Accounting is a very wide career field, and the job responsibilities can range from record keeping and reporting to financial consulting and auditing.
Although a majority of accounting jobs require at least one year of relevant work experience, graduates have the opportunity to start accounting careers in several entry-level positions. There is also the option for graduates to open a private practice and work as an external accountant for individuals or companies.
A bookkeeper or bookkeeping clerk is usually responsible for generating reports for managers and supervisors, maintaining fiscal records, recording financial transactions, and tracking client or customer accounts. Most of the time, they keep track of multiple accounts at a time, posting income and costs for the companies with which they are employed.
The specific duties of a bookkeeper, however, will vary according to the size and needs of the companies. For example, they could manage payroll and prepare bank deposits, invoices and tax documents. The main industries that hire bookkeepers are health care, insurance, professional services, retail and wholesale.
Accounting clerks take care of a range of accounting and office responsibilities such as calculating accounts, determining interest charges and posting transaction details. They could also monitor accounts and loans to keep payments up to date. However, many companies divide these tasks into more specific roles.
Accounts payable clerks communicate with contractors about bills, file and maintain financial records and receipts, and issue payments that are owed to external organizations.
Accounts receivable clerks collect and record the payments, contact clients about invoices, and file and maintain related records. Auditing clerks review the records and reports to ensure accuracy, making corrections as necessary.
An accounting assistant often works for a senior accountant to support the financial needs of an organization. The variety of tasks that the assistant may be responsible for include answering and making phone calls, billing, and filing and maintaining records.
Some of them also perform fundamental bookkeeping duties such as calculating debits and deposits, entering financial details and preparing the ledger for the senior accountant’s approval. Accounting assistants could also liaise with financial institutions to ensure that funds are available for company expenses and that all accounts are balanced. Due to these responsibilities, they need to have good communication and organizational skills as well as be familiar with accounting software and office procedures.
There are a range of public accountant roles with accounting firms for graduates, but they may also open private practices. As employees, entry-level accountants in this field could be called junior associates. They generally perform accounting functions for nonprofit organizations and small businesses or serve in financial positions in government agencies.
The primary duties of public accountants include auditing financial records for accuracy and legal compliance, calculating income, creating reports, maintaining financial data, preparing taxes and providing financial advice. These responsibilities generally require that they use special accounting management systems and software.
Budget analyst, which may be referred to as budget accountant or cost estimator, is an entry-level job in the field of management or private accounting. As employees, they work within companies, organizations or government agencies to analyze finances, manage assets and financial records, and track payroll. They could also develop budgets, monitor trends in costs and revenues, plan financial strategies, and report to account or finance managers. Some budget analysts may prepare recommendations for the allocation of financial resources based on the business model and needs of their employers. These duties require them to be knowledgeable in business analytics, information technology management and predictive accounting.
While budget analyst and public accountant jobs generally require at least a bachelor’s degree, the accounting clerk and bookkeeping jobs don’t always require a degree. However, students who want a chance to advance their accounting careers need to earn at least an associate’s degree, which is required for accounting assistant positions.