Occ. Code 2501500






New York State Department of Civil Service

Classification Standard


Typically, these classes are responsible for supervising a large clerical staff engaged in processing, recording, maintaining and reviewing State forms, documents, licenses and other official papers. These activities are generally performed in support of a major agency mission and as such frequently involve the application of specific legislation, laws, and regulations and unique work procedures in providing services to the public or the agency’s program staff.

Positions in these classes are located in most State agencies.


Head and Principal Clerk positions are characterized by the supervision of a staff of subordinate clerical employees and by the performance of tasks and activities associated with the maintenance and improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the clerical system. This includes planning to insure the full and effective utilization of staff, reporting on the status of clerical operations, and assisting superiors in devising and revising clerical procedures and instructions to accomplish the organization’s mission. In agencies having EDP operations, incumbents may supervise data entry and quality control activities.

The number of employees supervised varies from position to position depending upon the nature of the program administered. Typically, incumbents supervise large staffs in programs involving the routine repetitive processing of a large volume of documents according to prescribed routines and schedules. Incumbents have fewer subordinates in programs characterized by a number of variables including: a number of related laws or regulations that may be subject to periodic amendment; frequent exceptions requiring the interpretation of rules and regulations; operating under strict deadlines imposed by rules; and the requirement to work closely with program people as well as with the general public.

Typically, the Head Clerk is the highest level clerk position in a large clerical operation involving approximately 30 to 50 full-time subordinates, or functions as a principal assistant to a Chief Clerk in a larger organization. A Principal Clerk will function within this framework, however, the supervisory span will rarely exceed 20 to 30 full-time subordinate positions. At the Head Clerk level, in programs where the staff’s activity generally does not involve direct contact with the public and where the work processing is voluminous but involves few variables, the subordinate staff may range up to approximately 80 positions. Under the same conditions, a Principal Clerk may have a subordinate staff of up to about 50 positions.

Positions of Chief Clerk are distinguished from those of Principal and Head Clerk by their having larger subordinate staff with greater emphasis on determining work procedures and priorities which have a direct effect on the agency’s programs.

A Senior Clerk either supervises a subordinate staff of approximately 3 to 10 clerical employees and/or performs the more difficult clerical assignments in support of an agency program or segment of a program.

There are a number of specialized clerical classes such as Principal and Head File Clerk which are characterized by supervisory responsibilities. However, specific characteristics of such classes differ measurably from classes in the general clerical series and are identified in the individual standards. In addition, there are a number of classes at the Principal and Head Clerk levels engaged in specialized clerical work as indicated by a parenthetic designation such as Purchase, Payroll, and Personnel which require specialized knowledge and training in particular laws, regulations, and procedures related to the occupational specialty.


Supervises a staff of clerical employees usually through one or more subordinate level supervisors.

Provides advice to and otherwise assists superiors in planning, organizing, scheduling and coordinating work operations and work procedures.

Responds to inquiries from other units, agencies or the public concerning the operations of the section.

Insures that subordinate staff is adequately trained.

Periodically prepares narrative and statistical reports.

Interviews applicants and selects individuals for employment by determining their suitability for a particular vacancy in the section.

May prepare annual equipment and personnel budget for the clerical operation.

May maintain inventory and as required prepare requests for purchase orders of equipment and stock in the unit to insure that adequate supplies are on hand to carry out the unit’s function.


The supervisory clerks described in this standard have frequent and continuing verbal communication with supervisors of equivalent level and with subordinate level supervisors and staff at meetings and staff conferences for the purpose of exchanging information, providing instructions, assistance and advice on operating problems, and distributing and discussing written guides and instructions covering new or amended clerical procedures. Principal and Head Clerks confer with superiors on planning, organizing, scheduling and coordinating work operations and procedures within an assigned area to insure that program goals are achieved.

Incumbents of these classes prepare periodic written production reports covering clerical activities for the supervisor, and as assigned prepare written material in support of budget requests for equipment and staff.

Communication with the general public varies depending upon the specific activities supervised. However, frequent communication with the public in matters regarding agency services or operations which are subject to frequent job criticism, e.g., licensing and revenue collection, are typical of this class. Communication with the public is both written and face-to-face in response to either a question or a complaint about the agency’s service or a determination. The latter may involve stressful situations.


  Principal or Head Clerk may serve in the capacity of the top clerical job in an agency program area, or as a principal assistant to a higher level clerical position.

As the top clerical job in a program, incumbents are responsible for administering and supervising clerical operations; directly assigning staff; setting standards for quality and quantity of work produced; reviewing and revising existing clerical procedures; controlling activities by way of the review of periodic production reports, meetings with staff and direct observations of operation; and assisting and consulting with the superior, clerical staff and with the operating units serviced on matters concerning clerical activities. In turn, these incumbents are supervised by an administrator having responsibilities beyond the receiving, processing, maintaining, and/or distribution of documents, who provides general direction to insure that the objectives of the clerical program are being met. Clerical operations are monitored by the review of periodic written clerical activity and production reports and frequent verbal communications covering such matters as below standard production, service complaints, and a variety of problems which are related to such a clerical operation employing a large number of people. Guidelines regulating the clerical operation are available in the form of written rules, regulations, and procedures.

Incumbents of these classes serving in the capacity of a principal assistant to a higher level clerk, supervise a group of subordinates by assigning work, observing performance, reviewing production reports, and spot-checking activities. Such principal assistants are supervised, within the framework of the supervisory controls described above as practiced by a top clerical position.



Positions in these classes are normally filled by the promotion of incumbents of lower level clerical positions as follows:

Class Required Permanent Experience

Principal Clerk

One year in a clerical position allocated at Grade 7 or higher.

Head Clerk

One year in a clerical position allocated at Grade 11 or higher.


Reviewed: 7/02




NOTE: Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe. Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class. The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written. Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.