What Does a File Clerk Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

File clerks use a system, usually numerical or alphabetical, to maintain paper or electronic records, including correspondence, receipts, contracts, and invoices, to ensure that information is easy to locate when it's needed. They organize and file documents, retrieve data, and upload electronic files.

Approximately 110,020 file clerks were employed in the U.S. as of May 2018. They work in health care, social services, academia, and various types of professional offices, such as law firms—basically any organization that generates a large volume of paperwork or electronic documents.

File Clerk Duties & Responsibilities

Businesses, large and small, have designated servers, cabinets, drawers, rooms, or even warehouses where case files, documents, and other types of information are stored. File clerks are responsible for the upkeep of these spaces. Their duties may include:

  • Developing organized filing systems.
  • Creating, processing, and maintaining file records.
  • Filing and retrieving documents for other personnel.
  • Preparing records for off-site storage.
  • Maintaining file room logs for tracking the location of files.
  • Disposing of files in accordance with established document-retention schedules.

File Clerk Salary

This is an entry-level position, which is reflected by the pay.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,700 ($15.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $50,230 ($24.15/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $21,390 ($10.28/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

Educational standards are not high for this profession, and most training takes place on the job.

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically necessary, although some people working as file clerks have undergraduate and advanced degrees. About 11 percent have postsecondary certificates.
  • Training: Some work experience in a similar field is helpful. On-the-job training often involves working under a more experienced clerk for a few weeks to a few months.

File Clerk Skills & Competencies

Working as a file clerk requires strong organization and communication skills as well as meticulous attention to detail. File clerks may also be required to perform occasional heavy lifting of file boxes and the like. Other vital skills and abilities include:

  • Computer and software skills: You should feel at ease using the internet and word processing, spreadsheet, and email apps. You may also need to be familiar with document management software, such as eFileCabinet, or file storage in the cloud.
  • Reading comprehension skill: A major part of this position involves deriving a document's nature from its contents and placing it in a logical location where others expect to find it.
  • Listening skills: Listening is important to understanding coworkers' needs and implementing their requests and suggestions.
  • Critical-thinking skills: Logic and decision-making skills are key to expeditiously sorting various documents and determining what to do with them.

Job Outlook

Unfortunately, the job outlook for file clerks isn't bright. File clerk employment is expected to decline by about 10 percent between 2016 and 2026 as organizations combine administrative functions, such as reception and filing, and the capability and ease of use of technological data storage continue to grow.

Work Environment

As a file clerk, you'll be employed in an office environment, where you could spend much of your time retrieving and delivering files to other employees or sitting in front of a computer. If you work in a larger office, you'll likely have the opportunity to meet and interact with company personnel at many levels.

Work Schedule

File clerks work during normal office hours as a rule. When an office is open to clients and other employees are on the job, a file clerk is expected to be there as well. Because the volume of documents produced may be significant, depending on the size and nature of the organization, a file clerk might have to work full-time to keep up with the flow. But this doesn't mean that job-share opportunities or part-time positions aren't available. Overtime is not generally required.

How to Get the Job

REFRESH YOUR RESUME

Before you send your resume to prospective employers, go over it to make sure it's up to date and free of typos and inaccuracies. If you don't have a resume or any job experience to list, use expert tips and a solid example to create a winning first resume.

PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW

Well before your interview, research the company and ask a friend to help you practice answering some of the most common interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll feel when you're sitting across from the hiring manager.

Comparing Similar Jobs

If you're interested in working in an office scenario, there are other types of office jobs you might want to consider, although some require more education and training.