How to Become an Accounting Clerk

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Updated September 26, 2022

Accounting clerks play an important role in companies of all sizes. Find out the education, credentials, and skills you need to become an accounting clerk.

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Accounting clerks handle organizations' financial records, tracking all activities and keeping accounts accurate and updated. They may also manage transactions, such as payroll, bill payments, and accounts payable and receivable.

Accounting clerk qualifications typically include computer and math skills, plus integrity and a detail-oriented mindset. The role may also require postsecondary education, though clerks can take several paths to the field.

This flexible and accessible profession allows individuals to pursue roles in the business and financial industry in a relatively short period. Many positions also provide growth potential and can lead to more advanced careers down the road.

How to Become an Accounting Clerk

  • Earn your high school diploma: Accounting clerk careers require each candidate to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Complete a postsecondary program: Most accounting clerk qualifications include postsecondary education, such as a two-year associate or four-year bachelor's degree. Relevant disciplines include accounting and finance.
  • Get an entry-level job: With a postsecondary education, graduates can qualify for entry-level accounting clerk and bookkeeping positions.

Certification Career Path

  • Earn your high school diploma
  • Obtain a starter job: To access certification programs, candidates need active employment as bookkeepers or accounting clerks.
  • Complete a professional certification program: A certified bookkeeper program, such as those approved by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), provides participants with advanced professional skills and qualifications for entry-level jobs.
  • Take the certification exam: The four-part national exam tests individuals on their knowledge of adjustments, payroll, inventory, and internal controls.
  • Develop two years of experience: To qualify for AIPB credentials, each individual needs a minimum of two years or 3,000 hours of experience. They have three years to build experience after passing the national exam.
  • Register for certification: Complete the certification application and submit the registration fee.
  • Get an entry-level job

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Accounting Clerk Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accounting clerks typically require postsecondary education. Depending on the position and employer, this could mean certificate programs or degrees at the associate, bachelor's, or master's levels. With each level of education, graduates can qualify for roles with greater responsibility and higher earnings.

These programs differ in length and scope. Certificate programs typically run for 3-4 months and focus entirely on accounting, whereas associate degrees take two years and offer foundational studies in accounting and general education.

Four-year bachelor's degrees offer comprehensive studies, while master's degrees take 1-2 years and delve into more advanced topics and concepts. These programs may offer specializations, which allow students to point their education in a certain direction.

Specializations usually appear within bachelor's and master's programs. Some possible options include cost accounting, forensic accounting, and tax accounting.

Required Credentials for Accounting Clerks

The accounting clerk profession does not require specific certifications. However, these credentials can help candidates with no postsecondary education secure employment. Certifications can also demonstrate credibility and increase earning power.

Many employers value credentials like the certified bookkeeper (CB) or certified public bookkeeper (CPB), which demonstrate a solid grasp of accounting clerks' responsibilities. Other helpful credentials include certified accounts payable professional (CAPP) and certified internal auditor (CIA).

Optional Certifications and Degrees

Professionals can pursue many degrees and certifications to boost their accounting clerk qualifications. Continuing and advanced education can lead to more job security, higher earnings, and new opportunities. With a bachelor's or master's degree, for example, accounting clerks can access more advanced accounting roles or management positions.

Accounting clerks can also improve their career outlook with bookkeeper certifications. The CB credential requires each professional to complete an educational program, pass the national exam, and acquire two years or 3,000 hours of experience.

The CPB credential requires an individual to hold an associate degree or complete the necessary prerequisite courses, pass the national exam, and acquire one year or 2,000 hours of experience.

To maintain these credentials, professionals need to complete continuing education requirements before renewing their certifications. The CB certification requires a minimum of 60 continuing education credits every three years, and the CPB certification requires 24 continuing education credits each year for renewal.

Required Experience for an Accounting Clerk

The experience required for these careers depends on the employer, the position, and the accounting clerk's qualifications. Professionals with postsecondary degrees may not need experience for entry-level positions, though internships and practicums help students gain experience while they study.

Furthermore, the CB and CPB certifications require between 2-3 years of experience to qualify. These candidates can take the required certification programs and courses, pass the respective exams, and then build their experience until they qualify for national certification.

Should I Become an Accounting Clerk?

The accounting clerk profession features several benefits that make it an appealing career option. The broadness of accounting clerk qualifications and job requirements opens the door for professionals from different backgrounds. With positions in nearly every industry, accounting clerks enjoy professional flexibility and choice.

With experience and additional education and credentials, accounting clerks can access more advanced accounting positions. They may qualify for accounting roles, auditing positions, or finance careers. Accountants with bachelor's or master's degrees and extensive experience can also pursue certified public accountant credentials.

The field can present challenges, however, such as inconsistent accounting clerk education requirements and technological changes. While technology continues to make these jobs easier and more effective, it reduces the overall demand for accounting clerks. Professionals may also need to regularly update their skills to maintain credentials and keep up with their competition.

The Job Hunt

The job search can be a stressful but necessary component of becoming an accounting clerk, but there are many helpful resources. For example, schools and communities host job fairs to connect hiring organizations with new talent. Business and accounting conferences run workshops and networking events to help professionals build relationships and open doors.

Job-seekers can also join professional organizations, such as the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, and the American Accounting Association.

  • Accounting Jobs Today: This website posts accounting-related jobs from across the country and provides other helpful career resources.
  • Accountingfly: Accountingfly specializes in remote and hybrid accounting job opportunities. The site also provides consulting services.
  • Indeed: Indeed offers free job searches to over 250 million job-seekers each month. Users can upload their resumes and have employers recruit them directly.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn hosts a professional network of more than 830 million individuals. Site users can create a professional profile, connect with other professionals, and search for jobs.

Read more tips on job searching

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Upward Mobility

Accounting clerks can advance their careers in several ways. By accumulating experience or pursuing more advanced training, they can pursue tax accountant and cost accountant positions.

  • Accounting clerks perform basic accounting tasks, while accountants use financial information to help individuals and organizations make informed decisions.
  • Tax accountants complete and file taxes accurately for individuals and organizations.
  • Cost accountants help organizations improve spending, handle budgets, and oversee expenses.
  • Accounting careers typically require a bachelor's degree at minimum.
  • According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants was $77,250 as of May 2021.
  • The median annual salary for accountants exceeded the median annual salary for accounting clerks by more than $30,000 in May 2021.

Questions on How to Be an Accounting Clerk


What is the career path for an accounting clerk?

The typical career path for accounting clerks starts with an entry-level job and on-the-job training. After acquiring experience, landing more advanced roles, and completing continuing education, professionals may qualify for other accounting and finance roles.

What are the qualifications of an accounting clerk?

Accounting clerk qualifications usually include a high school diploma and postsecondary education, such as a certificate program or associate degree. A candidate may need a bachelor's degree, relevant experience, or professional certification in some cases.

How long does it take to start an accounting clerk career?

Accounting clerks can start their careers in only a few months. Certificate programs often take 3-4 months and can qualify graduates for entry-level roles. Earning a degree will take 2-4 years.

Can I get a job as an accountant without a degree?

Yes. While most accounting jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, some employers have lower requirements. As an alternative to a degree, prospective accountants may also pursue certificate programs or professional certifications.

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