Certified Accounting Technician: Salary, Requirements and Duties

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified accounting technician. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about job duties, salary statistics and employment outlook.

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Certified accounting technicians support accountants by preparing financial statements and recording all transactions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all accounting technicians was roughly $37,000 as of 2015.

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Essential Information

Certified accounting technicians, also known as accounting clerks or bookkeepers, assist accountants and perform many of the same tasks. They often rely heavily on accounting software. While certified accounting technicians need minimal formal education, anyone interested in becoming certified must pass an exam or series of exams.

Required Education High school diploma with moderate on-the-job training
Other Requirements Coursework in specific accounting software may be required by some employers; Voluntary certification available
Projected Job Outlook* (2014-2024) -8% for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
Median Salary* (2015) $37,250 annually for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Requirements

A certified accounting technician (CAT) must be detail-oriented. Certified accounting technicians must also be trustworthy, able to handle confidential records, and banking deposits. They need excellent communication, English, and math skills, and should enjoy working with numbers. They must also have excellent time management, critical-thinking, and customer service skills.

Educational Requirements

In order to work as a CAT, a high school diploma and some financial work experience is typically required. Some employers prefer certified accounting technicians to have an associate's degree in accounting or a related field. Many receive on-the-job training, but may also have to take formal courses to learn how to use accounting software like QuickBooks. According to O*Net Online, only 18% of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks possess a bachelor's degree. Those professionals required to have a bachelor's degree often major in accounting, finance, mathematics, or business.

CAT Certification

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) administers the CAT certification examinations. This certification is for entry-level and mid-level finance workers. CAT status requires successfully completing a series of exams and one year of workplace experience.

One year of relevant practical experience can exempt a test-taker from some of the CAT exams. Without any exemptions, there are ten exams, and applicants must take and pass at least nine of them. They cover topics in accounting, finance, information technology, and management. Exams are offered twice a year. The first four exams can be taken in person or by computer, but the others must be taken in person.

Duties

Job duties might include keeping a general ledger (if working for a small business), recording debits and credits, making bank deposits, managing payroll, preparing invoices, and keeping track of overdue accounts. CATs may also compute interest charges, check accounts for accuracy, and code documents.

They may prepare statistical, accounting, financial, and auditing reports for review by an accountant or company executives. They reconcile ledgers and note discrepancies. They may also assist a certified public accountant (CPA) with preparation of a business's yearly or quarterly taxes.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accounting clerks, along with auditing and bookkeeping clerks, earned a median salary of $37,250 as of 2015. The postal service was the highest-paying industry for accounting clerks at that time, offering an average annual salary of $63,840. The accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation industry had the highest level of employment for accounting clerks as of 2015, per the BLS. The BLS predicts that bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks will experience an 8% job decline between 2014 and 2024.

Although a high school diploma is the minimal education requirement for becoming a certified accounting technician, candidates with an associate's degree in a field related to accounting are often preferred by certain employers. At times, certification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants may also be required.

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