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How to Become an Accounts Payable Clerk

Do you enjoy working with numbers and reviewing data? Do you like the thought of working with vendors and suppliers? If so you may be well suited for a role as an accounts payable clerk.

AP clerks serve an important function for any organization that consistently uses a large number of vendors and suppliers. They ensure that invoices for goods and services are paid for in a timely manner, paying close attention to company budgets, processes, and vendor agreements. It’s a great role for detail-oriented professionals who are well organized, disciplined, and enjoy communicating with a wide variety of internal and external contacts on a daily basis.

Sample job description

Accounts payable clerks work under the supervision of the accounting manager and are responsible for receiving, processing, and verifying invoices. They handle all aspects of accounts payable, including purchase orders, bank deposits, and bills. They must be extremely accurate, able to meet payment schedules and deadlines, and have excellent attention to detail. [Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced accounts payable clerk to take our company to new levels. As an ideal candidate, you have experience in bookkeeping, working with accounting software, and processing payments. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Maintain petty cash
  • Log all incoming invoices and outgoing payments
  • Monitor all vendor contracts and supplier agreements
  • Identify discrepancies and resolve billing issues
  • Reconcile payable reports on a monthly basis
  • Keep track of all credits owed to the company and ensure they are appropriately applied to vendor payments

Education and experience

  • This position requires an associate’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

  • Strong bookkeeping and accounts payable skills
  • Proven experience calculating, posting, and managing financial records
  • Solid mathematical skills 
  • Proficiency with spreadsheets and accounting software
  • Attention to detail
  • High level of accuracy

Typical work environment

Accounts payable clerks typically work in office settings and spend most of their day in front of a computer. They generally work during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.

Typical hours

Typical hours for this position are between normal business hours from 9 AM to 5 PM. Some accounts payable clerks may have the option to work flexible schedules or full-time from home.  

Steps to become an Accounts Payable Clerk

Accounts payable clerks work in many different environments, and many institutions offer classes and certifications to help them improve their skills. If you’re looking for courses to help you with your accounting knowledge then online learning platforms like Udemy or Coursera are excellent choices. They can also help you prep for industry certifications as well. Once you have the necessary skills two of the best certificates for accounts payable clerks are: 

  • Certified Accounts Payable Professional (CAPP) – The CAPP sets you apart from your peers by designating that you have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to be successful as an accounts payable professional. This self-paced program contains 13 modules that thoroughly cover accounts payable best practices and procedures. Two or more years of work experience is required to obtain certification. The certification must be renewed every 2 years.
  • Accredited Payables Specialist (APS) – The APS shows your strong understanding of accounts payable fundamentals, best practices, and your commitment to accuracy and compliance. The self-study online program covers invoices, payments, internal controls, taxes, and more. Three years of experience is recommended without a degree and 1 year of experience with a degree. To maintain certification, you are required to complete 15 continuing education units per year. 

Career path

The first step to becoming an accounts payable clerk is earning an associate’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. Not only is this department depended on for its traditional function, but companies will be looking to accounts payable departments to supply essential data.