Remember Joan at the beginning of "Mad Men?" She was a clerical officer of the highest order, running the entire pool of secretaries and basically manning the whole office when it came right down to it. She kept track of all clerical duties, including typing, meetings, ordering supplies, lunch appointments and more. Or she told the workers under her to do it for her. A clerical officer can run the gamut, from someone like Joan at the top of the food chain all the way down to an entry-level secretary answering phones in the back office.

Education and Training

The Joans of today must add another key skill to their resumes: expertise with technology. Because today's offices are run with computers, knowing several programs, including Microsoft Word and Excel, will better qualify you for the job.

You don't often need education other than a high school diploma for clerical work, though a college degree doesn't hurt. Hard skills, however, are typically the best tools to have under your belt, such as typing and knowledge of office equipment and software programs. Knowing your way around a complicated phone system also helps.

Traits of a Good Clerical Officer

In addition to the hard skills mentioned, there are several soft skills or traits that are important to the job of a clerical officer.

Organizational skills: One of the most important traits possessed by a clerical officer are excellent organizational skills. You must keep track of meetings, messages, supplies, budgets and more. An efficiently run office is often the result of a great clerical officer.

Decision making: If you work as a clerical officer, you'll need to prioritize tasks and sometimes make decisions for your employer. Good judgment and well-thought-out decisions are great skills to have.

Good With People: Secretaries and administrative assistants are often the very first people you see when you enter a large office. They are the front line of defense and the first impression of the entire operation. They also interact with clients, customers and staff. They should communicate effectively, create a positive work environment and have experience in dealing with clients.

Writing skills. Written communication is a key skill of clerical officers who must respond to emails, draft memos and communicate with managers, employees and customers. Good grammar, fluid prose and a professional tone are all a must in written communications.


While many find the work of a clerical officer rewarding and engaging, it doesn't pay that well unless you become an executive assistant. In May of 2016, the median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $37,230. This is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,930, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,230.