Accounts Payable Clerk: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become an accounts payable clerk. Learn about educational requirements, job outlook, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Accounts Payable Clerk Do?

An accounts payable clerk is an accounting clerk who handles the accounts payable records for a business or organization. They often work at large companies, where specialization in accounts payable is possible. In order to keep track of the organization's bills, accounts payable clerks use spreadsheets and databases to make records of invoices, contracts and payment due dates. That way, the company can be sure to pay all of its bills on time and avoid additional charges or contract breaches.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma, associate's degree preferred
Key Skills Basic math skills, computer skills, knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8% for all accounting, bookkeeping and auditing clerks*
Median Salary (2015) $37,250 for all accounting, bookkeeping and auditing clerks*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Accounts Payable Clerk?

Businesses need goods and services in order to operate, and processing payment for those necessities is the responsibility of the accounts payable clerk. In this position, you will receive invoices from vendors and supply companies, and record the information using in-house and commercial accounting software programs. After verifying the accuracy of a bill, you will issue payment and log the details of the transaction. Some accounts payable clerks also assist the human resources department with payroll duties.

As companies expand their technology use, employment in this field is expected to decline. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for accounting clerks will decline by eight percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS states that the median annual salary for an accounting clerk in 2015 was $37,250.

What Education Is Recommended?

At a minimum, a high school diploma is required by employers, as seen in October 2011 jobs postings on Monster.com. Earning an associate's degree in business or accounting is recommended by the BLS and is often required by employers. When pursuing an associate's degree in business, topics you'll study will include basic accounting, business law and finance. If you want to focus more specifically on accounting, an associate's degree program in accounting contains coursework in auditing and intermediate accounting. Both of these degree programs will take approximately two years to complete and can be earned online as well as by attending classes on a traditional campus.

Although a bachelor's degree is almost never required for this job, graduates with this level of education may sometimes apply for an entry-level position, such as an accounts payable clerk, in order to get their foot in the door.

What Additional Knowledge and Skills Do I Need?

To perform the job duties of an accounts payable clerk, you must be well-organized and pay close attention to detail. Because much of your job will entail calculating numbers, you must have accuracy and skill when performing math operations. Most companies have transitioned to computer recordkeeping, and you need to be familiar with spreadsheets, word processing and accounting software.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Large companies typically have several different types of specialized accounting clerks, so you could get a closely related job in the same setting. For example, as an accounts receivable clerk, you would keep track of a company's invoices in order to make sure that clients and customers make appropriate payments. Alternatively, you could get a job as an auditing clerk, where your position would be to verify the mathematical accuracy of financial documents and postings. For either of these occupations, you need to have a high school diploma, and you may need to have taken some postsecondary courses as well.

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