Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks typically do the following:
- Use bookkeeping software, online spreadsheets, and databases
- Enter (post) financial transactions into the appropriate computer software
- Receive and record cash, checks, and vouchers
- Put costs (debits) and income (credits) into the software, assigning each to an appropriate account
- Produce reports, such as balance sheets (costs compared with income), income statements, and totals by account
- Check for accuracy in figures, postings, and reports
- Reconcile or note and report any differences they find in the records
The records that bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks work with include expenditures (money spent), receipts (money that comes in), accounts payable (bills to be paid), accounts receivable (invoices, or what other people owe the organization), and profit and loss (a report that shows the organization’s financial health).
Workers in this occupation have a wide range of tasks. Some are full-charge bookkeeping clerks who maintain an entire organization’s books. Others are accounting clerks who handle specific tasks.
These clerks use basic mathematics (adding, subtracting) throughout the day.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks use specialized computer accounting software, spreadsheets, and databases to enter information from receipts or bills. They must be comfortable using computers to record and calculate data.
The widespread use of computers also has enabled bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks to take on additional responsibilities, such as payroll, billing, purchasing (buying), and keeping track of overdue bills. Many of these functions require clerks to communicate with clients.
Bookkeeping clerks, also known as bookkeepers, often are responsible for some or all of an organization’s accounts, known as the general ledger. They record all transactions and post debits (costs) and credits (income).
They also produce financial statements and other reports for supervisors and managers. Bookkeepers prepare bank deposits by compiling data from cashiers, verifying receipts, and sending cash, checks, or other forms of payment to the bank.
In addition, they may handle payroll, make purchases, prepare invoices, and keep track of overdue accounts.
Accounting clerks typically work for larger companies and have more specialized tasks. Their titles, such as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk, often reflect the type of accounting they do.
The responsibilities of accounting clerks frequently vary by level of experience. Entry-level accounting clerks may post details of transactions (including date, type, and amount), add up accounts, and determine interest charges. They also may monitor loans and accounts to ensure that payments are up to date.
More advanced accounting clerks may add and balance billing vouchers, ensure that account data are complete and accurate, and code documents according to an organization’s procedures.
Auditing clerks check figures, postings, and documents to ensure that they are mathematically accurate and properly coded. They also correct or note errors for accountants or other workers to fix.
Most bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need some postsecondary education and also learn some of their skills on the job. They must have basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
Employers generally require bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks to have some postsecondary education, particularly coursework in accounting. However, some candidates can be hired with just a high school diploma.
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks usually get on-the-job training. Under the guidance of a supervisor or another experienced employee, new clerks learn how to do their tasks, including double-entry bookkeeping. In double-entry bookkeeping, each transaction is entered twice, once as a debit (cost) and once as a credit (income), to ensure that all accounts are balanced.
Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in specialized computer software. This on-the-job training typically takes around 6 months.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks become certified. For those who do not have postsecondary education, certification is a particularly useful way to gain expertise in the field. The Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation, awarded by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, shows that those who have earned it have the skills and knowledge needed to carry out all bookkeeping tasks, including overseeing payroll and balancing accounts, according to accepted accounting procedures.
For certification, candidates must have at least 2 years of full-time bookkeeping experience or equivalent part-time work, pass a four-part exam, and adhere to a code of ethics.
The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers also offers certification. The Uniform Bookkeeper Certification Examination is an online test with 50 multiple-choice questions. Test takers must answer 75 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
With appropriate experience and education, some bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks may become accountants or auditors.
Computer skills. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks need to be comfortable using computer spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
Detail oriented. These clerks are responsible for producing accurate financial records. They must pay attention to detail in order to avoid making errors and recognize errors that others have made.
Integrity. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have control of an organization’s financial documentation, which they must use properly and keep confidential. It is vital that they keep records transparent and guard against misappropriating an organization’s funds.
Math skills. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks deal with numbers daily and should be comfortable with basic arithmetic.