The focus of an accounting assistant's job depends on the employer. Most accounting assistants record and process daily financial matters. Unlike a financial or accounting clerk, accounting assistants help with multiple areas of accounting and clerical work. Exact job descriptions vary by industry. Accounting assistants who work in real estate perform different job functions than professionals who work in healthcare. Accounting assistants provide crucial assistance to accounting and finance departments by processing incoming and ongoing payments. Some accounting assistants may need additional specialized skills and training to learn industry-specific rules and software. Typically, accounting assistants manage accounts receivable and payable. Duties may include making bank deposits or conducting bank reconciliations. These professionals also manage payroll and process employee expenses.
Accounting Assistant Career Overview
What is Accounting?
The accounting field provides ample employment opportunities for professionals with a range of educational backgrounds. The financial and business industry is growing faster than other sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field to grow 6% through 2028.
Accounting assistants can get in on the ground floor and advance in a field that offers room for growth as they gain more experience and education. Several industries need accounting assistants to help with payroll, assist with accounts receivable and payable, and handle month-end reconciliations. With certification and a higher college degree, individuals can work as an accountant, auditor, and certified public accountant (CPA). Continue reading this guide to learn more about the qualifications and skills you need to get a job as an accounting assistant.
What is an Accounting Assistant?
Accounting assistants support accountants, small-business owners, and finance directors. They work in finance and insurance, entertainment, healthcare, retail, and accounting. This entry-level position may not require a college degree, but employers typically prefer candidates who at least hold an associate degree in accounting or business. Accounting assistants primarily help with financial matters but they also answer phones and craft emails. Specific job duties depend on the workplace. Accounting assistants may handle payroll, manage accounts receivable and payable, and process customer payments. For specific duties, keep reading this guide.
What Does an Accounting Assistant Do?
What is their focus?
What skills do they need?
Accounting assistants need basic accounting, math, and administrative skills. Bookkeeping programs enable accounting assistants to track payments and deposits. Accounting assistants must be proficient in Excel and Word and familiar with QuickBooks. They also need strong problem-solving, time-management, and multitasking skills. Employers typically require accounting assistants to manage multiple time-sensitive assignments. To succeed as an accounting assistant, an individual must be able to work quickly and accurately. Employers may require other skills, depending on the company. For example, a retail company may prefer a candidate who possesses both accounting and retail experience. See below for more detailed descriptions of specific skills.
Who do they work for?
Nearly every accounting department needs accounting assistants. Typically, accounting assistants work desk jobs in offices; however, they may need to attend offsite meetings or workshops. While uncommon, some accounting assistants work on a freelance basis from home. Most accounting assistants work for insurance carriers, credit intermediation, healthcare, science and technical services, and administrative services. Employers also hire accounting assistants to manage financials at entertainment companies, real estate companies, roofing companies, and other retailers.
What Software is Used at the Job?
To help them perform their daily tasks, accounting assistants use various accounting software programs, including Excel or QuickBooks. They may also use industry-specific software programs that generate summaries or invoices. Accounting assistants use programs such as Microsoft Word and Outlook to complete clerical tasks. They must be able to work independently since most receive minimal supervision.
What are some job titles they might have?
An accounting assistant may have a title such as accounting associate, tax accounting assistant, accounting clerk, financial clerk, new accounts clerks, bookkeeper, or junior accountant. Job titles differ but job responsibilities remain similar. Specializations or concentrations in accounting associate programs allow accounting assistants to hone their skills for specialized occupations. As professionals gain more seniority within a company, they can take on higher-level titles, including senior accounting assistant, accountant, or CPA.
What are some specialties in this field?
Accounting assistants can find jobs in specific industries with specialized education. College courses in receivables or payables, forensic accounting, taxation, or professional accounting teach students specific skills for specialized careers. Accounting assistants can also earn certifications to find specialized work. Working professionals also gain specialized skills on the job.
What are the Responsibilities of an Accounting Assistant?
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Accounting Assistant?
|Find a Program||Spend some time researching accounting or business programs with a curriculum that suits your interests and classes that fit your schedule.|
|Submit an Application||Once you find a suitable program, gather all of the application materials and apply by the deadline.|
|Take a Specialty or Concentration||While in college, many programs allow accounting students to hone their interests by taking a specialty in taxation or forensic accounting.|
|Earn a Degree||Complete the required credits and meet GPA requirements to earn your associate or bachelor's degree in accounting or business.|
|Learn Excel and QuickBooks||While in school, students learn about computerized accounting and how to use spreadsheets and create formulas in Excel. They may also learn how to use software such as QuickBooks.|
|Study Fraud Examination||College classes teach students how to detect and prevent fraud within a company. Fraud examination skills strengthen an accounting assistant's resume.|
|Learn Payroll Accounting||To complete payroll, accounting assistants must process payments for employees, verify paycheck accuracy, calculate overtime, and prepare tax reports.|
|Written and Oral Communication Skills||College classes in English and speech help students hone their writing and oral communication skills.|
|Time Management||Taking online classes requires students to manage their time, a skill that comes in handy in the workplace.|
|Multitasking||Much like online students, accounting assistants must manage multiple tasks while meeting deadlines.|
|Accounting Practices||Every accounting department follows a system of practices to perform and record financial transactions. Students learn this in school and on the job.|
|Tax Accounting||Accounting assistants become familiar through experience and education with the Internal Revenue Service's tax rules as they apply to businesses.|
|Business Law||Working professionals in accounting must possess a firm understanding of the commercial laws that govern businesses.|
How are Accounting Assistants Employed?
See below for a list of some areas accounting assistants may work.
Professional, Science, and Technical Services
This large sector includes a variety of fields. Accounting assistants who work in professional, scientific, and technical services may work in accounting and tax preparation, legal services, or computer system designs.
Online and brick-and-mortar shops comprise the retail sector. Accounting assistants work in the finance departments of retail companies, preparing monthly bank reconciliations. They also complete other tasks, such as processing accounts payable invoices.
Hospitals, clinics, social assistance programs, and nursing and residential care facilities employ accounting assistants to manage their incoming and outgoing finances.
Finance and Insurance
Accounting assistants also work in finance and insurance. Their duties include handling accounts receivable or accounts payable. They may also assist in month-end closing tasks.
This industry includes private and government agencies. Accounting assistants employed in credit intermediation may work in a bank.
Learn More About Accounting Assistants and Take the First Step Today!
Explore Salary Information and Career Outlook for Accounting Assistants
Learn How to Become an Accounting Assistant
Explore Accounting Degree Programs
Professional Organizations for Accounting Assistants
- American Association of Finance & Accounting Since 1978, AAFA has helped recruit employees for accounting and finance positions. Job seekers can submit their resumes and search for job opportunities through the website.
- Young CPA Network The Young CPA Network, part of AICPA, offers aspiring CPAs advice from working professionals, access to the outstanding young CPA award, and a four-day leadership academy.
- American Accounting Association The AAA's career center offers a career fair and workshops at annual meetings to help applicants. Job seekers can also post their resumes and search for jobs.
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Accounting assistants can take advantage of AICPA's continuing professional education opportunities, including eLearning courses, webcasts, conferences, and certifications.
- The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business IMA's Education Center offers webinars and more than 500 courses. Members can also find career resources on the website.