Staff accountants are employed by governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, public companies, and accounting firms. Various documents are prepared by staff accountants including financial statements, monthly reports and income tax returns. Employers usually require prospective staff accountants to have completed a bachelor degree in accounting and have prior accounting experience. In this article, we will look at the career path of a staff accountant and discuss what an aspiring staff accountant must do in order to pursue their career.
Job Description of Staff Accountants
Staff accountants perform their duties while being supervised by a certified public accountant (CPA), director or controller. They are responsible for the provision of general ledgers, records, and financial reports, the preparation and analysis of budgets, and the performance of general bookkeeping. Usually, billing activities, such as accounts receivable and accounts payable are expected to be performed by staff accountants. An aspiring staff accountant can expect to work forty hours a week. Several staff accountants are involved in the preparation of tax returns indicating the possibility of overtime required during the tax season.
Staff accountants may be involved in production of forms, transcription, filing, provision of telephone support, and maintenance of schedules, among other administrative duties. If an accountant is employed by an accounting firm, they may be required to perform other tasks. Apart from the preparation of financial statements and tax returns, representation of clients in matters relating to such client firms’ financial affairs is performed by accounting firms. Usually, staff accountants in such firms are required to consult with clients about their financial matters such as a tax liability, equipment and real property.
Typically, employers of staff accountants require candidates to have completed a bachelor degree program in accounting and possess a year of accounting experience; such hands-on experience could be garnered in a previous job or through participation in an internship program. Students enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Accounting will need to devote four years to completing such a course that will prepare them with skills in various subject areas including ethics, information technology, business, management and accounting. Coursework is likely to focus on areas such as accounting information systems, statistics, computer applications, business communications, and macroeconomics.
Excellent communication including written and verbal skills, knowledge of accounting principles, the ability to analyze figures and basic mathematical ability are expected of prospective staff accountants. They must have effective organizational skills, and the ability to establish priorities and to multi-task. They are required to be comfortable with computers, including accounting software. Some employers may require aspiring staff accountants to submit to criminal background checks apart from requiring candidates to pass a written test as part of the application process.