What is an Accounting Assistant? - Top Accounting Degrees (2022)

On your way to becoming an Accountant, you may consider being an accounting assistant after taking some core classes in an accredited accounting program. It takes a certain kind of numbers person to enter the field of accounting, but it fills an essential need that every company has.

Larger companies, especially, employ accounting assistants and accounting clerks to augment their financial departments. Some accounting assistants, however, work as free agents. While the job is sometimes viewed as a step to becoming an accountant, people employed in this position for several years can work their way up to management positions.

Job Description

Accounting assistants provide administrative support to accountants. They typically work on payroll, bookkeeping, reporting, and miscellaneous tasks for the accountant. During the tax reporting season, Accounting Assistants can expect to be completing tax returns for simple accounts, and possibly preparing paperwork for more difficult accounts.

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The position is mostly a 9-5 day job, but can include night and weekend shifts during end of month and tax seasons. Accounting assistants need to be familiar with most accounting software, like Quickbooks or Microsoft Money, and be able to compile and run reports using spreadsheets and databases, according to the Houston Chronicle. A typical salary range for accounting assistants is between $25k and $46k per year based on prior experience and education, according to PayScale. Many companies offer benefits, retirement, and will assist you in completing your Accounting degree or CPA licensing.

Duties may include :
• Drafting and sending invoices
• Process payments made by or to the company
• Keeping track of overdue accounts and sending reminders to clients
• Reconcile employment hours with statements
• Reconcile bank statements
• Manage insurance claims
• Other clerical duties
A small number of accountant assistants work as freelancers, filling in and augmenting staff during peak seasons. These people can work from a home office or at the client’s business.

A Changing Field

Accounting, as a whole, is experiencing a lot of change, and that includes the role of the accounting assistant. For one thing, this type of job might once have been viewed as drudgery. Bob Cratchit is an example of an antiquated image of an accounting assistant. Dickens pictured him toiling day-in-and-day-out in his cubicle with his nose in his ledgers. Today’s accounting assistants have more types of responsibilities and use technology to perform quality control and ensure accuracy. An article in Forbes Magazine asserts that, although many people believe that robots and artificial intelligence will take over the jobs done today by assistants in accounting, there will always be a need for the human factor.
What will change is the need for people in this occupation to acquire expertise in computer use, especially in software like Quickbooks, Word and Excel. As accountants with bachelor’s and advanced degrees in accounting take on the role of advisors in finance for corporations, analyzing and interpreting financial data for management, companies will need employees to enter the data and to manage incoming and outgoing finances. There will also be a need for customer service in contacting people about overdue bills and other issues.
While the job is still usually performed in the office, there are some exceptions. To meet the need for expended proficiency in entry-level positions, many accountant assistants find they are more mobile, attending meetings and workshops that are often held off-site.

Accounting Assistant or Accounting Clerk

Another change is in the job titles “accounting assistant” and “accounting clerk.” Once viewed as being synonymous, a split has occurred identifying these as two separate occupations. According to Biz Fluent.com, an accounting clerk is a mostly clerical position, while accounting assistants have more of the responsibilities of an accountant.
The accounting clerk enters daily data into a ledger, answers telephones and handles various other tasks such making copies, sending emails or letters and other clerical duties. For this job, a high school diploma is usually sufficient because much of the work that is specific to accounting is learned through on-the-job training. These workers do have to know how to use accounting software, however.
Accounting assistants perform many different types of duties in their support of the accountants in a business. They may take much of the responsibility for getting the payroll out and for direct customer contact. While people can become accounting assistants with high school diplomas, employers prefer them to have a minimum of an associate degree, and sometimes a bachelor’s degree. Accounting clerks may eventually work their way up to becoming an accounting assistant, but accounting assistants, after several years of experience, can assume management positions.

Education

(Video) Top 20 Accounting Assistant Interview Questions and Answers for 2022

Most accounting assistant job postings list a high school diploma as the minimum requirement, but the positions are most likely filled by students in an accounting program or by individuals with accounting experience. It is possible to attain the position without experience or education but you will be competing for a limited number of openings with candidates that may have those additional qualifications.

There are various accounting assistant certifications and diplomas that are offered at different colleges including an Accounting Clerk Certification. Most certificate and diploma programs cover similar areas including:

• Financial accounting: This is recording, understanding and generating reports about business financial transactions.
• Principles of management: This is the study of using human capital and other resources to effectively run a business.
• Managerial accounting: Managerial accounting involves managing cash flow, pricing products and using other factors to present reports to management that will help them make more informed decisions.
• Accounting software applications: As stated earlier, the field of accounting is turning to technology to help track financial data, trends, legislation and other pertinent information. Students must become comfortable in using such technology.

There are some certifications specific to spreadsheet applications as well. These recognitions can be obtained while taking classes toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting. At many colleges, the certifications are included in the curriculum as you progress through the program.

Work Environment

As an accounting assistant you can expect to work at a desk in an office setting. You may have an office or a cubicle, and you will be using a computer for most of the work that needs to be completed. As for the types of places accountant assistants are employed, these include healthcare facilities, government agencies, insurance companies, brick-and-mortar retail companies and online shopping companies. They work in small and in large businesses. Smaller businesses may require the assistants to do more of the jobs of a certified accountant while larger businesses with more staff may require a specific role for assistants. A recent job listing online was for an entry-level position in accounting, auditing and finance at a corrections facility in Kansas. Others were for banks, insurance companies, hospitals and nursing homes and many retail and service establishments including city offices.

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Organizations

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA, offers membership at any level and certifications after three years in the field. The certification can take up to 4 years to complete and consists of up to 14 examinations to complete, including an ethics module. The American Accounting Association, or AAA, was founded in 1916 and offers valuable publications and research tools. They have a diverse membership and claim to shape the future of accounting.

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To be an accounting assistant, you need to have a passion for numbers, accounting, and for accuracy. You need to have attention to detail and determination to solve sometimes difficult problems within general ledgers and spreadsheets full of data. Confidentiality is an important factor when dealing with corporate or personal accounts. It can be a great lifelong career, or it can be a way to earn valuable experience and education on the way to becoming an accountant.

Glassdoor.com lists several requirements beyond these for someone who wants to become an accounting assistant. One is an ability to communicate well in verbal or written forms. That is because these assistants work to assist professional accountants and must be able to explain their findings as well as to generate written reports. Another requisite is the ability to work independently after being given an assignment. Accountant assistants should be able to work well in a team setting as well, especially when working for a large firm with many employees. As with most jobs today, being bilingual can be a big asset. The ability to multitask and prioritize is important because these workers often have several ongoing projects with different deadlines.

Becoming an accountant assistant can begin with a high school diploma but getting ahead in the job requires keeping abreast of new developments in the field. Getting an associate degree, or even a bachelor’s degree can be a great help. Many people take evening classes or even sign up for community education courses in things such as understanding computers and digital spreadsheets. Today’s technology will not replace humans in this field, but it might make it possible to do the same work with fewer employees. That means, especially in large businesses, that assistants will still be needed but competition for those jobs will be greater. As accountants rise to higher levels and begin to work in management, assistants will need to be able to do more complicated tasks and assume more responsibilities as well.

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How to Become an Accounting Assistant

Take Courses

While people do find jobs with only a high school diploma, it is increasingly hard to get a good position without at least an associate degree. If you have only a diploma, it would be wise to take some certification courses, or even audit some courses, to add to your resume.

Get a Degree

For those who want to get a more advanced position, it becomes imperative to have a degree. An associate program usually takes from 18 months to two years to complete. A bachelor’s degree takes four years, but it is possible to earn both online. That means someone could take a position as an accountant assistant with a diploma and then work on a degree while they were employed and gaining experience. Taking an internship, if you could afford the time, could also pay for itself in experience.

Become Certified

Professional certifications can be valuable. This is not the certified public accountant credential. To earn that you must have a minimum number of college credits and pass an exam among other requisites. This is certification in using Excel, for instance, or in reading spreadsheets. Many of these are offered by professional organizations and are affordable or even free.
Other certifications available include the Certified Bookkeeper credential offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Another is the Certified Accountant credential, offered by the National Association of Certified Public Accountants that requires applicants to pass an exam by offers study materials for the test. Accountant assistants might also consider the Certified Accounting Paraprofessional credential, for which you must have an associate or bachelor’s degree and one year of accounting or bookkeeping experience.

These, and other certifications tell a future employer that you are serious about the profession and that you intend to stay current in new developments and legalities in the field.

(Video) Accounting assistant job description and salary

Conclusion

Accountant assistants are valuable to most large businesses to assist them in time of added business volume. In small businesses, they may assume many of the responsibilities that certified accountants usually perform. They augment the workforce and free certified accountants such as CPA’s to perform more complex tasks. No longer are they merely responsible for clerical work, but they are experienced in the use of technology and in many aspects of accounting that were formerly only for those with higher college degrees. The key to getting great job is to accept a starting position and to gain the knowledge and experience that is available. That includes taking community college courses or courses offered by professional organizations, showing enthusiasm on the job and being responsible for working independently and meeting deadlines. You may decide to make the accounting assistant position your career and to leverage your experience to advance to management, or to use it as a foundation for becoming a fully licensed and competent certified professional accountant through further study and certification.

Related Resources:

  • Are Accounting Jobs Declining?
  • Can I Get an Associate’s Degree in Accounting?
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FAQs

Is accounts assistant same as accountant? ›

Accounting assistants provide administrative support to accountants. They typically work on payroll, bookkeeping, reporting, and miscellaneous tasks for the accountant.

What does it mean to be an accounting assistant? ›

An Accounting Assistant is a professional in charge of maintaining budgets and records. They also prepare invoices on behalf of clients or employers. Those in this role will be helping with day-to-day tasks related directly to their field, which means that precision is essential.

What makes you a good accounts assistant? ›

Accounts assistants are required to think logically and have a good grasp of numbers. But the softer skills that may help are: Good verbal and written communication skills. Excellent attention to detail.

How do I prepare for an accounting assistant interview? ›

Here are some general questions to prepare for in an accounting assistant interview:
  1. What makes you interested in accounting?
  2. What do you know about our company?
  3. Why did you apply for this role?
  4. What professional strengths would you bring to our team?
  5. How would you describe the role of an accounting assistant?
22 Jun 2021

Can an accounts assistant become an accountant? ›

Those accounting assistants who have a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field may advance to a role as a staff accountant, an auditor, or an accounting manager. After obtaining CPA certification, accounting assistants may also work as certified public accountants (CPAs).

What is another title for accounting assistant? ›

For example, some employers may refer to an Accounting Assistant as either an Accounts Payable Specialist or an Accounting Specialist.

What skills do you need to be an accounting assistant? ›

Accounting Assistant Essential Skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
  • Math skills to handle financial data.
  • Integrity and confidentiality.
  • Flexibility during tax time and audits.

What comes after assistant accountant? ›

You may start off as a trainee or accounts assistant and work your way up to a junior or assistant accountant whilst you are part qualified. Once you are a fully qualified accountant, you could become a senior accountant or work in management and earn a higher salary. Eventually, you could become a finance director.

How much is accounting assistant salary? ›

What can I earn as an Account Assistant? The average monthly salary for Account Assistant jobs in the Philippines ranges from PHP 23,000 to PHP 33,000.

Why should we hire you best answer for accounting position? ›

“I know your company is searching for someone with great attention to detail. I believe I am your candidate as I possess years of experience with the accounting softwares you use. Knowing the ins and outs of these programs will allow me to limit the amount of errors that slip by.

How do you introduce yourself as an assistant accountant? ›

Be confident, but don't overstep and show the employer that you're only interested in the job to satisfy your needs. Do not respond to the “Tell me about yourself”accounting interview question with examples from your personal life. Give professional examples on how your skills and experience fit the accountant role.

What should an accounting assistant do? ›

An accounting assistant's job description includes budgeting, reporting, and bookkeeping. These finance professionals also help manage accounts and prepare financial records. Unlike accounting clerks, accounting assistants provide administrative support to an organization's accounts department.

What are the 3 most important skills every accountant should have? ›

Strong written and oral communication. Organization and attention to detail. Analytical and problem solving skills. Time management.

What are 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›

10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

Which is higher accounting assistant or bookkeeper? ›

The difference between accounting clerks and bookkeepers is typically in their level within the organization, with a bookkeeper generally being a higher-level position. Bookkeepers and accounting clerks both help manage a company's financial records.

Is it hard to be an accounting assistant? ›

An accounts assistant is a varied role, which can often be quite challenging. It is a great entry level role and in some cases, your employer might subsidise a top-up degree for you. This is what you can expect from a role as an accounts assistant.

Is accounting assistant same as accounting clerk? ›

An accounting clerk is similar to an accounting assistant in that they both provide support to the accounting department. However, accounting assistants typically have more responsibilities, such as preparing financial statements and tax returns.

What is the lowest position in accounting? ›

The accounting pyramid organizes accounting-related job titles into a hierarchy that ranks them by responsibilities and deliverables, with bookkeepers at the bottom, accountants in the middle, and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the top.

What is the most entry level accounting job? ›

TOP ENTRY LEVEL JOBS IN ACCOUNTING
  • BOOKKEEPER. Bookkeepers track and record purchases, sales, and other financial transactions for individual clients or organizations. ...
  • ACCOUNTS PAYABLE SPECIALIST. ...
  • ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE CLERK. ...
  • AUDITING CLERK. ...
  • PAYROLL ADMINISTRATOR. ...
  • ASSISTANT CONTROLLER.

What is the highest position in accounting? ›

At the highest level of companies, job titles typically include controller, comptroller, treasurer, finance manager and chief financial officer (CFO). The CFO is usually the highest-ranking financial person at a business, working with other upper-level finance executives.

Is accounting assistant a good career? ›

Yes, being an accounting assistant is a good job.

This job is a good fit for people who want to gain experience in accounting. This position pays fairly well, and for people who also possess a bachelor's degree, good entry-level experience in becoming an accountant.

What are the 4 types of accountants? ›

These four branches include corporate, public, government, and forensic accounting. An undergraduate degree is most often required for any accounting career, while previous master's work, especially in the accounting field, is often strongly preferred. Below, we'll explore the nuances of each common area of accounting.

Is assistant accountant and junior accountant same? ›

A Junior Accountant has specific responsibilities in an organisation. They are mostly responsible for fulfilling basic accounting duties. On the other hand, an Accounting Assistant is responsible for helping all of the staff in the accounting department, including the Junior Assistant with their duties.

What assistant makes the most money? ›

10 PA specialties that earned the most in 2021
  • Cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery — $147,000.
  • Dermatology — $146,000.
  • Emergency medicine — $129,146.
  • Surgical subspecialties — $127,775.
  • Occupational medicine — $125,600.
  • Critical care — $124,886.
  • Neurosurgery — $124,000.
  • Urgent care — $123,517.
13 Jun 2022

How much is an accountant paid? ›

As of Nov 16, 2022, the average monthly pay for an Accountant in the United States is $4,775 a month.

How much is the salary of accounting manager? ›

What can I earn as an Accounting Manager? The average monthly salary for Accounting Manager jobs in the Philippines ranges from ₱50,000 to ₱60,000.

How do I sell myself as an accountant? ›

List your professional traits, such as trustworthiness and strong business and work ethics. Share what previous supervisors and colleagues say about your demeanor and your conscientiousness as an accountant. Depending on your career level, include recommendations from colleagues, supervisors and direct reports.

What is your greatest achievement in accounting? ›

10 types of achievements you can include

Achieved financial gain. Saved the company from spending money. Built and maintained strong client relationships. Advised clients on important issues like tax liabilities or fund security.

How do you introduce yourself in 30 seconds? ›

A 30-second introduction shares highlights about your interests, experience, strengths, accomplishments, and goals! Be sure to tailor your introduction to the industry or person you are speaking with. A well crafted introduction will make a strong first impression.

How do you introduce yourself in a catchy way? ›

You can use the below phrases to introduce yourself:
  1. I don't think we've met (before).
  2. I think we've already met.
  3. My name is ...
  4. I'm ...
  5. Nice to meet you; I'm ...
  6. Pleased to meet you; I'm ...
  7. Let me introduce myself; I'm ...
  8. I'd like to introduce myself; I'm ...
1 Sept 2021

What are the questions asked in assistant accountant interview? ›

Interview Questions for Accounting Assistants
  • What daily tasks do you expect to perform? ...
  • How would you handle an audit or discrepancy? ...
  • Do you have experience with accounting software? ...
  • Tell about a time when you successfully multitasked. ...
  • Describe your experience with applying accounting principles.

What should I say in an accounting interview? ›

How to answer Accounting interview questions
  • Why do you want to do accountancy?
  • Are you able to convey technical information to someone of more or less technical ability? ...
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you give examples of when you've helped a team be successful?
  • Why do you want to work for this firm?

What are 5 important qualities necessary for accounting careers? ›

6 Everyday qualities of an accountant you just might possess
  • You thrive behind the scenes. ...
  • You are detail-oriented and meticulous. ...
  • You see numbers and money differently. ...
  • You are tech savvy. ...
  • You have a strong sense of integrity. ...
  • You have a solid work ethic.
5 Aug 2019

What are the basic 5 things an accountant should be aware? ›

Basic Accounting Skills Every Professional Accountant Must Have!
  • Following is the list of few skills or technical expertise that every management accountant should be well-versed with:
  • 1) Interpersonal skills: ...
  • 2) Taxation. ...
  • 3) Analysis. ...
  • 4) Accounting basics. ...
  • 5) National certification. ...
  • 6) Accounting Software.
12 Dec 2018

What is the #1 rule in accounting? ›

1. Debit the receiver and credit the giver. The rule of debiting the receiver and crediting the giver comes into play with personal accounts. A personal account is a general ledger account pertaining to individuals or organizations. If you receive something, debit the account.

What are the 2 most important accounting principles? ›

Some of the most fundamental accounting principles include the following: Accrual principle. Conservatism principle.

What are the 5 basic accounts? ›

5 types of accounts in accounting
  • Assets. Asset accounts usually include the tangible and intangible items your company owns. ...
  • Expenses. An expense account can include the products or services a company purchases to help generate additional income. ...
  • Income. ...
  • Liabilities. ...
  • Equity.

What are the 8 hardest interview questions and answers? ›

The 10 hardest interview questions (and how to answer them)
  • Tell us about yourself. ...
  • What are your weaknesses? ...
  • Why do you want to change jobs? ...
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? ...
  • How Would Your Colleagues Describe You? ...
  • What did you like most/least about your last job? ...
  • Tell Me About a Mistake You've Made.
16 Jun 2021

What is the next job after accounts assistant? ›

Career path and progression

You may start off as a trainee or accounts assistant and work your way up to a junior or assistant accountant whilst you are part qualified. Once you are a fully qualified accountant, you could become a senior accountant or work in management and earn a higher salary.

What is an accountant also called? ›

Accountants can have more than one designation. But the most common accounting designations are the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Is accountant and Account Officer same? ›

An accountant is the person who “does the books”. They do the “accounting” for a business. An account officer “manages” the account of a customer, and this involves monitoring the performance of the account and advising the customer on investments to undertake.

Is assistant accountant same as junior accountant? ›

A Junior Accountant has specific responsibilities in an organisation. They are mostly responsible for fulfilling basic accounting duties. On the other hand, an Accounting Assistant is responsible for helping all of the staff in the accounting department, including the Junior Assistant with their duties.

How do you level up in accounting? ›

To work your way up the ladder, earn a degree in accounting, gain hands-on experience, and pursue licensure and higher education opportunities.
...
After you've moved through the mid level ranks, you'll be vying for one of these upper-level jobs:
  1. Tax director. ...
  2. Controller. ...
  3. Chief financial officer.
3 Sept 2019

What are the 2 types of accountants? ›

There are many types of accountants, including: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Management Accountant (including “cost” and “staff” accountant)

What is the best type of accountant? ›

A staff accountant is a great option for anyone who has a bachelor's degree in accounting and who wants a variety of work. Staff accountants generally report to a CPA, creating financial reports and analyzing financial data.

Which is better accounting clerk or accounting assistant? ›

An accounting clerk is similar to an accounting assistant in that they both provide support to the accounting department. However, accounting assistants typically have more responsibilities, such as preparing financial statements and tax returns.

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accounting assistant? ›

Bookkeepers and accountants occupy a continuum beginning with recording financial transactions and continuing through categorization, preparation of specialized reports, and financial analysis. In general, the bookkeeper's job is limited to recording transactions, while an accountant does the rest.

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