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An accounting or accounts assistant performs routine financial duties to support the company’s accounting system. They usually work as part of an accounting team and may report to the staff accountant, the head of finance, or an accounting supervisor or manager. Solid knowledge of accounts receivable, accounts payable and financial principles is essential to this role.
An accounting assistant maintains accurate records of accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, payroll and other financial data. They prepare and issue invoices and credit memos, applies cash receipts, reconciles company revenue, monitors and follows up on outstanding account balances and generates financial reports. They might print and mail vendor checks and balance statements, resolve purchase order problems and refer accounts to collections. An accounting assistant solves customer issues and performs general office tasks, such as answering the phone, typing letters and filing.
Duties Based on Level
In some companies, an accounting assistant position may have various levels. For example, levels may range from 1 to 5, with one encompassing entry-level duties. As levels increase, so do an assistant’s responsibilities. If the position has two levels, at level 1, you might work under close supervision and exercise minimal personal judgment and discretion. At level 2, you might work independently, take initiative and apply considerable personal discretion and judgment. An employer may promote a lower-level accounting assistant to fill an open higher-level position.
Skills and Qualifications
To excel in this position, an accounts assistant needs a good understanding of accounting principles, an analytical mind, and the ability to meet deadlines and communicate effectively. A sound knowledge of spreadsheets, accounting software, and bookkeeping and accounting terminology is also necessary. Educational requirements vary by employer and level of duties. For example, for a level 1 position, a high school diploma plus one or more years of experience may suffice. For level 2, they might need three or more years of experience and at least a high school diploma. Level 3 might require one or more years of experience plus at least an associate degree. Level 4 might require two or more years of experience and at least an associate degree. Lastly, for level 5, three or more years of experience plus an associate degree is required.
The salary for an accounting assistant varies by the scope of duties, with entry level being the lowest. An employer might favor candidates with degrees or technical accounting assistant diplomas. The ability to maintain confidentiality is vital because working in this position makes an accounts manager privy to sensitive financial data.
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.