Accounting Associate Job Description
Accounting associates assist auditors and accountants with basic accounting and bookkeeping functions, such as preparing invoices, managing client accounts, preparing reports, and other clerical activities. Accounting associates are either employed by accounting firms or within the accounting department of an organization. Accounting roles are virtually recession-proof since every industry needs accounting. If they’re employed by a tax or public accounting firm, then there may be certain seasons that involve working more than 40 hours a week, but for the most part, this is a typical 9-to-5 office job.
The accounting associate is an entry-level position that typically answers to either the financial services manager or a senior accountant. Most people in this role are young professionals fresh out of college looking for their first real-world accounting experience. Success in this role requires a willingness to learn and perform a wide variety of tasks in the name of work experience. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, which includes accounting associates, is set to shrink one percent through 2026.
Accounting Associate Duties and Responsibilities
Accounting associates perform a variety duties to assist both accountants and auditors with financial tasks. We analyzed accounting associate job descriptions to put together the following list of accounting associate duties and responsibilities.
Prepare Financial Reports
One of the most important duties of the accounting associate is preparing financial reports. They prepare these reports for analysis that is conducted by a certified accountant. Since most accounting associates are working towards their CPA, they may assist with the analysis.
Assist With Tax Returns or Audits
Accounting associates function as the assistant to the accountant or auditor they work under. This involves performing low-level tasks associated with the tax return or audit process.
Provide Basic Accounting and Bookkeeping Support to Clients
Under the guidance of their direct supervisor, accounting associates provide basic bookkeeping and accounting support to their clients. This involves tasks such as reviewing their financial statements for inaccuracies and monitoring financial activity.
Monitor and Document Travel and Client Meeting Expenses
It is up to accounting associates to keep track of all the expenses that go along with servicing clients, which includes things such as travel expenses and meals with clients.
Keep Track of and Verify Accounts Payable and Receivable
Accounting associates are the ones who, under the guidance of their supervisor, keep track of and verify all the money going into and out of the business through accounts payable and receivable.
Accounting Associate Skills
The role of accounting associate involves a lot of specialized knowledge and technical skills, but it also requires some universal soft skills to be successful. Accounting associates have to be wizards with Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel. They use spreadsheets to prepare financial statements and keep track of their employer’s or client’s finances. Aspiring accounting associates have to have a good eye for detail and the ability to maintain focus for long periods of time to succeed in this position. They also have a strong knowledge of the foundational principles of accounting and a willingness to learn how classroom theory applies in the real world. Finally, accounting associates have to be able to thrive in a deadline-driven environment, as things get hectic during the busy season. In addition to these qualities, aspiring accounting associates have to have these skills to find employment:
- Possess a student mentality and show a willingness to take on more responsibility
- Preparing financial statements using knowledge of basic accounting and bookkeeping
- Organizing and monitoring accounts payable and receivable
- Collaborating with supervisors and other accounting associates to complete various tasks
- Analyzing employer or client financial records and correcting inaccuracies
Accounting Associate Tools of the Trade
Other than a computer, accounting associates don’t use many tools. The following are software they use on a daily basis:
- Microsoft Office Suite – whether for creating financial statements or writing summary reports, accounting associates rely on Microsoft Office Suite daily
- Bookkeeping Software – accounting associates use bookkeeping software to perform basic bookkeeping tasks
Accounting Associate Education and Training
An associate’s degree in accounting, which takes two years to complete, is required to be an accounting associate. However, accounting associates with an associate’s degree may be competing against candidates who possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Coursework includes economics, financial accounting, business ethics, public accounting, and bookkeeping.
Accounting Associate Salary
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, which includes accounting associates, is $38,390. Those in the top 10 percent make above $59,630 and those in the bottom 10 percent make below $23,880.
Accounting Associate Resources
Those interested in pursuing a career as an accounting associate should check out the following list of resources:
The American Accounting Association – Founded in 1916, this organization is one of the oldest professional organizations for those in the field of accounting. Its website contains a calendar of upcoming events, which includes local meetings and regional conferences. It also has a list of affiliated publications.
The National Society of Accountants – Founded in 1945, the National Society of Accountants has thousands of members around the country. It is dedicated to the professional development of its members and helping members find career opportunities. In addition to in-person events, the website also has webinars.
Re: The Auditors – This is a must-read blog for accounting associates who work in public accounting. Written by Francine Mckenna, it is regularly updated with articles from around the web regarding the world of auditing.
TaxProf Blog – Although not specifically related to the role of accounting associate, this is an excellent blog to read for those who want to specialize in tax accounting. It is edited by Paul L. Caron, dean of the law school at Pepperdine University.
Fundamentals of Financial Accounting – This book on financial accounting is used on many college campuses around the country. It has various tools built in to help those new to financial accounting grasp and retain the information.
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