What Does a File Clerk Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
File clerks maintain order and control over written records and documents, including correspondence, receipts, and invoices. They sometimes also organize and maintain electronic data, although other employees might handle their own electronic data without the need for additional assistance. In either case, the job entails using a prescribed system, usually either numerical or alphabetical, to ensure that information is easy to locate when it's needed.
Approximately 110,020 file clerks were employed in the U.S. as of May 2018. They work in health care, social services, academia, and in various types of professional offices, such as law firms—basically any business that generates a lot of paperwork and documents.
File Clerk Duties & Responsibilities
Businesses, large and small, have designated cabinets, drawers, rooms, or even warehouses where case files, documents, and information are stored. File clerks are responsible for maintaining these spaces. They might also assume some other responsibilities:
- Develop and maintain organized file systems.
- Create, process, and maintain file records.
- File and retrieve documents for other personnel.
- Prepare records for off-site storage.
- Maintain file room logs to track the location of files throughout the business.
- Dispose of files in accordance with established document-retention schedules.
File Clerk Salary
This is often an entry-level position, and the pay reflects that.
- 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)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education, Training, & Certification
Educational standards are not high for this profession, and most training occurs on the job.
- Education: A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically necessary, although some working in these positions have undergraduate and advanced degrees. About 11 percent have postsecondary certificates.
- Training: Some work experience in a similar field can be very helpful. On-the-job training usually involves working under a more experienced clerk for several months to a year.
File Clerk Skills & Competencies
Working as a file clerk requires strong organization and communication skills. Attention to detail is also important. File clerks may also be required to perform occasional heavy lifting of file boxes and documents. Other traits and abilities are vital as well:
- Reading comprehension: 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 suggestions.
- Critical-thinking skills: Logic and decision-making skills are key to expeditiously sorting various documents and determining what to do with them.
File clerks don't have a particularly bright career outlook. This profession is expected to decline by about 2 percent from 2016 through 2026. Technological data storage is growing in capability and use, effectively making human file clerks obsolete.
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.
File clerk jobs typically move in tandem with regular office hours. When an office is open to clients and other personnel are present, a file clerk is expected to be available. Additionally, the volume of documents produced may be significant, depending on the size and nature of the firm or business. A file clerk might have to work full-time to keep up with the flow, but this isn't to say that job-share opportunities or part-time positions aren't available. Overtime is not normally required.
How to Get the Job
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 actually 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.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018