File Clerk Job Description
File clerks manage a company’s permanent paperwork. Such documents may include employee records, client or patient information, receipts, and tax forms. By maintaining this information in an orderly fashion, it can be retrieved quickly and not get lost.
File clerks are valuable in any office that deals with a large amount of paperwork. Many find employment in medical or legal offices. File clerks tend to work regular full-time hours and may spend a good deal of the day on their feet. Some may move around between office floors or do daily post office runs. Ability to lift and adequate hand dexterity also can be advantageous. Demand for file clerks is expected to decrease 6 percent through 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While 159,000 people worked as file clerks in 2014, only 150,100 are projected in the profession by 2024 as technology and automation continue to make physical filing less common.
File Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
An organized paperwork system makes needed documents easier to find, which results in saving time and money. In performing this important work, file clerks perform a variety of core tasks, such as the following:
Learning or Creating a Filing System
Every office has its own filing methods. File clerks must become thoroughly versed in their employer’s system. Such knowledge ensures paperwork goes where it should so that anyone who understands the filing system can locate it. For instance, papers related to court cases may be filed in a law office first by the last name of the lead attorney and then alphabetically by the client’s last name. In offices where filing methodology doesn’t already exist, file clerks may be called upon to come up with a systematic, logical plan for arranging documents.
The rise of digital documents has expanded the scope of many file clerks. Modern workers often take responsibility for electronic paperwork in addition to physical documents. They must use precise file names and folders so that these pieces of information remain orderly and easy to find, just like their paper counterparts.
From time to time, file clerks go through all the files. They may discard outdated ones, send inactive ones to storage, add new data, or verify contact information. This action keeps records manageable and accurate.
Because of their outstanding knowledge of the filing system, others both inside the office and out may ask the file clerk to find particular information. After retrieval, the file clerk may need to copy, fax, email, or deliver the contents. For instance, another medical office may want a copy of a person’s recent bloodwork before scheduling the patient for surgery. File clerks also keep track of when someone borrows a file in order to make sure it is returned.
In addition to filing, file clerks may be called upon to assist with other routine administrative tasks that keep operations flowing. Such jobs may include typing, sorting mail, answering phones, conveying messages, and maintaining the stock of office supplies.
File Clerk Skills
Outstanding organizational skills are essential for file clerks, and they should be able to effortlessly put things in alphabetical and/or numerical order. Likewise, file clerks need to pay close attention to what they are doing in order for documents not to be misplaced. A patient’s file, for example, that is missing medical information could have dire consequences. Other qualities that hiring managers like to see when interviewing for file clerk positions include:
- Communicating well with others
- Managing time effectively to complete duties
- Exhibiting a willingness to learn new technologies as needed
- Showing pride in one’s work
- Committing to confidentiality as files may contain sensitive or private information
File Clerk Tools of the trade
As they go about their duties, file clerks commonly use the following:
- Files – paperwork grouped together and organized by type, person’s name, or other logical methods
- File cabinets – storage units designed specifically to hold file folders, oftentimes with hanging structures within to allow easy movement
- Color codes – stickers of different colors placed onto files to make them visually easier to group and find
- Computers – for data entry, spreadsheets, email correspondence, scanning, and other basic office functions
- Electronic files – information grouped together and organized logically that is stored on a computer system
- Fax machine – a machine that electronically scans a document and transmits the image of it to another fax machine
File Clerk Education and Training
File clerks possess at least a high school diploma. About 70 percent of them have taken at least some post-secondary courses; common fields of study include computers, business, and office management. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree can increase job prospects. New hires should expect significant on-the-job training.
File Clerk Salary
The median annual salary for file clerks is $29,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. File clerks in the 10th percentile earn about $19,800 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $47,400 a year. File clerks in the District of Columbia, Oregon, and Missouri make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $44,830, $34,320, and $33,080, respectively.
File Clerk Resources
To learn more about what file clerks do and how to become one, check out these valuable resources:
File Clerk Career: The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview and Getting Promoted – For aspiring file clerks, this book shows how to create winning cover letters and résumés as well as ways to shine during interviews.
International Association of Administrative Professionals – According to its website, IAAP “strives to ensure individuals working in office and administrative professions have the opportunity to connect, learn, lead, and excel.” To this end, the group provides a variety of training opportunities, networking possibilities, and industry events. Check out how it promotes four core values necessary to succeed as a file clerk or other office professional: integrity, transparency, excellence, and collaboration.
American Society of Administrative Professionals – This organization with more than 60,000 members focuses much of its efforts on continuing education. File clerks looking to improve their skills and advance their career might want to check out ASAP’s webinars, articles, and career center.
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