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Staff Accountant: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a staff accountant. Get a quick view of the requirements and details about degree programs, job duties and necessary experience to find out if this is the career for you. View article »

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Essential Information

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Accounting
Experience 1+ year, which could include an internship
Key Skills Basic math skills; ability to analyze figures; knowledge of accounting principles; excellent verbal/written communication, multi-tasking, prioritizing, and organizational skills
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11% for all accountants and auditors*
Median Salary (2016) $45,837**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **PayScale.com

Staff accountants work for accounting firms, public companies, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. They prepare documents such as income tax returns, monthly reports, and financial statements. Employers prefer a bachelor's degree in accounting and prior accounting experience.

Staff Accountant Job Description

Staff accountants work under the supervision of a controller, director or certified public accountant (CPA). They maintain financial reports, records, and general ledgers; prepare and analyze budgets; and perform general bookkeeping. Many staff accountants are also responsible for billing activities, such as accounts payable and accounts receivable. A 40-hour workweek can be expected; many accountants prepare tax returns that can lead to potential overtime during tax season.

Job Duties

Staff accountants also perform administrative duties such as maintaining schedules, providing telephone support, filing, transcription and the production of forms. The accountant may have additional responsibilities if employed by an accounting firm. In addition to preparing tax returns and financial statements, accounting firms represent clients on matters pertaining to their financial affairs. Typically, it is the staff accountants' responsibility to meet with clients to discuss their financial matters, such as real property, equipment, and tax liability.

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Requirements

Typical requirements for the position include a bachelor's degree in accounting and one year of accounting experience, which can be gained from an internship position or previous employment.

A Bachelor of Science in Accounting is a 4-year degree preparing students with the necessary skills in accounting, business, management, information technology and ethics. Curricula may include courses such as macroeconomics, business communications, computer applications, statistics and accounting information systems.

Potential staff accountants must possess basic math skills, the ability to analyze figures, knowledge of accounting principles and excellent verbal and written skills. They must be able to multi-task, establish priorities and organize efficiently. Knowledge of computers and familiarity with accounting software is also essential. Some employers may require a criminal background check along with a written test performed at the time of the application.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for accountants and auditors should be about average at 11% over the 2014-2024 decade. PayScale.com reported that staff accountants earned a median salary of $45,837 in 2016. Entry-level staff accountants had a median salary of $39,704 annually.

A staff accountant works under a CPA to perform general accounting duties. A bachelor's degree is required for this career.

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