Clerical Courses and Certificate Program Information
Clerical professionals do tasks such as filing, answering phones, compiling reports, handling daily mail and operating copy machines. Clerical courses are normally taken as part of a diploma, certificate or degree program.
Clerical courses frequently culminate in a certificate or diploma, though associate's degree programs are also available for those interested in continuing their education or advancing in their current career. These programs are available in the fields of administrative assisting, office assisting and clerical office studies. Coursework generally focuses on the daily activities required of clerical assistants or secretaries working in business or office administration. An internship, office field study or co-op experience is often included to provide hands-on practice doing common tasks in an office.
Clerical programs generally focus on the areas of office procedures, computer applications and customer service. One of the basic courses students take covers common duties of clerical workers, including answering telephones, placing supply orders and filing records. A related course covers customer service skills and prepares students to follow proper etiquette for dealing with internal and external customers in person, through e-mail and over the phone.
Students also learn the basics of how to use a computer's operating system, type on a keyboard accurately and create correspondence using productivity software. These classes are hands-on and usually cover Microsoft Windows and the Microsoft Office suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. Some programs also include a course on accounting software. Depending on the type of program they're enrolled in, students might take some courses in general education and business as well.
List of Common Clerical Courses
Descriptions of some common clerical program courses are displayed below.
The clerical procedures course introduces various clerical and administrative duties. It may include instruction in ordering supplies, answering phones, filing, maintaining correspondence and time management skills. This clerical course may be part of the curriculum for a certificate, diploma or associate's degree. Clerical programs generally provide the training necessary for graduates to become entry-level clerical employees.
Keyboarding classes focus on building typing speeds while maintaining high accuracy rates. This course introduces students to basic keyboard functions and the proper techniques for typing. Ergonomic issues explored in many keyboarding courses include proper posture and hand placement while using a mouse and keyboard. Students often participate in speed-building drills and exercises and timed typing tests. Alphanumeric touch methods may also be discussed in a keyboarding course.
Computers are an integral part of most business and clerical positions. Learning basic computer functions and software programs is generally the focus of a word processing course. Students get hands-on instruction and experience while learning various business software programs, like the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).
Basics in customer service issues are explored. Students learn to define and provide quality service to customers while also maintaining confidentiality and professionalism. Different types of customers are explored, such as external customers (clients using the company's services) and internal customers (coworkers or departments within a company that need each other's services). Phone and e-mail etiquette is addressed in a clerical customer service course.
Certificate Program Information
A certificate of achievement or completion is a common award in clerical areas. To earn one, students may attend clerical courses and certificate programs at trade schools, community colleges, vocational schools and adult education centers. Concentration is generally placed on computer applications as many computer programs are used in clerical duties. Clerical specialty areas may include the medical, legal, manufacturing, construction, transportation and communications industries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many agencies certify office and clerical professionals, including the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and NALS, which began as the National Association of Legal Secretaries. Individuals who successfully pass certification exams from the International Association of Administrative Professionals earn designations as Certified Professional Secretary or Certified Administrative Professional. NALS offers law-focused clerical certification exams leading to the Accredited Legal Secretary or Professional Legal Secretary credentials.
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