What Does a File Clerk Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A day in the life of a file clerk: Develop and maintain organized file systems; prepare records for off-site storage; file and retrieve documents for other personnel

The Balance / Theresa Chiechi

File clerks use a system, usually numerical or alphabetical, to maintain paper or electronic records, including correspondence, receipts, contracts, and invoices, to ensure that information is easy to locate when it's needed. They organize and file documents, retrieve data, and upload electronic files.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 update, approximately 110,020 file clerks were employed in the U.S. They work in health care, social services, academia, and various types of professional offices such as law firms. Any organization that generates a large volume of paperwork or electronic documents hires file clerks.

File Clerk Duties & Responsibilities

Businesses, large and small, have designated servers, cabinets, drawers, rooms, and warehouses where case files, documents, and other types of information are stored. File clerks are responsible for the upkeep of these spaces. This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Develop organized filing systems.
  • Create, process, and maintain file records.
  • File and retrieve documents for other personnel.
  • Prepare records for off-site storage.
  • Maintain file room logs to track the location of files.
  • Dispose of files according to established document-retention schedules.

In addition to managing an organization's records, file clerks may be called on to assist in a number of other areas, including greeting visitors; answering phones and directing calls; typing memos, emails, and other types of documents; transcribing recordings; designing forms; operating office equipment; and handling confidential materials.

File Clerk Salary

A file clerk's salary varies based on experience, location, and the ability to multitask in other roles:

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,700 ($15.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $50,230 ($24.15/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $21,390 ($10.28/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Education, Training, & Certification

Educational standards are basic for this profession, and most training takes place on the job.

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically necessary, although some people working as file clerks have undergraduate and advanced degrees. About 11% have postsecondary certificates.
  • Training: Some work experience in a similar field is helpful. On-the-job training often involves working under a more experienced clerk for a few weeks to a few months.

File Clerk Skills & Competencies

Working as a file clerk requires strong organization and communication skills as well as meticulous attention to detail. File clerks may also be required to perform occasional heavy lifting of file boxes and the like. Other vital skills and abilities include:

  • Computer and software skills: You should feel at ease using the internet and word processing, spreadsheet, and email apps. You may also need to be familiar with document management software, such as eFileCabinet, or file storage in the cloud.
  • Reading comprehension skill: A major part of this position involves deriving a document's nature from its contents and placing it in a logical location where others expect to find it.
  • Listening skills: Listening is important to understand coworkers' needs and implement their requests and suggestions.
  • Critical-thinking skills: Logic and decision-making skills are key to expeditiously sort various documents and determine what to do with them.

Job Outlook

File clerk employment is expected to decline by about 10% between 2016 and 2026 as organizations combine administrative functions, such as reception and filing, and the capability and ease of use of technological data storage continue to grow.

Work Environment

File clerks are employed in an office environment, where they spend much of their time retrieving and delivering files to other employees or sitting in front of a computer. File clerks who work in a larger office have the opportunity to meet and interact with company personnel at many levels.

Work Schedule

File clerks work during normal office hours as a rule. When an office is open to clients and other employees are on the job, a file clerk is expected to be there as well. Because the volume of documents produced may be significant, depending on the size and nature of the organization, a file clerk might have to work full-time to keep up with the flow. But this doesn't mean that job-share opportunities or part-time positions aren't available. Overtime is not generally required.

How to Get the Job


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Before the interview, research the company and ask a friend to help you practice answering some of the most common interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll feel when you're sitting across from the hiring manager.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in working in an office scenario also consider other types of office jobs. Some of these jobs may require additional education and training. Here's a list of similar jobs, along with their median annual salaries:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018