The clerical field involves working as a secretary or administrative assistant. Responsibilities include maintaining control of an office environment through a variety of administrative and clerical duties, including telephone use, planning and scheduling meetings, and organizing and maintaining files. In May 2008, the median wage of clerical workers was $29,050, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Clerical workers need a variety of educational, training and personal qualifications.
Most employers prefer clerical workers who have a high school diploma or GED, which qualifies them for an entry-level position. Graduates also can seek training with a vocational or technical program with a one- or two-year program in office administration. In these programs, students receive training in computer and office skills. Some of these schools will even offer job placement services for graduates. Secretaries and administrative assistants usually must have a college degree. A degree in business or one related to the company's industry will give the candidate an advantage in the job search.
Clerical workers can receive certification from national organizations such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Legal Secretaries, Inc., and the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA). The IVAA has three certifications available: Certified Virtual Assistants, Ethics Checked Virtual Assistant and the Real Estate Virtual Assistant. As clerical workers gain experience in the field, they can receive a designation such as a Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) or Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). Candidates must meet certain educational or experience requirements and pass an exam. There are also agencies that offer certifications in the legal or medical industries.
Clerical workers must have word processing, writing and communication skills. Employers prefer clerical workers who want to increase their knowledge of computer software. They must also have excellent typing skills, spelling skills, grammar skills and oral communication skills. Employers will only hire clerical workers with customer service and interpersonal skills since they will have to deal with people on a daily basis. For advanced administrative positions, good judgment, organization skills and the ability to work independently are important. Clerical workers who adapt to a changing environment are also in demand.
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