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Office Clerks - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
General office clerks who exhibit strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills may be promoted to supervisory positions. Others may move into different, more senior administrative jobs, such as receptionist, secretary, or administrative assistant. After gaining some work experience or specialized skills, many workers transfer to jobs with higher pay or greater advancement potential. Advancement to professional occupations within an organization normally requires additional formal education, such as a college degree.

Employment
General office clerks held about 3.0 million jobs in 2008. Most are employed in relatively small businesses. Although they work in every sector of the economy, about one quarter worked in educational services and in healthcare and social assistance.

Job Outlook
Employment growth and high replacement needs in this large occupation are expected to result in numerous job openings for general office clerks. Prospects should be best for those with knowledge of basic computer applications and office machinery.

Job Growth
Employment of general office clerks is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The employment outlook for these workers will continue to be affected by the increasing use of technology, expanding office automation, and the consolidation of administrative support tasks. These factors will lead to a consolidation of administrative support staffs and a diversification of job responsibilities. However, this consolidation will increase the demand for general office clerks because they perform a variety of administrative support tasks, as opposed to clerks with very specific functions. It will become increasingly common within businesses, especially those smaller in size, to find only general office clerks in charge of all administrative support work.

In addition to many full-time job openings for general office clerks, part-time and temporary positions are common. Prospects should be best for those who have knowledge of basic computer applications and office machinery—such as computers, fax machines, telephone systems, and scanners—and good writing and other communication skills. Office clerks with previous business or office experience should also have good job prospects. As general administrative support duties continue to be consolidated, employers will increasingly seek well-rounded individuals with highly developed communication skills and the ability to perform multiple tasks.

Job opportunities may vary from year to year because the strength of the economy affects demand for general office clerks. Companies tend to employ more workers when the economy is strong. Industries least likely to be affected by economic fluctuations tend to be the most stable places for employment.

Earnings
Median annual wages of general office clerks were $25,320 in May 2008; the middle 50 percent earned between $19,620 and $31,980 annually. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,030, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $39,880.

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