Depending on the type of employer, a staff accountant may work on a team, under supervision of a senior accountant or perform all of the accounting functions. Whatever the setting, staff accountants assume the responsibility of tracking the financial conditions of their companies and protecting them against waste, fraud, and inefficiency. Below, you can find a full staff accountant job description including skills, job duties and job outlook.
Job Overview: What Does a Staff Accountant Professional Do?
Staff accountants must apply math, computer and financial skills to help senior accountants and their organizations’ leadership know the financial status of their organizations. The staff accountant job description also includes ensuring that the company or organization satisfies obligations to employees, other creditors and regulators. In a large company or accounting firm, the staff accountant likely will answer to a senior-level accountant, directors or a chief financial officer.
Staff Accountant Job Duties
- Track and calculate the organization’s revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities and cash flows for each year and for other periods of time.
- Organize and maintain financial records.
- Tabulate and pay the company’s income and other taxes.
- Administer or assist in the administration of payroll for the company or organization.
- Prepare, examine and interpret financial statements.
- Post transactions to and maintain general ledger.
- Reconcile monthly statements for bank accounts.
- Present findings and recommendations for financial performance based on examination or preparation of financial statements.
- Assist company or organization in auditing and internal controls.
Staff Accountant Essential Job Skills
Financial and Business. The staff accountant job description entails the application of business and financial principles. For example, the staff accountant must know when and how to depreciate equipment, records sales and determine whether items constitute accounts receivables or accounts payable. Financial and business skills also include the calculation of debt-to-equity and other financial ratios to help illustrate the organization’s financial health.
Analytical. A staff account must be able to carefully examine and interpret financial statements, spot inconsistencies between the statements and supporting financial records, and find deficiencies in an organization’s internal controls. Analytical skills also include determining the company’s financial status and finding where an organization is losing money.
Computer. Spreadsheet software helps staff accountants calculate account balances, financial ratios, and items on financial statements. Staff accounts also need computer skills to find weaknesses in the security of systems and data collection and processing. According to O*NET, approximately 78 percent of accountants reported that they used the email every day in performing their work.
Communication. Within the staff accountant job description lies the necessity of communicating findings and recommendations to senior accountants, board members, executive directors and other management. Staff accounts also need to be able to inform other employees concerning matters such as reducing costs, improving the reliability of financial data or ensuring the proper payment of wages, salaries, invoices and other liabilities of the company.
Becoming a Staff Accountant
The staff accountant job description calls upon these professionals to have a background and experience in business, accounting, finance and working with computers. Staff accountants rely on a combination of education and prior work history to obtain employment.
Qualifications and Training
To become a staff accountant in general, the applicant must normally have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related discipline, such as business administration or finance. Smaller employers, including non-profits, will accept accountants with an associates’ degree combined with work experience.
Staff accountants who advise public clients or file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission must be certified public accountants. Even where having a CPA is not required, certain employers may require or prefer staff accountants who are CPAs. In general, earning a CPA title requires 150 credit hours. Although most states do not require a Master’s Degree to become a CPA, the candidate can earn both a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s of Accounting in five years.
Certain employers may require, or prefer, that applicants have or be actively pursuing a license as a certified public accountant. For such aspiring staff accountants, at least two years of experience in public accounting is required in most jurisdictions. Internships or bookkeeping work also affords a relevant work history to become a staff accountant.
Even where a staff accountant does not need or seek a CPA, work experience in accounting is typically necessary. The required or preferred duration varies by employer. The type of employer can also shape the necessary experience. For example, staff accountants for public school systems or government agencies should have some prior background in or exposure to governmental accounting. To read more about the field of accounting, we suggest reading the accountant job description.
Additionally, with two years of experience, a management accountant can earn recognition as a “Certified Management Accountant” by the Institute of Management Accountants.
In general, a staff accountant is a full-time employee. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately twenty percent of accountants logged more than 40 hours a week. For certain nonprofits, a work week may be less than 40 hours.
Depending on work setting, staff accountants may commonly work beyond traditional office hours. Evenings and weekend work may arise especially as tax filing deadlines or the end of accounting or budget years approach. In particular, governmental bodies have budget years that start and end during a calendar year.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
According to the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants should grow by 142,400 positions, or 11 percent, by 2014. Factors such as increasingly complex tax and financial regulations, the globalization of the economy and economic growth will drive the demand for staff accountants. These professionals will be needed to help banks and other lenders comply with rules and standards for granting loans and other credit.
Certified public accountants and others with professional credentials should find the best opportunities for employment. While staff accountants have strong prospects for entry-level jobs, strong academic performance and experience are typically needed to land positions with larger companies or accounting firms.
Generally, staff accountants can advance with experience and performance to positions such as senior accountant, accounting manager, financial controller, accounting director, finance director and even chief financial officer.
In public accounting firms, starting staff accountants log one to two years before advancing to positions with more duties and responsibilities. From there, staff accountants occupy management or senior roles and can even reach partner or principal status. Staff managerial accountants begin as trainees, cost accountants or other junior roles. Experience can lead these staff members to directorships or even executive-level management.
As organizations seek to reduce costs, improve financial performance and comply with a myriad of laws and regulations, staff accountants will have fairly strong prospects for employment. As mentioned in the staff accountant job description, education, experience, and skills in business, accounting, math, computers and analysis should help aspiring staff accounts find positions.
To conclude, employers in the business, nonprofit, and governmental sector rely on staff accountants with these skills and backgrounds for the preparation of accurate statements and audits, discovery of financial or other problems and payment of obligations.