Desk Clerk Job Description
A desk clerk, also referred to as a general office clerk by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, works under the supervision of one or more managers, often with little direct supervision. They are responsible for a variety of clerical tasks, some of which can vary, depending on the industry in which they work. For example, a desk clerk at a beauty salon will have different tasks than one who works in a medical billing department. Most desk clerks work full-time hours. A part-time schedule might be possible, however, depending on employer needs.
Desk Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
Desk clerks’ daily duties and responsibilities vary depending on the employer, but, in general, desk clerks share the same core tasks. Based on our review of job listings, common tasks are:
Answering the phone
Desk clerks are the first line of contact for people who have general questions or who need to speak with a specific person. Desk clerks know how to use a phone system, including accessing voicemails and transferring calls correctly. Taking accurate phone messages and delivering them is also an important duty.
A great influx and outflow of information are involved in an office setting, and desk clerks are often tasked with keeping the information organized. Documents, such as letters, invoices, and purchase orders, have to be filed either manually or electronically.
Desk clerks handle general inquiries via email, forward emails to other people in the organization, type emails according to instruction, and frequently communicate with vendors and suppliers via email.
Maintaining Calendars and Schedules
Desk clerks may be asked to maintain monthly calendars and scheduling for one or more people in the office, updating calendars and informing all involved parties of any changes to the schedule via email or by delivering a hard copy of the updates.
Taking and Maintaining Inventory Levels
Desk clerks may be designated as gatekeepers of inventory. For example, they may be responsible for taking inventory of office supplies and reordering them as needed.
Desk Clerk Skills and Qualifications
Because desk clerks often work with minimal supervision, it’s important that they are self-motivated and hardworking. Employers also seek applicants with these abilities:
- Detail oriented – accuracy is vital as many of the clerical tasks desk clerks perform are detailed, such as preparing billing statements or ordering inventory
- Organization skills – to organize the considerable amount of information and paperwork that flows in and out of a business and to be able to access important information in a timely manner
- Time management skills – to ensure the variety of tasks desk clerks must perform each day are completed efficiently
- Problem-solving skills – often the first point-of-contact in an organization or department, desk clerks inevitably have to deal with people who need general assistance
- Interpersonal skills – from speaking on the phone to communicating by email to dealing with people face-to-face, the ability to interact appropriately is a must
Tools of the Trade
Desk clerks often use the following technology and tools:
- Computer software programs (Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- Electronic or manual filing systems
- Voicemail system
- Fax machine, copier, printer
Desk Clerk Education and Training
A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required to hold a desk clerk position. Training or coursework in technology applications and software can be helpful. With experience, desk clerks can advance to administrative positions that require additional levels of responsibility.
Desk Clerk Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the national median annual salary for a desk clerk, also known as a general office clerk, as $31,500 with a median hourly wage of $15.14. A desk clerk in the 10th percentile earns approximately $19,864 a year (or $9.55 an hour), while the highest paid in the field make $51,626 a year ($24.80 hourly).
According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, over 3,117,700 desk clerks are employed in the United States. Projected employment growth for this sector is -1 percent from 2016 to 2026 because of the trend of automating tasks, which will reduce the need for general office labor.
Desk Clerk Helpful Resources
We searched the web to find some of the best industry resources for desk clerks. Browse the following links to learn more:
American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) – ASAP ranks as the largest online resource center for administrative professionals. Members can benefit from various tools, training, and networking to advance in their professions.
International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) – The IAAP provides support to office and administrative personnel via research and professional development. The organization also has a mission of helping people ages 62 and older with housing assistance.
Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook – Written by James Stroman, Kevin Wilson, and Jennifer Wauson, this is a comprehensive resource on a wealth of topics that concern office professionals who want to improve their performance.
Administrative Assistant: The Training Course – Written by Amy S. Morgan, this self-paced training course is presented in a workbook format with lessons and quizzes. Learn about the basic tasks of the job and skills required, as well as important tips for demeanor.
Communication Strategies for Administrative Professionals: How to Communicate What You Can Do, Can’t Do, Will Do, Won’t Do, Need and Want – Written by Karen S. Porter, this book contains quick and specific tips that will help you learn the art of strategic communication in the workplace.
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