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What are clerical duties?

Clerical work typically involves daily office duties such as data entry, answering phone calls and sorting and filing documents. Different administrative and office support roles perform clerical work on a daily basis. Usually, office clerks, secretaries and sometimes administrative assistants take responsibility for these duties.

Technological developments affect the way people accomplish these specific duties. Offices use sophisticated computer systems, copiers, printers and other equipment to conduct many tasks. Overall, clerical employees help the office run smoothly by overseeing a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities. Some of their work is accessible remotely, while other tasks take place within an office or workplace setting.

Average salary of clerical or administrative assistants

The average national salary of clerical assistants in Australia is $59,987 per year. Typically, this salary depends on years of experience, the location of the position and the industry you work in. Certain qualifications or extensive work experience may lead to a higher salary. Office clerks, clerical assistants or administrative assistants all perform similar duties with comparable salaries.

Related: Understanding the Base Salary in Your Compensation Package

List of clerical duties

The following are common administrative duties typically carried out in offices:

  • Bookkeeping duties: bookkeeping involves the detailed record-keeping of financial documents, expenditures and income. It keeps business executives aware of important finances, like the organisational budget.

  • Completing bank transactions: completing bank transactions helps the company stay organised and prompt with both profit and loss. The clerical employee also keeps records of these transactions.

  • Collection and disbursement of money: clerical employees collect, count and disburse money both in the office and outside to pay for necessities such as office supplies.

  • Communication with customers and colleagues: clerical employees often answer questions, deliver relevant information to customers and colleagues, address customer complaints and monitor office-wide communication efforts.

  • Answering phone calls: answering phone calls, transferring callers and taking messages are a few of the most common tasks office clerks complete.

  • Records and document filings: clerical employees file important company records and ensure documents are well kept. This involves compiling, copying and sorting records of office activities, finances and employment.

  • Operating office machines: clerical work frequently involves operating office machines proficiently, like the fax machine or the answering machine.

  • Keeping records and reports: keeping clear records of all that occurs in the office is an important function of clerical work. This task keeps the office organised and equips the company to make progress based on past work.

  • Maintaining the mailing database: office clerks compile and organise the mailing database systems of a company manually or with the use of an organisational computer program.

  • Replying to emails: checking, replying to and forwarding emails keeps all members of the office updated with relevant information.

  • Delivering messages: running errands and delivering messages, either over the computer or face-to-face, are typical duties of office clerks.

  • Arranging appointments: scheduling appointments and meetings for clients is important for the overall function and success of the office.

Requirements for people who perform administrative duties

Employers often require a combination of education, job skills or work experience from people who perform clerical duties, ensuring their ability to do the job effectively. Requirements for people who perform these duties may include:

Educational requirements

Clerical work doesn't require much education beyond a senior secondary certificate of education. There are academic options for administrative and clerical roles in higher education, however, these options are unnecessary to perform the job duties skilfully. Pursuing a bachelor's degree or receiving a certificate of higher education may differentiate you from other candidates when applying for a clerical or administrative position. A higher level of pay is another potential benefit of earning a degree. If you opt to undergo further schooling, it may aid your ability to advance further into your career.

An employer may ask a person performing clerical work to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure that sensitive company information is secure. This agreement is typically signed upon an offer of employment. Before starting work, undergo a background check along with signing the confidentiality agreement to build trust.

Related: How To Show You Meet Key Selection Criteria When Applying for a Job

Required clerical soft skills

To obtain a role in clerical work, it's important to possess key clerical skills. These skills equip you to perform the job efficiently and with expertise. The following are skills commonly used by clerical employees:

  • Attention to detail

  • Organisation

  • Typing skills

  • Basic computer skills

  • Complex problem-solving skills

  • Written and verbal communication skills

  • Active listening skills

  • Adept analytical skills

  • Ability to learn new skills quickly

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

Administrative and organisational skills requirements

While soft skills benefit a person performing clerical skills, hard skills lead to success in the role. Since employees in clerical roles typically handle a large variety of administrative tasks within an office, the requirements are broad. The following are administrative and organisational skills required for a clerical position:

  • Ability to answer phone calls professionally

  • Good customer service skills

  • Ability to send, check and reply to important emails

  • Knowledge of office equipment such as the fax machine, copier and printer

  • Ability to file, store and organise important documents

  • Collaborative communication skills

  • Ability to foster a positive office environment

  • Excellent reception and front desk skills

  • Time management and prioritisation skills

Related: What Is On-the-Job Training?

Ability to perform computer literacy

Because of today's rapid development in technology, most clerical duties use different computer applications and software. Clerical assistants can develop skills in using computer software like spreadsheets for data entry, word processing programs for typing documents, presentation software for meetings and other relevant computer applications. Here are some of the computer skills people who perform administrative duties may possess:

  • Data entry skills

  • Sound knowledge of desktop publishing

  • Ability to use digital calendars

  • Ability to design and edit webpages

  • Ability to update or post on social media sites

  • Excellent and fast typing skills

  • Data management and visualisation skills

  • Ability to use word processors

  • Knowledge of computer programs, including databases

Understanding of mathematics

A variety of important administrative duties involve carrying out different mathematical processes and calculations. Some clerical assistants perform bookkeeping and accounting duties that involve numerical tasks. These may include making bank transactions or reconciling receipts each month. The following are some of the basic math or numerical skills people who perform these duties can develop:

  • Accounting skills

  • Bookkeeping skills

  • Knowledge of arithmetic

  • Excellent budgeting skills

  • Precise logical thinking

  • Ability to keep up with the latest computer trends

How to develop skills for clerical work

Many employees learn the skills for clerical work while on the job. However, investing in professional growth and development both in and outside the office boosts your chances of employment or promotion. Follow these steps to develop skills for clerical work:

1. Determine areas of improvement

Before you begin work, determine areas of improvement to focus on. Ask a supervisor or colleague to provide feedback to assist with this process. Start with the skills that need the most improvement and gradually work on the rest. Focusing on improving your skills shows a commitment to providing high-quality office support.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

2. Take training courses

Develop certain skills by taking training courses. Organisations offer courses online and in-person, and some may charge a fee. There are a variety of course topics that develop professional skills, such as business development, accounting or a computer skills course. Enrolling in a course demonstrates your ability to take initiative and proactively strengthen your skills which may set you aside from other candidates.

3. Practise

Tailor your newly learned skills through practise. Even if you make mistakes while learning, practising leads to progress and eventual success. For example, if operating the copier is a challenge for you, practise making a few copies of a document until you're able to do it without guidance.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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