Becoming an Accounting Assistant

An accounting assistant is an entry-level job in the accounting field. It typically requires an accounting assistant certificate to gain employment. Maintaining records, typing reports and assisting an accountant are a few of the daily job responsibilities. There are several careers in accounting. Not only can one be an accounting assistant but occupations such as bookkeeping, accounting clerks, cost estimators, financial examiners and post-secondary teachers are just a few. An accounting assistant is an entry-level job that provides plenty of opportunities to learn about the industry and grow within the profession. As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary of $42,410 for accounting assistants (categorized by the BLS as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks).

Accounting assistants will assist the accountant by maintaining accurate records of daily transactions, payroll, inventories, accounts payable and accounts receivable. They may assist in the preparation of financial statements and compile financial data. Sometimes accounting assistants are called upon to perform basic office responsibilities such as handling the mail, answering the telephone, typing correspondence and assisting customers. There is room for advancement as an accounting assistant. As skills grow assistants can be advanced to full-charge bookkeeper, manager or supervisor. Some companies have different classifications of accounting assistants based on experience;

  • An entry level assistant would perform basic job duties while learning procedures, process and methods of the work
  • An intermediate assistant builds on entry level skills by working on assignments that develop skills
  • An assistant at the experienced level performs a wide variety of assignments and is able to make decisions and judgments based on policies and procedures
  • Advanced level assistants are the lead worker and oversee the work of others

Obtaining an accounting assistant certificate can be done in one or two full-time semesters. Programs will prepare the student according to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in processing financial information. The student will also learn to prepare payroll and tax reports as well as use computerized accounting programs.

Accounting career information can vary by college, but usually to enter into an accounting assistant program the student will need to submit high school information or its equivalent, take the college assessment test and meet with an admissions counselor. The program will require completion of courses such as:

  • Financial accounting
  • Principles of management
  • Managerial accounting
  • Accounting software applications
  • Spreadsheet applications

When students obtain their accounting assistant certificate they will be able to find employment in entry level accounting positions. People who are considering becoming an accounting assistant will be required to perform arithmetical calculations, work with percentages and decimals, able to write clearly and to type and key in entries. Other skills include reconciling balance amounts accurately, using mathematical schedules, define problems and have the ability to organize, analyze and draw valid conclusions. Being able to deal with tax return forms and run payroll following Government regulations are other important skillsets.

Accounting assistants usually work regular office hours, Monday through Friday from 9 am.-5 p.m. inside an office. Sometimes travel is required if a client needs assistance. The day is typically spent working at a computer most of the time. Businesses that usually hire accounting assistants include tax offices, auditing firms, accounting firms, accounts payable and receivable as well as organizations of all sizes. Most assistants work full-time, however there are part-time and flexible opportunities available.

Anyone who loves numbers and details would fit well into the accounting assistant career path. There is room for advancement and the job outlook is growing at an average pace. Now that the fundamentals of this entry-level position have been explained, enroll in a program and be working within a year.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks represent national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data Accessed May 2021.