An accounting or accounts assistant does routine financial duties to support the company’s accounting system. She usually works as a part of an accounting team and may report to the staff accountant, the head of finance, or an accounting supervisor or manager. Solid knowledge of accounts receivable, accounts payable and financial principles is essential to this role.
An accounting assistant maintains accurate records of accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, payroll and other financial data. She prepares and issues invoices and credit memos, applies cash receipts, reconciles company revenue, monitors and follows up on outstanding account balances and generates financial reports. She might print and mail vendor checks and balance related statements, resolve purchase order problems and refer accounts to collections. An accounting assistant solves customer issues and performs general office tasks, such as answering the phone, typing letters and filing.
In some companies, an accounting assistant position may have various levels. For example, levels may range from 1 to 5, with 1 encompassing entry-level duties. As levels increase, so do an assistant’s responsibilities. If the position has two levels, at level 1, you might work under close supervision and exercise minimal personal judgment and discretion. At level 2, you might work independently, take initiative and apply considerable personal discretion and judgment. An employer may promote a lower-level accounting assistant to fill an open higher-level position.
To excel in this position, you need a good understanding of accounting principles, an analytical mind, and the ability to meet deadlines and communicate effectively. You also need sound knowledge of spreadsheets, accounting software, and bookkeeping and accounting terminology. Educational requirements vary by employer and level of duties. For example, for a level 1 position, a high school diploma plus 1 or more years of experience may suffice. For level 2, you might need 3 or more years of experience and at least a high school diploma. Level 3 might require 1 or more years of experience plus at least an associate degree. Level 4 might require 2 or more years of experience and at least an associate degree. Lastly, for level 5, you might need 3 or more years of experience plus an associate degree.
The salary for an accounting assistant varies by the scope of duties, with entry level being the lowest. An employer might favor candidates with degrees or technical accounting assistant diplomas. Working in this position makes you privy to sensitive financial data, so the ability to maintain confidentiality is vital.
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