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How to Become an Accounting Assistant

If you’re looking for a career opportunity in the finance industry, an accounting assistant is a great position to begin your career. An accounting assistant supports the accounting department and performs clerical tasks. To excel at this position, you must be detail-oriented, reliable, and have strong communication skills. 

An accounting assistant is responsible for assisting accountants with bookkeeping and other related duties. This career is an entry-level finance position that has an opportunity for promotion and an endless opportunity for growth. 

This career opportunity involves a large range of tasks and responsibilities. It is important that workers in this position know basic mathematics and can work with computer accounting software as well as basic computer skills.

Sample job description

We are looking for an inspired individual who is an excellent communicator, multitasker, and has great time management skills to become our next accounting assistant. You should be accurate and motivated to work for our company. Our ideal candidate will be able to work in a fast paced environment and should have a great deal of accuracy. As an accounting assistant, you will support our financial team and help our department run smoothly. You must have 2+ years of experience or strong entry-level skills in financial administration. You must also work well under pressure and be independent. Your duties will include reconciling bank statements, making financial documents, and collecting payments, just to name a few. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Support the accounting department
  • Prepare financial reports
  • Handle communications in person, by phone, and by email
  • Perform basic office duties 
  • Process transactions
  • Evaluate financial statements and expenses
  • Draft and report financial statements
  • Create and update expense reports
  • Process reimbursements
  • Reconcile invoices
  • Prepare bank deposits
  • Check spreadsheets
  • Review and file payroll documents
  • Assist accountants and other financial professionals 
  • Organize bookkeeping processes

Education and experience

  • High school diploma
  • Accounting assistant certificate
  • Associates degree in a related field
  • Work experience in a related field
  • Bookkeeping experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Skilled with computers and bookkeeping software
  • Strong computer and typing skills
  • Time management skills 
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Applications
  • Ability to work independently
  • Manage priorities while meeting deadlines
  • Math skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Familiarity with financial regulations and procedures
  • Organization skills
  • Ability to multitask 
  • Ability to prioritize important and time-sensitive tasks
  • Customer service
  • Knowledge of accounting software

Preferred qualifications

You can expect to advance in an accounting assistant position very quickly if you are dedicated to your career and improve your skills on the job. Obtaining new skills and certifications can result in a promotion or bonus. 

Typical work environment

Accounting assistants work for corporations as a part of their accounting or finance departments. They may also work for private institutions, government agencies, and individuals. An accounting assistant usually works in an office setting but can travel from place to place. Leaving the office may be required to attend meetings with clients, customers, or coworkers. The work environment can include professional, scientific, and technical services industries.

Typical hours

Accounting assistants work typical hours from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. During busy times of the year, overtime is common due to the end of the financial year and tax time. There are possibilities for part time and flexible hours which are usually obtained by freelance accounting assistants.

Steps to become an Accounting Assistant

Those who want to become an accounting assistant should study accounting and receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Online learning platforms like Coursera or Udemy have many classes on key accounting skills to help you on your path. There are also several certifications you can pursue, such as:

  • Accounting Assistant Certification – To receive this certification, one must pass the uniform accounting certification examination and complete an accounting principles course.
  • Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) – CPBs must pass a four-part exam, complete 24 hours of continuing education each year, and agree to abide by a professional code of conduct.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – A CPA will need to take a licensure exam, and each state varies on what their requirements are. However, most candidates will need to have a bachelor’s or master’s in accounting.
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – This certification goes one step beyond a CPA. Most candidates getting a CMA do so before applying for executive-level positions

Career path

An accounting assistant can work their way up from being an assistant to more complex positions. Some choices of career paths for assistants include an accountant, auditor, and accounting manager. Accountants calculate payrolls, create financial statements and reports, and calculate all other expenses.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-3030

2020 Employment1,620,000
Projected Employment in 20301,571,900
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 3% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift48,100 decrease

Due to the ongoing advancements in technology, accounting assistants are on the downward trend. From 2020 to 2030, there is a decline of 3%. This loss includes about 48,100 positions in this industry, which is a fairly large decline. 

The recent pandemic has impacted the world of technology more than ever before. Now more than ever, workers are working remotely from home and changing the way we can go to work without leaving home. The use of technology in day-to-day work is already very substantial in today’s world. The increase in automation has replaced some accounting assistant positions. In the next 10 years, we can expect to see robot automation taking over jobs that can be automated.