If you’re looking for a career with stability and growth potential, consider becoming a staff accountant. Staff accountants play a critical role in any business, helping to ensure that financial records are accurate and up-to-date. They also work with clients and other professionals to guide financial planning and investment options.
The staff accountant career path is an excellent choice for individuals who want to make a difference in business while developing their skills and knowledge. If you’re interested in pursuing this exciting career, read on to learn more about what it takes to become a staff accountant.
1. What Is a Staff Accountant?
A staff accountant has the job of compiling, reviewing, and analyzing financial records for an organization. Staff accountants also ensure that these records are accurate and complete. The work of a staff accountant is vital to the smooth running of businesses because it provides company decision-makers with information to make well-informed business decisions.
Staff accountants may be responsible for a company’s general accounting duties or specialize in specific areas of expertise, such as cost accounting or financial reporting. Staff accountants are often employed by large corporations, though not always. Some staff accountants work for agencies that provide business management services to companies too small to have full-time accountants.
2. What Does a Staff Accountant Do?
Staff accountants are responsible for several duties, including:
· Preparing journal entries. When transactions occur within an organization, they are initially recorded in its general ledger. The staff accountant is usually responsible for inputting these entries into the company’s accounting program. Once this has been done, the accountant reviews the entries to ensure they have been entered correctly.
· Recording invoices and receipts and recording payments made against those invoices and receipts. This work ensures that all appropriate sales tax has been paid on large transactions. In addition, staff accountants are responsible for filing all required tax documentation, such as 1099 forms and W-2s.
· Monitoring cash flow. Staff accountants monitor day-to-day cash flow to ensure that a company has the necessary funds to operate. This involves identifying when peak times for collection of receivables will occur and planning to make sure there is enough cash to meet these liabilities. If there is a cash shortfall, the staff accountant works with other managers to develop strategies for raising sufficient capital.
· Preparing monthly accounting statements. These reports show an organization’s financial performance over time and can be used for decision-making purposes by company leaders. Staff accountants ensure that revenue has been recorded accurately when creating these statements. They track the money flow through the business to make sure it matches up with other records.
· Maintaining up-to-date financial records. Staff accountants review all other information within a company’s accounting system to ensure that monthly statements are always accurate. This work involves checking reports and checking raw data for accuracy, as well as correcting any discrepancies.
· Reviewing financial statements, including income and loss accounts and balance sheets. These records are prepared at least quarterly and reviewed by managers and other staff members within an organization. The review is designed to ensure compliance with relevant accounting standards and the company’s accounting policies and objectives.
· Ensuring that budgets are prepared and implemented according to established guidelines. Budgets help managers plan for the future and decide which investments they will pursue. The staff accountant ensures that budgets prepared by department managers within an organization match up with company-wide goals and ensures that resources necessary to achieve those goals are available.
· Reviewing financial reports and other documents to ensure that they contain accurate information. If a company is publicly traded, this work involves making sure the quarterly and annual financial statements meet all legal requirements for accuracy and content.
3. What Skills or Qualifications Do I Need?
Typically, staff accountants hold a bachelor‘s degree in accounting, and many have a master of business administration (MBA). Many employers also prefer candidates who hold the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation or the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate. Staff accountants must be comfortable working with numbers and possess strong interpersonal skills, including establishing strong working relationships with other employees. Communication skills are essential, as staff accountants must convey financial information clearly and concisely to others within an organization. Finally, since staff accountants work with many different departments in an organization, they should also possess good problem-solving skills.
4. What Is the Job Like?
The majority of staff accountants are employed in the accounting departments of private companies. These professionals may work for small businesses with just one accountant or large corporations that employ hundreds of workers within their accounting department. Some staff accountants are self-employed as independent auditors or consultants providing services to clients in various industries.
5. What Is the Salary Range?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for staff accountants was $54,820 in 2012. The BLS notes that the lowest 10 percent of earners made $32,870 annually or less and that the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,800 a year. Staff accountants employed in the finance and insurance industry earned the highest median salary at $62,860 a year, and those employed by local governments had the lowest median salary at $47,820 annually.
6. What Are Some Related Job Titles?
Staff accountants work closely with individual accountants and financial analysts, who may have more specialized duties within an organization. Businesses that provide accounting services to other organizations or individuals may hire accountants as staff auditors. The BLS also notes that some businesses may employ budget analysts responsible for creating company budgets and ensuring they are implemented effectively.
7. What Are the Pros and Cons of the Job?
Some of the pros of being a staff accountant include:
- Work that is typically interesting and challenging
- A variety of responsibilities and opportunities for advancement
- High levels of job security
- Decent salaries and benefits, including 401(k) plans, health insurance, and paid vacation time
The cons of being a staff accountant include:
- Frequent overtime is required to meet deadlines and complete projects
- Routine, sometimes tedious work
- While advancement may be possible within an organization, there are often limited opportunities for those outside the profession who wish to enter it as a career.
- Stress from more frequent deadlines and producing a greater volume of work
- The need to stay current with relevant accounting standards and regulations can be challenging for some employees
- Less opportunity for self-expression
- Long and irregular hours due to the nature of the work (e.g., periods of high activity followed by lulls)
8. What Are the Best Ways to Acquire a Job in this Field?
According to BLS, most staff accountants have attained an undergraduate degree in accounting or business, and most employers prefer candidates who have also completed graduate-level coursework. The BLS notes that additional training is usually available through professional certification programs for accountants, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation for accountants in public practice.
Many staff accountants begin their careers as junior or trainee accountants. They perform routine accounting tasks under the supervision of more experienced workers. They may attend seminars and workshops offered by professional associations for guidance on maintaining skills and advancing their career. After gaining experience and receiving recommendations from supervisors, some staff accountants move into supervisory or management positions.
9. What Types of Companies Hire Staff Accountants?
The BLS reports that about half (51 percent) of all full-time staff accountants work in accounting and tax preparation firms. Two-thirds (67 percent) of these individuals are employed by public accounting firms responsible for providing accounting services to the public. The remaining 33 percent are employed by private accounting firms, focusing on other clients such as businesses or other organizations.
Another typical setting for staff accountants is in corporate accounting departments. These workers might assist chief executive officers (CEOs), other executives, and managers in planning and coordinating an organization’s accounting activities. The BLS reports that 29 percent of full-time staff accountants work in finance and insurance, while local governments employ another 24 percent.
Some of the top recruiting companies for staff accountants include:
- CACI International, Inc.
- IBM Corporation
- Kronos Incorporated
- The U.S. Census Bureau
- PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
10. What Types of Companies Do Not Hire Staff Accountants?
Although many significant corporations employ at least several full-time staff accountants, the BLS notes that many companies often rely on independent accounting firms to handle their accounting tasks. The BLS also reports that some smaller businesses might have a staff accountant working there, but the position is then outsourced when it requires additional expertise or resources.
11. What Are the Job Prospects for this Profession?
The BLS reports that the employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 9 percent between 2010-2020, which is considered about as fast as average. Individuals entering the profession will have many opportunities to work in various environments, and some individuals may choose to enter specialized fields such as computer technology or education. Suppose you want to become a staff accountant. In that case, the BLS notes that those with an advanced degree and membership in professional organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) tend to have better job prospects.
12. Best Colleges to Study Staff Accountancy
Some of the best colleges to study staff accountancy include:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Columbia University in the City of New York
- Wake Forest University
- University of Notre Dame
- The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
Staff accountants are an essential part of any business. They keep track of the company’s finances and ensure that everything is in order. If you’re interested in a career in staff accounting, there are several things you need to do to prepare yourself for the job. First, you need to get a degree in accounting or a related field. It would help if you had some experience working with numbers and financial statements. And finally, you should develop strong problem-solving skills and be able to work independently. If you can accomplish these things, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful staff accountant.