You can gain experience in this field by taking on clerical or bookkeeping responsibilities with a school club, student government, or other extracurricular activities. Another good option is to work in retail operations, either part time or during the summer. Working at the cash register or even pricing products as a stockperson is a good introductory experience. It also may be possible to gain some experience by volunteering to help maintain the bookkeeping records for local groups, such as religious organizations and small businesses.
You might also consider joining Business Professionals of America, a "national co-curricular career and technical organization for high school, college, and middle school students preparing for careers in business and information technology." Visit its Web site (https://www.bpa.org) for information on membership, programs, and scholarships for high school and college students.
Billing clerks keep records and up-to-date accounts of all business transactions. They type and send bills for services or products and update files to reflect payments. They also review incoming invoices to ensure that the requested products have been delivered and that the billing statements are accurate and paid on time.
Billing clerks set up shipping and receiving dates. They check customers' orders before shipping to make sure they are complete and that all costs, shipping charges, taxes, and credits are included. Billing clerks are also troubleshooters. They contact suppliers or customers when payments are past due or incorrect and help solve the minor problems that invariably occur in the course of business transactions.
Billing clerks enter all transaction information onto the firm's account ledger. This ledger lists all the company's transactions such as items bought or sold as well as the credit terms and payment and receiving dates. As payments come in, the billing clerk applies credit to customers' accounts and applies any applicable discounts. All correspondence is carefully filed for future reference. Nearly all of this work is currently done using spreadsheets and computer databases.
The specific duties of billing clerks vary according to the nature of the business in which they work. In an insurance company, the transaction sheet will reflect when and how much customers must pay on their insurance bills. Billing clerks in hospitals compile itemized charges, calculate insurance benefits, and process insurance claims. In accounting, law, and consulting firms, they calculate billable hours and work completed.
Billing clerks are also often responsible for preparing summary statements of financial status, profit-and-loss statements, and payroll lists and deductions. These reports are submitted periodically to company management, who can then gauge the company's financial performance. Clerks may also write company checks, compute federal tax reports, and tabulate personnel profit shares.
Billing clerks may have a specific role within a company. These areas of specialization include the following:
Invoice-control clerks post items in accounts payable or receivable ledgers and verify the accuracy of billing data.
Passenger rate clerks compute fare information for business trips and then provide this information to business personnel.
COD (cash-on-delivery) clerks calculate and record the amount of money collected on COD delivery routes.
Interline clerks compute and pay freight charges for airlines or other transportation agencies that carry freight or passengers as part of a business transaction.
Settlement clerks compute and pay shippers for materials forwarded to a company.
Billing-control clerks compute and pay utility companies for services provided.
Rate reviewers compile data relating to utility costs for management officials.
Services clerks compute and pay tariff charges for boats or ships used to transport materials.
Foreign clerks compute duties, tariffs, and price conversions of exported and imported products.
Deposit-refund clerks prepare bills for utility customers. Raters calculate premiums to be paid by customers of insurance companies.
Money transfer clerks work for companies such as Western Union. They compute costs for sending funds electronically throughout the world.
Billing clerks may work in one specific area or they may be responsible for several areas.