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Accounts Receivable Specialist vs. Clerk: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

There are many positions available in the accounting field. Two common roles are that of an accounts receivable specialist and a clerk. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an accounts receivable specialist and a clerk, and we provide additional accounting professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is an Accounts Receivable Specialist?

An Accounts Receivable Specialist is responsible for issuing invoices to customers and tracking payments. They work with customers to resolve any billing issues and ensure that payments are received in a timely manner. Accounts Receivable Specialists may also reconcile customer accounts, prepare reports on receivables and perform other administrative tasks. Many Accounts Receivable Specialists work in the accounting or finance department of a company, though some may work in customer service or sales.

What is a Clerk?

A Clerk is a position within a company that generally provides support to a department or team. Clerks are often responsible for tasks such as data entry, filing, and answering phones. Clerks typically report to a supervisor or manager. Some Clerks may be responsible for more specialized tasks, such as ordering supplies or handling customer inquiries. Clerks typically work in an office setting, but some may work in retail or other customer service environments.

Accounts Receivable Specialist vs. Clerk

Here are the main differences between an accounts receivable specialist and a clerk.

Job Duties

Accounts receivable specialists have more complex duties than clerks. They’re in charge of locating and contacting customers who haven’t paid their bills, so they can recover the money owed to their company. To do this, accounts receivable specialists may use phone calls, emails or letters to communicate with customers. They also manage databases and provide customer support.

Clerks perform simpler tasks that are part of a daily routine rather than a mission to collect payments. For example, a clerk might stock shelves with products that customers have purchased, organize paperwork or assist customers with basic questions about store policies.

Job Requirements

Accounts receivable specialists and clerks typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the field. However, some employers may prefer candidates who have an associate’s degree or some college coursework in accounting, finance or business administration. Additionally, many employers provide on-the-job training for entry-level positions. Accounts receivable specialists and clerks can also pursue certifications through organizations like the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). These certifications demonstrate that professionals have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their job duties effectively.

Work Environment

Accounts receivable specialists typically work in an office environment, often for a large company. They may travel to meet with clients and attend conferences or other events where they can network with new clients. The job requires them to be organized and able to multitask effectively.

A clerk usually works in a retail store, grocery store or another location that sells products directly to consumers. This position is ideal for someone who enjoys working with the public and has excellent customer service skills. Clerks also need to have good organizational skills and be able to handle multiple tasks at once.


Both accounts receivable specialists and clerks need to have excellent math skills to perform their job duties. They use these skills when they are calculating interest, preparing invoices and processing payments. Both of these professionals also need to be detail oriented so that they can accurately keep track of customer information and transactions.

While an accounts receivable specialist needs to have strong communication skills to interact with customers about their account balances and make payment arrangements, a clerk typically does not need to have this same skill set. This is because a clerk’s primary responsibility is to input data into the system and process payments, rather than interacting directly with customers. However, both of these professionals need to have basic customer service skills so that they can provide assistance and resolve issues as needed.


The average salary for an accounts receivable specialist is $48,670 per year. The average salary for a clerk is $29,548 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and your location.


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