A staff accountant works under supervisors in corporate settings where they maintain ledgers and budgets and serve as bookkeepers. If you can picture yourself as a detail-oriented and organized person who is excellent with numbers, then becoming a staff accountant might be your cup of tea. Some staff accountants specialize in fields like taxation or auditing, while others perform general accounting work.
Using this guide, you can build a unique resume. Let's first look into the three main resume formats and see which is best for you.
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Job Duties of a Staff Accountant
Staff accountants are trusted to provide management with financial information by researching and analyzing accounts and preparing financial statements. While handling accounting, they try to maintain a healthy financial profile for the company through state, federal, and local compliance.
The vital duties of a staff accountant are:
Preparing consolidated internal and external financial statements by gathering and analyzing information from the general ledger system and departments.
Balancing and maintaining an automated consolidation system by inputting, and verifying data, and scheduling required jobs.
Developing spreadsheet reports and verifying information.
Preparing general ledger entries by maintaining files and records; reconciling accounts.
Preparing payments by accruing expenses, assigning account numbers, requesting disbursements, and reconciling accounts.
Helping in the development and implementation of accounting procedures by analyzing current processes and recommending changes.
Answering financial and accounting questions by researching and interpreting data.
Protecting the value of the organization by keeping information confidential.
Staff Accountant Median Salaries
According to PayScale, a staff accountant earns an average of $51,598 per year. As accounting becomes more complex, positions for staff accountants are increasing. Therefore, in general, job growth in this field is expected to be much higher than average over the next few years.
Top Skills for Staff Accountants
Staff accountants work in an accounting department within a firm or corporation. Still, many pursue roles in other industries like law firms, medical and educational entities, among others. Given the need for budgeting and bookkeeping, a staff accountant is a versatile role that allows you the freedom to enter any market. However, the demand makes it even more important to stand out from the crowd through specialized skills you can acquire throughout your career.
Here are the top six skills that every staff accountant should have:
- Aptitude for data analysis. Staff accountants track employer profits, losses, and spending and allow management to evaluate company performance. To do this, they must research and compare the financial data from other enterprises, allowing them to gauge their employers’ financial health. A staff accountant must keep a record of their investigations for future reference.
- Numerical skills. A staff accountant demonstrates proficiency in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics. Math will be your strongest ally when evaluating data. It is also the job of the staff accountant to raise red flags when numbers in a company don’t add up, as it could involve legal repercussions for an employer.
- Capable of deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning, sometimes known as top-down logic, can visualize a series of premises and hypothesize an answer. It is through deductive reasoning that staff accountants can draw conclusions based on data sets. Without deductive reasoning, you will be unable to rationalize some of the data you handle, which could lead to you unwillingly ignoring overspending in a department or even a fraud scheme.
- Good oral expression. While providing formal financial reports and disclosing their findings, staff accountants must convey their thoughts and ideas through presentations and speech. Without proper expression of the message, the communication could be misleading and misinterpreted by the receiver, and faults in the company’s financial systems could remain undiscovered.
- Computer and technology knowledge. Working as a staff accountant, you can't hesitate to use accounting software such as Oracle NetSuite, Intuit QuickBooks Online, and Zoho Books, among others, at your work. You must be tech-savvy and comfortable learning new computer programs and applications. You should also know about advanced modeling techniques, SQL, and business software such as IBM Cognos.
- Knowledge of accounting principles and practices. It doesn't matter if you specialize in bookkeeping, budgeting, taxes, or any other field. A staff accountant must have a thorough grasp of the profession’s principles for the sake of a company’s financial information quality.
Educational Requirements for Staff Accountants
DegreeA staff accountant requires a four-year bachelor’s degree to be able to work. However, many schools, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Open University, and University of Michigan, Columbia University, offer free online accounting courses. In contrast, others offer associate degree programs in accounting.
Degree programs may also offer various specializations, such as business economics, international management, public administration, or finance. Financial reporting, auditing, accounting, taxation, ethics, and financial analysis are typical coursework for bachelor's programs in accounting.
CertificationsThe field of accounting offers a wide range of certifications, depending on your specialty.
The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation is the most common certification for an accountant, and many states require an accounting professional to work in a company. This certification proves your knowledge in accounting to a potential employer and increases your chances of being hired. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) stands out as the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession.
Likewise, accountants can also apply to receive a certification as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which confirms a person’s skills in planning and analysis, performance management, risk management, and internal controls, among others. A CMA works hand in hand with the top executives and can even advance their careers to become chief financial officers.
For those seeking a more specialized certification, the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute offers a CFA Certification that helps accountants interested in the investment side of their profession. A CFA can provide counsel to a company interested in expanding.
Staff Accountant Resume-Writing Tips
Crafting a well-structured and compelling resume is an art. And by knowing the right way to do it, you can build a resume that will grab the recruiter’s attention. Follow our three simple tips to learn how.
- Choose the correct resume format. Choosing the correct resume format and design has a more significant impact on your resume than you think, so you should be careful to make it simple but with a professional touch. If you have three to five years of experience, choose the chronological resume to highlight that consistent work history. But if you are an entry-level staff accountant, you should go for the functional resume format to highlight your professional skills over work experience. The combination resume format works best for those who have both skills and work experience.
- Add skills that match the job’s requirements. Make sure your skills are relevant to the position. Employers prefer a staff accountant with a knack for handling technological advancements. Therefore, while adding your skills, make sure that they match the evolving trends in accounting. Using keywords like “Data trending knowledge,” “Invoice coding familiarity,” and “Advanced bookkeeping skills" show you are on pace with the latest trends.
- Sound confident. While highlighting achievements, emphasize your determination and hard work in the field. To sound confident with your statements, you can use phrases like, “collaborated with suppliers to expand the market, increasing revenue $400,000 in three years.” The numbers suggest you are sure about what you have stated; instead of a general statement, you should add specific details.
What is good about becoming a staff accountant?
Becoming a staff accountant offers you career advancement and the potential for salary growth.
Can you become a staff accountant with an associate degree?
While universities like the University of Alaska Anchorage and Purdue University Global offer an associate degree majoring in accounting, most employers prefer staff accountants with at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. There are also general business degrees focusing on accounting, such as the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Accounting and the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting.
Does an entry-level staff accountant perform the same duties as an experienced staff accountant?
Entry-level staff accountants are under the supervision of a senior accountant. The senior accountant may ask you to help prepare financial statements, help the company decide if it can finance new projects, and perform other administrative tasks. As you get used to the work and the environment, you have to perform more advanced duties like verifying, allocating, posting, and reconciling accounts payable and receivable, producing error-free accounting reports, and presenting results.