Billing clerks keep records, calculate charges, and maintain files of payments made for goods or services. Billing machine operators run machines that generate bills, statements, and invoices.
Billing clerks review purchase orders, bills of lading, sales tickets, hospital records, or charge slips to calculate the total amount due from a customer. Calculating the charges for an individuals hospital stay may require a letter to an insurance company; a clerk computing trucking rates for machine parts may consult a rate book. In accounting, law, consulting, and similar firms, billing clerks calculate client fees based on the actual time required to perform the task. They keep track of the accumulated hours and dollar amounts to charge to each job, the type of job performed for a customer, and the percentage of work completed.
After billing clerks review all necessary information, they compute the charges using calculators or computers. They then prepare itemized statements, bills, or invoices used for billing and recordkeeping purposes, depending on the organizations needs. In one organization, the clerk might prepare a bill containing the amount due and date and type of service; in another, the clerk would produce a detailed invoice with codes for all goods and services provided. This latter form might list items sold, credit terms, date of shipment or dates services were provided, a salespersons or doctors identification, if necessary, and the sales total.
After entering all information, billing machine operators then run off the bill to send to the customer. Computers and specialized billing software allow many clerks to calculate charges and prepare bills in one step. Computer packages prompt clerks to enter data from hand-written forms and manipulate the necessary entries of quantities, labor, and rates to be charged. Billing clerks verify the entry of information and check for errors before the computer prints the bill. After the bills are printed, billing clerks check them again for accuracy.
In 1998, billing clerks held about 342,000 jobs, and billing machine operators held about 107,000 jobs. One third of the billing clerks jobs were in health services, mostly in physicians offices. Transportation and wholesale trade industries each accounted for 1 out of 10 jobs. Most of the remaining jobs were found in manufacturing or retail trade.
Wholesale and retail trade establishments provided about one third of all billing machine operator jobs; service establishments, including health services, provided another third. Of the remaining jobs, most were found in banks and other financial institutions.
Job openings for those seeking work as billing clerks or billing machine operators are expected to be numerous through the year 2008. Despite the lack of rapid employment growth, many job openings will occur as workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Turnover in this occupation is relatively high, which is characteristic of an entry-level occupation requiring only a high school diploma.
Employment of billing clerks is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2008. A growing economy and increased demand for billing services will result in more business transactions. Rising worker productivity as computers manage more account information will not keep employment from rising. More complex billing applications will increasingly require workers with greater technical expertise.
Employment of billing machine operators, on the other hand, is expected to decline through the year 2008. More advanced machines and computers will continue to replace billing machines, enabling billing clerks to perform the jobs formerly done by billing machine operators. In some organizations, productivity gains from billing software will increasingly allow accounting clerks to take over the responsibilities of billing clerks and billing machine operators.
(See the introductory statement on records processing occupations for information on working conditions, training requirements, and earnings.)