Accounts Payable Career Path

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Accounts Payable Career Path

The first thing to know about the accounts payable career path is that it isn’t an easy one. It takes a lot of time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. The goal is to make sure everything balances out at the end of the day, which requires you to constantly monitor your company’s finances. You will be responsible for making sure all invoices are paid on time and in full, as well as overseeing payroll and benefits for your employees.

Accounting professionals who specialize in this field have a lot of skills that can take them into other careers or businesses if they choose not to continue working in accounts payable. They may also find themselves handling budgets for small-to-medium-sized companies because this is where they are most needed. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the information you’ll need to excel in this career field.

1. What Is an Account Payable?

Accounts payable is a professional position that requires you to manage all business transactions. This includes making sure invoices are paid on time and in full, as well as overseeing payroll and benefits for your employees. In addition, the accounts payable department is responsible for collecting money from clients who have been extended credit terms by your company. Businesses that are involved in international trade are often required to have individuals who are trained in various import/export procedures.

An accounts payable professional should be familiar with all kinds of business transactions, including invoicing, credit terms, payments and collections, inventory management, and the internal processes used by the accounts payable department. You should also have a basic understanding of human resources because you will work with HR staff on payroll.

To become an accounts payable professional, it is important to understand various business concepts and know how they can be applied in practice. It’s also essential to gain practical experience before taking up this career path, which can be done during internships or through freelance work.

2. What Role Do Accounts Payable Play?

The goal of an accounts payable position is to make sure everything balances out at the end of the month. This requires you to keep a close eye on your company’s financial transactions and monitor all purchase orders, invoices, and payment records.

As an accounts payable specialist, you will be responsible for:

  • Make sure that every purchase order is approved before an item can be purchased
  • Reviewing and approving all supplier invoices
  • Processing payments for both regular expenses and supplier invoices
  • Counting cash to make sure all purchases are accounted for
  • Interacting with payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable staff in order to resolve any questions or issues that may arise.

3. What Skills Should I Have in Order to Excel in This Career?

Accounts payable specialists need certain specific skills in order to excel in this career. Some of these include:

  • Excelling at math and data entry
  • Having an eye for detail
  • Having the ability to prioritize tasks and work as part of a team
  • Being able to stay calm under pressure. The amount of work and deadlines you will be facing can pile up quickly, so it’s important to stay on top of things without getting stressed out.
  • Having strong communication skills. You will need to communicate with people from all different departments in order to handle payment processing, invoices, and payroll. This means having the ability to speak clearly and directly while being professional and courteous at all times.
  • Being proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. Much of the time, accounts payable jobs require you to work with numbers on a daily basis, so it’s important that you have experience working with spreadsheets and letters for invoices.

4. How Do I Become an Account Payable?

The typical path to becoming an accounts payable worker is to start out in the banking industry. Most companies will look for people with previous experience in this field, but if you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to get some work under your belt at your bank or financial institution.

Another good way to start is by taking advantage of internships during college or university. This way, you will gain some experience and a better understanding of the field before deciding on a full-time career.

Afterward, you can go on to get your professional certification or licensing through various agencies, including the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in Canada and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

5. What Are the Educational Requirements to Become an Accounts, Payable Professional?

Accounts payable professionals typically hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting, business, or finance. A competitive salary and the potential to move into managerial positions attracts many accountants to this profession, so it is important that you continue your education by earning an MBA (master of business administration) or specialized designation such as Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Some employers may consider an accounting associate degree or bookkeeping certificate in addition to your education and experience. Successful candidates possess strong communication, analytical and interpersonal skills. It is also important that you have excellent writing, math, and computer skills. Knowledge of business software, such as QuickBooks or Peachtree, is an asset.

6. What Are the Characteristics of Good Accounts Payable Professionals?

Accounts payable professionals must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, be well organized, and be able to multi-task. Patience is required when dealing with clients who do not understand the importance of paying their bills on time.

Accounts payable professionals should also possess excellent communication, math skills, and computer knowledge in order to prepare invoices for approval, process expense reports, and maintain accounts payable records.

7. What Is the Work Environment Like as an Accounts Payable Professional?

Accounts payable professionals typically work in an office setting, although they may also be required to attend business meetings with clients. Hours of employment vary and may require early morning, evening, and weekend work, depending on meeting schedules and deadlines.

If you work a typical 9 am to 5 pm daily, your hours may vary depending on the season and when clients need invoices prepared for meetings.

There is a high level of stress associated with this position because accounts payable professionals are responsible for ensuring that bills are paid quickly in order to meet deadlines. Accounts payable professionals must also endure constant pressure to control spending.

8. The Job Outlook for an Accounts Payable Professional

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of accountants and auditors will grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is roughly as fast as the average for all occupations. The best job opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected in the offices of health care practitioners, where demand for services is expected to increase modestly during that time period.

9. What Do an Accounts Payable Specialist Earn?

The BLS reports the median pay for accountants and auditors was $62,720 per year in 2012. Pay for accounting and auditing clerks varies by employer, location, and size of the firm. For example, the BLS reports that accountants and auditors working for the federal government had a minimum salary of $51,014 in 2012.

Accounts payable professionals were working for large companies with established accounts payable departments typically earn higher salaries than those employed by small companies or start-up businesses.

10. What Other Job Can I Get After Accounts Payable?

Accounts payable is an excellent entry point for professionals who aspire to work in various areas of the accounting profession. Many companies use accounts payable software to track spending, so acquiring computer skills when working as an accounts payable clerk will give you a strong foundation in using these tools.

Accountants may also move into managerial positions related to accounts receivable and accounts payable. For example, an accountant may manage the accounts payable department for a small company or work with external auditors to ensure compliance with government regulations.

Following are some of the other related job titles:

  • Accounts Receivable Specialist
  • Accounts Receivable/Receivable Clerk
  • Corporate Accountant
  • A&P Supervisor
  • Payroll Clerk Assistant

11. What Companies Hire Accounts, Payable Professionals?

Many companies hire entry-level accounts payable clerks and offer training for those with no previous experience. Well-known companies that offer on the job training and opportunities to advance in this career include:

  • Coca-Cola
  • General Electric
  • Kimberly Clark
  • J.C. Penney
  • Valero Energy
  • McDonald’s Corp.
  • Ikea North America Services Llc

12. What Online Courses in the US Can One Take to Become an Account Payable?

The following online courses may provide you with the knowledge necessary to become accounts, payable specialist:

Accounts Payable Certification by IOFM- Accounts Payable Certification by IOFM will teach you all the essentials of accounts payable that every organization needs from a reliable payment processing partner. This online accounting course provides a foundation for an entry-level AP job within a company. Upon finishing this program, you will have learned about the essential principles and best practices in effective accounts payable. With a career in accounts payable, you will be able to work with financial reports and other essential tools needed for the position. You can enroll in this program anytime and take your time completing it. The course is self-paced so that you have all the time you need to understand each chapter before moving on to the next one.

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Accounts Payable Processing Course by Udemy- Accounts Payable Processing Course by Udemy is an online course that will teach you the fundamentals of accounts payable processes. You will study topics on accounts payable processing, government regulations, payment terms, electronic invoices, corporate credit card programs, and more. This program will prepare you to take industry-recognized certification exams in AP.

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Accounts Payable Operations Responsibilities by Udemy- Accounts Payable Operations Responsibilities by Udemy is an online course that will teach you the essential knowledge for a successful accounts payable career. You will study topics on effective payment processing, vendor master data management, invoice coding and analysis, purchasing card programs, and more. This program will prepare you to become a certified AP professional in the industry.

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Online Class: Accounts Payable Management by Accounts Payable Management is an online course offered by that will teach you the principles of accounts payable management. You will learn how to manage the accounts payable department and create a vendor master file. In addition, this program includes important topics such as AP policy creation, payment plan development, and more.

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13. Best Colleges to Study Accounts Payable Management

Some of the top universities where you can study accounts payable management are:

  • University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Baker University
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Binghamton University (SUNY)


The accounts payable career path is a great option for those who want to work in finance but don’t want to deal with numbers and calculations all day. It’s also a good choice for people who like organizing and keeping track of things. If you’re interested in this career, be sure to learn as much about bookkeeping and accounting as you can so that you’ll be ready to take on the challenges of this role.

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