Career Facts

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Job Outlook: -4% (Decline)

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What General Office Clerks Do About this section

General office clerks
General office clerks type, format, or edit routine memos.

General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.


General office clerks typically do the following:

  • Answer and transfer telephone calls or take messages
  • Sort and deliver incoming mail and send outgoing mail
  • Schedule appointments and receive customers or visitors
  • Provide general information to staff, clients, or the public
  • Type, format, or edit routine memos or other reports
  • Copy, file, and update paper and electronic documents
  • Prepare and process bills and other office documents
  • Collect information and perform data entry

Rather than performing a single specialized task, general office clerks have responsibilities that often change daily with the current needs of the employer.

Some clerks file documents or answer phones; others enter data into computers or perform other tasks using software applications. They also frequently use photocopiers, scanners, fax machines, and other office equipment.

The specific duties assigned to clerks will depend on the type of office in which they work. For example, a general office clerk at a college or university may process application materials and answer questions from prospective students, while a clerk at a hospital may file and retrieve medical records.

Work Environment About this section

General office clerks
General office clerks work in offices.

General office clerks held about 3.1 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of general office clerks were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 12%
Healthcare and social assistance 12
Government 9
Administrative and support services 8
Professional, scientific, and technical services 8

General office clerks usually work in office settings.

Work Schedules

Most general office clerks work full time.

How to Become a General Office Clerk About this section

General office clerks
General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent.

General office clerks typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn their skills on the job.


General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Courses in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software, may be helpful for those who aren’t already familiar with them.


General office clerks usually learn their skills while on the job. Their training typically lasts up to one month and may include instructions on office procedures, proper phone etiquette, and the use of office equipment.


General office clerks may advance to other administrative positions with more responsibility, such as secretaries and administrative assistants.

Advancement opportunities often depend on work experience.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. General office clerks often provide general information to company staff, customers, or the public. They should be courteous and prompt with their responses.

Detail oriented. General office clerks perform many clerical tasks that require attention to detail, such as preparing bills.

Organizational skills. General office clerks file and retrieve records. They need to keep records organized to be able to access them quickly and efficiently.

Pay About this section

General Office Clerks

Median hourly wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations


Office and administrative support occupations


General office clerks



The median hourly wage for general office clerks was $16.98 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.59, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $27.47.

In May 2020, the median hourly wages for general office clerks in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $18.59
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17.56
Healthcare and social assistance 16.69
Educational services; state, local, and private 15.90
Administrative and support services 15.80

Most general office clerks work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

General Office Clerks

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations


Office and administrative support occupations


General office clerks



Employment of general office clerks is projected to decline 5 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Some office clerks will be needed to handle administrative duties in certain industries, such as healthcare and social assistance, but the increasing use of technology that automates document preparation tasks will result in fewer general office clerks needed to perform the work. For example, many organizations maintain electronic documents or use automated phone systems, reducing the need for some general office clerks. In addition, electronic filing systems and file sharing software allow other office workers to do the tasks of general office clerks, further decreasing employment of office clerks.

Job Prospects

Despite declining employment, about 317,500 openings for general office clerks are projected each year, on average, over the decade in this very large occupation.

Those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment projections data for general office clerks, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Office clerks, general

43-9061 3,126,300 2,970,400 -5 -155,900 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

The Handbook does not have contacts for more information for this occupation.


Office Clerks, General