What is an Accounting Assistant?

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.

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.

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.

Education

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 financial accounting, principles of management, managerial accounting, and accounting software applications. 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.

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.