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How To Become An Accounting Assistant
Teamwork makes the dream work. It is an important and well-known notion that if you want to do something successfully and effectively, you need to have a great support system. Whether you are a sports team, an organization, a business, or a two-man band, support, teamwork, and cohesiveness are the only way to ensure success.
When looking at the roles of accountants, we cannot look past the important roles that accounting assistants or accounting clerks play in the financial division of a company. Their roles are vital in executing the daily financial operations within a company.
To become an accounting assistant, you would need to first obtain your high school diploma, then pursue either an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in accounting. You would then need to obtain the appropriate certification, so you have knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles.
Let us take a closer look at the job description of an accounting assistant and the detailed steps you would need to take to pursue this career.
What Is An Accounting Assistant?
As qualified and certified financial professionals, accounting assistants fulfill entry-level roles in providing support and assistance in the day-to-day tasks that need to be completed by financial managers, accountants, or senior-level accounting professionals.
They provide and fulfill a wide array of services and duties which includes conducting bookkeeping processes, keeping track of documentation, fact-checking, being in control of a company's general ledger and recording all financial transactions, drafting financial reports under the supervision of their seniors, and conducting general administrative duties that usually streamline financial operations.
Accounting assistants may find themselves working in roles within the financial division of large corporations, businesses, NGOs, or governmental organizations, or they may find themselves working within an accounting firm.
While an accounting assistant does not necessarily need to have an advance degree, it is recommended that they have either experience or a qualification in the field of accounting, finances, or any other related field. This will allow them to have an understanding of basic financial and accounting principles.
While certification is not a requirement in some states, it is recommended that those hoping to pursue this career obtain a certified bookkeeper credential obtained from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, especially if your role sees you responsible for managing all financial records.
As an accounting assistant, you will hold many internal and external responsibilities. You will be responsible for making payments out of the organization and recording payments that come into the organization. You will also perform internal roles of executing payroll operations to make sure that all your colleagues are paid on time and in full.
While you may not be a tax accountant, you could probably bet that your hands would be full when tax season rolls around making sure that all documentation is true and correct, and helping financial managers, accountants, and auditors make sure that the correct documentation has been submitted.
Even though you are not fulfilling the role of an accountant, you would need to make sure that you have a working understanding of the accounting software that is used in the organization at which you work.
What Does An Accounting Assistant Do?
You will draft and send invoices and receipts; you will keep track of those who owe the company money, and you will be responsible for conducting follow-ups and ensuring that interest is billed correctly to each client. You will reconcile bank statements, manage insurance claims, answer phones, take meeting minutes, and schedule meetings and appointments for senior staff members.
Depending on the size of the organization in which you work, you may be tasked with doing more or fewer duties.
Considering that all financial data of a company is digitalized, you would need to be tech-savvy and have an understanding of how to use computers and the digital programs that are required to perform your duties.
What Is The Work Environment?
You will work at an office pace, and you will most likely work a 9 to 5 job. Considering that you will be working with sensitive financial information and that you may be expected to physically handle cash, depending on the nature of the organization in which you work, there may not be any possibility for remote work.
Steps To Become An Accounting Assistant
Step One: Find Your Path
Knowing that you want to work in the field of accounting is something that you would need to decide on during your high school career. Whether you are working toward a higher degree and working in this role for the time being, or whether you are hoping to find your career in this role, you would need to have a passion for working with numbers and have analytical and problem-solving skills.
Knowing that this is the career path you are hoping to pursue will also serve as a guide in selecting high school subjects and university coursework if you do choose to pursue an accounting degree.
Step Two: Obtain Qualification
While not generally required in some states, other states may require you to have either an associate's or a bachelor's degree in accounting to pursue the role of an accounting assistant. This would ensure that you have a basic understanding of financial operations, and it may show a willingness to learn if this is your first job.
Step Three: Find A Role
You would then need to find a vacant position that you would like to work in. This would involve you gaining on-the-job experience and training from senior-level employees who will provide you with insight into the company's financial operations.
Step Four: Consider Gaining Certification
If you are hoping to become a certified public bookkeeper, you may be motivated to obtain a certification. This will prove to be beneficial in your role and may greatly contribute to your success in the role you currently hold. This may also provide you with greater growth prospects and allow you to propel your career forward.
What Skills Do You Need To Be An Accounting Assistant?
You would need to be able to correctly execute accounts payable and receivables, you would need to be computer literate and have knowledge of digital accounting programs, you would need to have data-entry skills, be able to effectively communicate with people, and you would need to be extremely organized, and detail orientated.
How Much Does An Accounting Assistant Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earn a median annual salary of $45,560.
Is There Upward Mobility For Accounting Assistants?
If you choose to further your education, your chances of career growth are exponentially enhanced.
Is A bookkeeper The Same As An Accounting Assistant?
While there may be some overlap in job duties where both roles conduct the same duties within different organizations, bookkeepers have a greater focus on recording financial transactions.
Entering the field of finances and accounting is extremely exciting, especially considering the vast opportunities that await you. If you are looking for a way to get your foot in the door, the best place to start is in the role of an accounting assistant.
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