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How to Become a General Office Clerk

General office clerks usually need a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential. Workers often learn their skills on the job.


Most general office clerks have a high school diploma or GED.

Business education programs offered in high schools, community and junior colleges, and postsecondary vocational schools can help people prepare for an entry-level job as a general office clerk. Courses in office practices, word processing, and other computer applications are particularly helpful.


General office clerks often learn their skills on the job. On-the-job training typically lasts up to 1 month and may include guidance on how to use office systems or equipment.


After gaining some work experience or specialized skills, many workers transfer to jobs with higher pay or greater advancement potential. Some may move into other administrative jobs, such as receptionists and secretaries and administrative assistants. For more information, see the profiles on receptionists and secretaries and administrative assistants.

General office clerks who exhibit strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills may be promoted to supervisory positions. However, advancement to professional occupations within an organization often requires additional formal education, such as a college degree.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. General office clerks must understand and communicate information effectively when interacting with others in person, by phone, or in writing.

Computer skills. Word processing and other basic computer skills help office clerks do many of their tasks. Because organizations frequently keep files and records on computers, some office clerks also use and maintain computer databases.

Customer-service skills. Office clerks respond to questions and provide information to a wide variety of people, ranging from coworkers to the public.

Detail oriented. Many administrative tasks, such a proofreading documents and arranging schedules, require excellent attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Good people skills are important because office clerks often work closely with others in their office, as well as with people from outside the office. 

Organizational skills. Being organized helps office clerks find files and other important information quickly and efficiently. General office clerks should be able to decide which tasks are most important and manage their time efficiently.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition