Training, Certifications, Skills, Advancement: Financial Clerks

Most financial clerks are required to have at least a high school diploma. However, having completed some college is becoming increasingly important, particularly for those occupations requiring knowledge of accounting. For occupations such as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and Procurement clerks, an associate’s degree in business or accounting often is required. Some financial clerks have bachelor’s degrees in business, accounting, or liberal arts. Although a degree is rarely required, many graduates accept entry-level clerical positions to get into a particular company or to enter the finance or accounting field with the hope of being promoted to professional or managerial positions. Some companies have a set plan of advancement that tracks college graduates from entry-level clerical jobs into managerial positions. Workers with bachelor’s degrees are likely to start at higher salaries and advance more easily than those without degrees.

Experience in a related job also is recommended for a number of these positions. For example, cash-handling experience is important for gaming cage workers and tellers, and telemarketing experience is useful for bill and account collectors. For other financial clerks, experience working in an office environment or in customer service is always beneficial. Regardless of the type of work, most employers prefer workers with good communication skills and who are computer literate; knowledge of word-processing and spreadsheet software is especially valuable.

gaming cage workers have additional requirements. They must be at least 21 years old and they are required to obtain a license by the State gaming commission or another regulatory body. In addition to a fee, applicants must provide a photograph and proof of age and residence. A background check is conducted to make sure that applicants do not have a criminal history.

Once hired, financial clerks usually receive on-the-job training. Under the guidance of a supervisor or some other senior worker, new employees learn company procedures. Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in specific computer software. Bill and account collectors generally receive training in telephone techniques, negotiation skills, and the laws governing the collection of debt. Financial clerks must be careful, orderly, and detail oriented in order to avoid making errors and to recognize errors made by others. These workers also should be discreet and trustworthy, because they frequently come in contact with confidential material. In addition, all financial clerks should have a strong aptitude for numbers.

Bookkeepers—particularly those who handle all the recordkeeping for companies—may find it beneficial to become certified. The “Certified Bookkeeper” designation, awarded by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, assures employers that individuals have the skills and knowledge required to carry out all the bookkeeping and accounting functions up through the adjusted trial balance, including payroll functions. For certification, candidates must have at least 2 years of bookkeeping experience, pass three tests, and adhere to a code of ethics.

Payroll clerks also may find it useful to become certified. The American Payroll Association offers two certifications: the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). The FPC is mainly for beginning payroll workers and certifies that one has a basic knowledge of payroll issues. The CPP is meant for payroll professionals who are required to have several years of experience dealing with payroll issues before they can become certified. Either certification requires several courses and passing an examination. Tellers can prepare for better jobs by taking courses offered throughout the country by banking and financial institutes, colleges and universities, and private training institutions.

Financial clerks usually advance by taking on more duties in the same occupation for higher pay or by transferring to a closely related occupation. For example, procurement clerks with the appropriate experience often become buyers. Most companies fill office and administrative support supervisory and managerial positions by promoting individuals from within the organization, so financial clerks who acquire additional skills, experience, and training improve their advancement opportunities. With appropriate experience and education, some clerks may become accountants, human resource specialists, or buyers.