If you are an accountant who wishes to cross that extra mile in your career, becoming a project accountant would be a great fit for you. Project accounting is a specialized form of accounting where professional and skilled accountants are dedicated to tracking, analyzing and reporting projects’ financial elements. They are accountable for monitoring the progress of projects, approving expenses, investigating variances and ensuring that customers are issued project billings and payments are collected.
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Job Duties of a Project Accountant
Through project accounting, companies can track all of a project’s financial components, such as bookings. This means project accountants play a crucial role in the progression of various projects of a company. They are responsible for ensuring that the projects stick to the client’s budget and are correctly delivered.
Below are some of the primary duties of a project accountant:
Creating project accounts in the accounting system.
Maintaining project-related records like contracts and change orders.
Authorizing the transfer of expenses into and out of project funds.
Reviewing and approving supplier invoices and timesheets for work related to a project.
Reviewing and approving overhead charges and account totals related to project assets and expenses.
Investigating project variances and submitting variance reports to management.
Conferring with receivables staff regarding unpaid contract billings.
Reporting on project profitability or any opportunities for additional billings to management.
Compiling and providing information for internal and external auditors, as required.
Project Accountant Median Salaries
According to the records of PayScale, an American compensation software and data company, the average salary of a project accountant is $59,233 per year. Salaries may vary by region and specialty, but the demand for project accountants is expected to increase further.
Top Skills for Project Accountants
A good project accountant is responsible for the financial quality of the project they are assigned to, including but not limited to: effective communication with higher-ups, change orders, contract documents, and other contract modifications, approvals, among others.
Here are the top six skills which will help a project accountant achieve their goals:
- Adequate handling of financial statements: Project accountants are in charge of maintaining general ledgers, managing cash flow, preparing financial statements and bank reconciliations for multiple projects. They should be able to prepare and analyze financial statements following the principles of accounting while also researching performance issues or minor discrepancies and participating in annual budget preparation.
- Impeccable project management skills: Project management responsibilities are often seen in descriptions for handling project accountants. You will need project management skills to collaborate with management and production teams to analyze cost trends, prepare estimates and report and investigate variances.
- Identify proper revenue routes: Recruiters will prioritize project accountants who can successfully identify revenue estimates and project cost estimates and extend their assistance in preparing percent complete calculations.
- Diligent with contracts: A project accountant is in charge of keeping documentation of all contracts in a project and must also be well aware of their terms, length of activity and fees. They must also be in constant communication with managers and stakeholders to ensure the contracts comply with their needs.
- Sound technical knowledge: Project accountants with advanced computer literacy, including experience in spreadsheets, word processing and accounting software, will have a better chance at landing the job. Project accountants should be ready to incorporate intelligent technologies into their work environment to complete their tasks more efficiently.
- Ability to build strong relationships: As project accountants must deal with the budget and finances of an entire company, they constantly interact with project management teams, workers from other departments, stakeholders and clients. Having polished communication skills is imperative to handling requests and needs.
Educational Requirements for Project Accountants
DegreeEmployers expect project accountants to graduate with a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field like finance and business management from higher learning institutions like Southern New Hampshire University, Dakota State University and Emerson College. However, some prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA with a concentration in accounting.
Bachelor's degree programs include courses like cost accounting, financial accounting, auditing and taxation. To pursue a master’s degree in accounting, the student should have completed a minimum number of courses in accounting or similar fields during undergraduate school. Master's degree courses may include business taxation, risk management, managerial accounting and assurance standards in the syllabus.
CertificationsMost employers seek an accountant who has received their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, even though it is unnecessary. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which prepares the CPA qualifying examination, tests prospective accountants in four basic areas: auditing, financial accounting and reporting, business environment and regulation.
Project accountants may also benefit from certification offered by other organizations like the American Institute of CPAs, the American Accounting Association, The Institute of Management Accountants. The Certified Management Accountant certification may be advantageous to project accountants who aspire to advance to executive-level positions like a chief financial officer. Another good certification for a project accountant is the Certified Internal Auditor designation, which tests their internal auditing skills.
Project Accountant Resume-Writing Tips
You may be a skilled project accountant with a good amount of work experience in the field, but you need to craft your resume properly to showcase your knowledge. Build an interview-winning resume using these three simple tips:
- Use the right keywords. One of the main reasons a good resume stands out from the rest is the use of keywords. You will have to find the right keywords related to the industry — reading through the job description of the company you are applying for helps. You can add something like "maintained project-related records, including contracts and change orders" to your resume for a project accountant position. This will highlight your familiarity with the industry.
- Don't miss out on the important jobs. You might have taken different roles and worked in different areas, but you can't write all of it in your resume. Choosing the most important roles and areas of accounting that you have worked in could be a challenging task. So, while writing your resume, always think about what the recruiter is looking for. When choosing a duty, ask yourself if this is what your employer wants or if you need to go with something else. Your resume should only contain the important keywords that will catch the employer’s eye when you are finished.
- Be specific. Show your authenticity by including specific accomplishments in your resume instead of generalizing skills. Phrases like “processed all payroll entries and reports for 78 employees” will show the specific tasks you accomplished as a project accountant. The use of numbers in resumes is also a merit. It will help to support your statements in the resume.
Why is project accounting crucial?
Project accounting facilitates and integrates the key tasks in the management of a large project. With project accounting, you get to keep track of the time, related costs and other key aspects related to a specific task. It differs from traditional accounting by focusing only on the transactions related to a particular project.
How do project accountants play a critical role in companies?
A project accountant manages all the financial information related to a project or projects of a company. They are responsible for keeping track of each project's expenses and providing regular reports on whether the project is over or under budget. At times, they may also be responsible for drawing up proposals for possible projects and informing managers about the income expected.
Is a bachelor’s degree enough for me to become a project accountant?
You can start off becoming a project accountant by attaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. A master’s in accounting or MBA in accounting will also add merit to your position. Most employers prefer project accountants who have acquired globally recognized certifications from prestigious associations and organizations for accounting professionals.