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How to Become an Accounts Payable Specialist

Do you have a keen eye for detail? Do you excel at accounting and clerical tasks related to what a company owes to its suppliers? If so, a position as an accounts payable specialist might be an ideal one for you.

Accounts payable specialists play a vital role in assuring their organization’s bottom line and helping them manage and process their payments for the goods and services used every day.

This role is vital for balancing all the financials within a company, tracking budgets, monitoring vendor agreements and contracts, and confirming that all payments are correctly processed. If you are detail-oriented, have time management expertise, and effective communication skills, this may be a position where you can thrive.

Sample job description

The accounts payable specialist is responsible for accurate and timely processing of all invoices received by the company. They will also be responsible for maintaining vendor files and preparing weekly and monthly reports. The ideal candidate for this position is a detail-oriented individual with strong organizational skills and a good working knowledge of Microsoft Excel. You may be reviewing supplier invoices for accuracy and completeness, entering invoices into the accounting system, processing payments, maintaining vendor files, and preparing weekly and monthly reports.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Maintain petty cash
  • Log all outgoing disbursements
  • Monitor all vendor payment agreements
  • Be responsible for paying all sales taxes on relevant invoices
  • Verify discrepancies and resolve clients’ billing issues
  • Reconcile payable reports each month to confirm that all amounts paid were accurate
  • Keep track of all credits owed to the company and ensure they are appropriately applied to vendor payments

Education and experience

  • This position requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related discipline

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong organizational ability
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Effective corporate communication skills
  • Ability to consistently meet deadlines
  • Excellent data entry skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Proven experience in accounts payable
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Knowledge of accounting software packages

Typical work environment

The accounts payable specialist typically works in an office environment, with the opportunity to work both independently and as part of a team. Accounts payable specialists will typically work 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. You can expect to be sitting for the majority of your work day, but there will also be times that you will be moving around as you assist different employees or consumers.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for an accounts payable specialists are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may be necessary, depending on the needs and hours of an individual company.

Steps to become an Accounts Payable Specialist

If you want to stand out from the rest of the applicants, you can take classes that will help showcase your talents and knowledge. We recommend Udemy or Coursera for their wide libraries of accounting information. There are also excellent certifications you can obtain.

  • Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) – The CPP designation is designed for those who handle payroll functions or payroll management. To earn the CPP designation, you must pass an exam that covers seven main areas of knowledge. You’ll answer questions about core concepts like taxes and benefits. You’ll also be quizzed on compliance issues and calculation methods. Payroll systems and accounting are also addressed in this exam.

Career path

The first step to becoming an accounts payable specialist is earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or related field. Beyond that, candidates can gain skills and accreditation by earning accounting certifications like the Certified Accounts Payable Associate (CAPA).

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-3031

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

The accounts payable field is continually evolving. Rather than being viewed as a back-office function, accounts payable departments are beginning to be seen in a more strategically important way. In addition to depending on this department for its traditional function, companies will be looking to accounts payable departments to supply essential data.