City Clerk Job Description
The role of a city clerk, also referred to as a municipal clerk, is varied and important at the local government level. City clerks oversee the local election process, maintain public records, attend and take the minutes of city council meetings, and assist in the development of departmental policies. City clerks also prepare the budget for a city clerk division of local government and ensure the distribution of legal notices. City clerks typically work full time; the attendance of council meetings might require that clerks occasionally work during the evening. City clerks should have strong managerial and organizational skills and communicate clearly both verbally and in writing. City clerks commonly cite low stress levels and high job satisfaction.
City Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
While a city clerk’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Maintain Public Records
From updating public information to handling open records requests, city clerks are tasked with managing public records. They must update information pertaining to any new legislation and manage files about court rulings, agreements, deeds, public complaints, vital statistics, and claims regarding property damage.
Oversee City Council Meetings
City clerks attend city council meetings. They record minutes for both public meetings and closed sessions, create and distribute meeting agendas, and furnish information about meetings to the public.
Manage Legal Information
It falls to city clerks to ensure that all state laws and policies are adhered to within the municipal office. They review procedures, address discrepancies, publish legal notices, develop ordinances, and train staff in all areas of regulations and compliance.
Issues Licenses and Permits
City clerks review applications and issue permits and licenses and process payments for these documents. These could include licenses for transportation services, serving alcohol, entertainment, business ownership, selling tobacco products, or zoning.
City clerks manage local election processes. They make sure local standards are met at the polls, manage election equipment, maintain voter registration lists, prepare ballots, publicize election information, and record election results. They also reinforce campaign finance regulations.
City Clerk Skills and Qualifications
Leaders with an eye for detail and the ability to handle several tasks at once can make successful city clerks. After looking over several job postings for this position, we found that many employers seek applicants who display the following skills:
- Computer skills – from electronic records management to email communications, city clerks should be knowledgeable about computer hardware and software systems and operations
- Project management – scheduling, budgeting, and team building are important project management skills that city clerks should demonstrate on a daily basis
- Office skills – city clerks should have strong typing skills and have knowledge of working copiers, fax machines, scanners, and other office equipment
- Communication skills – city clerks should possess strong oral and written communication skills, as they converse and interact with a diverse public as well as public officials, local business owners, and elected officials
- Reporting – it is important that city clerks have the ability to create clear public reports and relay all important information to the public as needed
- Organization skills – city clerks must keep accurate records and be able to access requested information in a timely manner
- Ability to work independently – though city clerks often work closely with staff, it is crucial that they make decisions and address situations with little or no supervision when required
City Clerk Education and Training
In most cases, employers do not request that candidates for a city clerk position hold more than a high school diploma or equivalent. Taking business, public administration, or political science coursework can be helpful. City clerks typically get on-the-job training to learn about government policies, regulations, and programs; this training could take several months to complete.
City Clerk Salary and Outlook
Based on the most recent information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), city clerks earn a median annual salary of just over $37,000. City clerks earning in the lowest 10th percentile are paid about $24,000, while top earners can see a yearly salary of $58,500.
City clerks employed by state government offices earn a higher mean annual salary (nearly $44,000) compared to local government offices (just under $39,000), the BLS reports. City clerks employed in New York earn the highest average annual wage in the US at close to $56,000, followed by New Jersey ($50,000) and Connecticut (just over $49,000).
A 6 percent employment growth rate for city clerks is projected by the BLS through 2026. This figure is influenced mostly by regular turnover as individuals retire from this occupation. Currently, there are more than 135,000 city clerks employed in the US.
Do you feel that you could serve the public well as a city clerk? You can learn more about this occupation and what it entails by examining the resources provided below:
International Institute of Municipal Clerks – from online educational programs to certification, IIMC provides several resources and support for city clerks. Members can also benefit from professional development opportunities, networking, conferences, and links to relevant publications
City Clerks Association of California – members of CCAC have access to an annual conference, a mentoring program, training, networking, and updates on legislation. Each state has its own city clerk or municipal clerk association; check online for the state in which you live
Mastering Council Meetings: A Guidebook for Elected Officials and Local Governments – since running or assisting in the development of council meetings is one of the major duties of a city clerk, this book is essential for anyone starting out in this profession. Get an inside look into meeting procedures, discussion strategies, and debate practices
CivicPlus Blog – novice and seasoned city clerks can find a lot of useful tips and review best practices with this blog. Find articles addressing risk management, programming enhancements, meeting management, citizen engagement, and so much more
NextRequest – handling requests for public information is a key responsibility of city clerks, and this blog explores current trends and best practices when it comes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Review articles about transparency, request processes, reporting organization, and other important topics in this area of city clerking
Government Gone Digital Podcast – hosted by the local government of Gilbert, Arizona, this podcast is “technology meets governing.” Access podcasts that explore such ideas as using social media, online community engagement, online feedback, the use of video, and other ways that technology can be used to enhance the job of a city clerk or similar official
Managing America’s Cities: A Handbook for Local Government Productivity – this thorough book takes a look at city clerk roles, functions of various municipal government departments, and the overall structure of local government. It examines planning and goal-setting strategies that are effective for those working at this level of government
Local Government Management: Current Issues and Best Practices – both students and professionals can take something away from this comprehensive book, which gathers articles addressing such topics as public personnel management, citizen involvement, local government productivity, and budgeting practices
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