Billing and Posting Clerks and Machine Operators
- The health care industry employs 1 out of 3 workers.
- Most jobs in this occupation require only a high school
diploma; however, many employers prefer to hire workers who have completed
some college courses or a degree.
- Slower-than-average employment growth is expected as
increased automation of billing services reduces the need for billing
Nature of the Work
and posting clerks and machine operators, commonly called billing clerks,
compile records of charges for services rendered or goods sold, calculate and
record the amounts of these services and goods, and prepare invoices to be
mailed to customers.
Billing clerks review purchase
orders, sales tickets, hospital records, or charge slips to calculate the total
amount due from a customer. They must take into account any applicable
discounts, special rates, or credit terms. A billing clerk for a trucking
company often needs to consult a rate book to determine shipping costs of
machine parts, for example. A hospital’s billing clerk may need to contact an
insurance company to determine what items will be reimbursed and for how much.
In accounting, law, consulting, and similar firms, billing clerks calculate
client fees based on the actual time required to perform the task. They keep
track of the accumulated hours and dollar amounts to charge to each job, the
type of job performed for a customer, and the percentage of work completed.
After billing clerks review
all necessary information, they compute the charges, using calculators or
computers. They then prepare itemized statements, bills, or invoices used for
billing and recordkeeping purposes. In one organization, the clerk might prepare
a bill containing the amount due and the date and type of service; in another,
the clerk would produce a detailed invoice with codes for all goods and
services provided. This latter form might list the items sold, the terms of
credit, the date of shipment or the dates services were provided, a
salesperson’s or doctor’s identification, if necessary, and the sales total.
Computers and specialized
billing software allow many clerks to calculate charges and prepare bills in one
step. Computer packages prompt clerks to enter data from handwritten forms, and
to manipulate the necessary entries of quantities, labor, and rates to be
charged. Billing clerks verify the entry of information and check for errors
before the computer prints the bill. After the bills are printed, billing
clerks check them again for accuracy. Computer software also allows bills to be
sent electronically if both the biller and the
customer prefer not to use paper copies; this, coupled with the prevalence of
electronic payment options, allows a completely paperless billing process. In
offices that are not automated, billing machine operators run off the
bill on a billing machine to send to the customer.
In addition to producing
invoices, billing clerks may be asked to handle follow-up questions from
customers and resolve any discrepancies or errors. Finally, all changes must be
entered in the accounting records.
clerks typically are employed in an office environment, although a growing
number—particularly medical billers—work at home.
Most billing clerks work 40 hours per week during regular business hours,
though about one in seven works part time. Because billing clerks use computers
on a daily basis, workers may have to sit for extended periods and also may
experience eye and muscle strain, backaches, headaches, and repetitive motion
Qualifications, and Advancement
billing clerks need at least a high school diploma. However, many employers
prefer to hire workers who have completed some college courses or a degree.
Workers with an associate or bachelor’s degree are likely to start at higher
salaries and advance more easily than those without degrees. Employers also
seek workers who are computer literate, and in particular those who have
experience with billing software programs.
Billing clerks usually
receive on-the-job training from their supervisor or some other senior worker.
Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in the
specific computer software used by the company. Workers must be careful,
orderly, and detail oriented with an aptitude for working with numbers in order
to avoid making errors and to recognize errors made by others. Workers also
should be discreet and trustworthy, because they frequently come in contact
with confidential material. Medical billers in
particular need to understand and follow the regulations of the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which were enacted to
maintain the confidentiality of patient medical records.
A number of community and
career colleges offer certificate programs in medical billing. Courses
typically cover basic biology, anatomy, and physiology in addition to training
on coding and computer billing software.
Billing clerks usually
advance by taking on more duties in the same occupation for higher pay or by
transferring to a closely related occupation. Most companies fill office and
administrative support supervisory and managerial positions by promoting
individuals from within the organization. Workers who acquire additional
skills, experience, and training improve their advancement opportunities. With
appropriate experience and education, some billing clerks may become
accountants, human resource specialists, or buyers.
billing and posting clerks and machine operators held about 523,000 jobs.
Although all industries employ billing clerks, the health care industry employs
the most, about a third of all billing clerks. The wholesale and retail trade
industries also employ a large number of billing clerks. Third-party billing
companies—companies that provide billing services for other companies—are
employing a growing number of billing clerks. Industries that are providing
this service are the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll
services industry and the office administrative and business support services
industries. These industries currently employ around 5 percent of the
occupation, although a portion of clerks in these industries are performing the
function on their own accounts. Another 3 percent—mostly medical billers—were self employed.
of billing and posting clerks and machine operators is expected to grow more
slowly than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Automated
and electronic billing processes are greatly simplifying billing and allowing
companies to send out bills faster without hiring additional workers. In
addition, as the billing process becomes simplified, other people, particularly
accounting and bookkeeping clerks, are taking on the billing function. Strong
growth in the health care industry, which employs many billing clerks due to
the complicated nature of medical billing, will generate some jobs for billing
clerks in the future. Although growth will be limited, many job openings will
occur as workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Turnover in the occupation is relatively high, characteristic of an entry-level
occupation that typically requires only a high school diploma.
Employment growth will
occur in the expanding health care industries, but growth will be limited as
more hospitals and physicians’ offices use contract billing companies. Contract
billing companies generally have much more sophisticated technology and
software, enabling them to produce more bills per person. In all industries,
including health care, the billing function is becoming increasingly automated
and invoices and statements are automatically generated upon delivery of the
service or shipment of goods. Bills also will increasingly be delivered
electronically over the Internet, eliminating the production and mailing of
Median hourly earnings of
billing and posting clerks and machine operators were $13.00 in May 2004. The
middle 50 percent earned between $10.76 and $15.86. The lowest 10 percent
earned less than $9.12, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.88.
clerks process and send records of transactions for payment; other occupations
with similar responsibilities include payroll and timekeeping clerks;
bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks; tellers; and order clerks.
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics