Staff Accountant Job Description
Staff accountants work with organizations to gather financial data and prepare and issue financial statements in accordance with legal guidelines. Staff accountants typically manage accounts payable and receivable, ensuring that transactions are correctly entered in internal systems and that balance sheets are regularly reconciled.
This role exists in a number of industries, including both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. In either case, accountants typically have a few years of experience within an organization’s accounting department or at a CPA firm before they begin working as staff accountants. This role requires excellent attention to detail and organization, along with knowledge of financial accounting and reporting best practices.
Staff Accountant Duties and Responsibilities
While the staff accountant’s day-to-day responsibilities can vary from company to company, they typically share several core duties:
Prepare Financial Statements
One of the staff accountant’s most central duties is preparing an organization’s financial statements and ensuring that they’re correct and issued on time. The staff accountant ensures that financial data is correctly entered in spreadsheets and accounting programs, and that quarterly and annual financial statements and tax forms are issued according to guidelines such as the Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS).
Manage Payments and Expenses
Staff accountants collaborate with accounts payable and receivable personnel to manage invoices and payments. In this aspect of the role, the staff accountant issues payments and invoices, recording them to support financial reporting activities. The staff accountant also ensures that these expenses, payments, and received amounts are recognized in balance sheets and cash flow reports.
Maintain Financial Records
Throughout the fiscal year, staff accountants maintain detailed financial records using spreadsheets or specific accounting software. These records can include amounts received and paid, along with investment and interest records to support financial reporting and tax compliance. Staff accountants may also periodically examine this financial data and complete backups to prevent data loss.
Improve Processes and Procedures
Many staff accountants support the activities of their departments and the organization as a whole by identifying areas for improvement. This can include strengthening internal processes for cash flow management and financial reporting, as well as bolstering information security or enhancing software utilization to improve the speed and accuracy of reporting. Staff accountants may work with staff members in specific departments to identify areas where data reporting and retention can be improved.
Provide Audit and Merger Support
Finally, staff accountants may provide support to third-party accountants and auditors during a financial audit or during merger and acquisition processes. This generally includes locating and preparing financial records and data and ensuring that it’s presented to the auditor or third-party examiner as requested. The staff accountant may also need to request specific data from individual departments to aid in due diligence and financial audits.
Staff Accountant Skills and Qualifications
Staff accountants work in a variety of organizations, where they handle tax and financial reporting and audits. Companies tend to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree, several years of accounting experience, and the following skills:
- Financial reporting – staff accountants prepare financial statements, tax returns, and bank reports according to internal and external guidelines, so they should be very familiar with accounting and reporting practices
- Data management – this role requires strong data management skills, as staff accountants need to enter financial data into computer systems to support financial reporting
- Attention to detail – staff accountants must ensure that they follow proper procedures for gathering, handling, and reporting financial data, so a high level of attention to detail is necessary
- Team coordination – staff accountants tend to work with teams and across departments, so effective coordination and collaboration is frequently needed
- Communication skills – excellent written and verbal communication skills are vital in this role, whether preparing reports, working with external auditors, or collaborating with team members
Tools of the Trade
Staff accountants tend to work in office settings using standard office software and equipment in addition to the following:
- Accounting software (QuickBooks, Zoho Books)
Staff Accountant Education and Training
Staff accountants typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, along with several years of accounting experience at a CPA firm or within an organization’s accounting department. They should also be very familiar with tax laws and financial reporting standards. Additional education and periodic CPA or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) recertification are also frequently required for staff accountants.
Staff Accountant Salary and Outlook
Staff accountant salaries can depend largely on the organization or industry in which the accountant works. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does maintain general salary data related to accountants. The BLS found that accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $69,350. The highest-paid 10 percent of accountants and auditors earn more than $122,220, while the lowest-paid workers in this role earn less than $43,020.
The BLS expects employment of accountants and auditors to grow at a slightly faster-than-average pace of 10 percent through 2026.
We searched the web and found many resources if you’d like to learn more about working as a staff accountant, prepare for CPA exams, or connect with others in the field:
Association of International Certified Public Accountants – AICPA is a professional organization that provides continuing education materials, publications, and conferences for accountants who work in a range of industries
All You Need to Know about Accounting and Accountants: A Student’s Guide to Careers in Accounting – this book explores various accounting careers and employment paths, including information on working as a staff accountant
“Roles and Importance of Professional Accountants in Business” – read this blog post to learn about the value of a staff accountant and how they can help businesses of any size succeed and grow
McGraw-Hill Education: 2,000 Review Questions for the CPA Exam – prepare for CPA examinations with this in-depth study guide, which provides examples of multiple choice questions related to test subjects
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