As with any business, accounting plays a crucial role in a construction business. From payroll and purchasing to billing and taxes, a construction company needs individuals who can manage, maintain, and track its financial stability. Three critical positions in this field include accountants, accounting clerks, and accounting supervisors.
The construction business is more than manpower, machinery and materials. Any successful operation requires the services of talented accounting professionals to ensure efficiency and profitability. Construction accounting professionals must understand the unique challenges of a construction business and the financial skills that are needed for this job. Aspiring professionals might earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or construction management with relevant coursework in spreadsheets, taxation and construction operations.
|Career Titles||Accountants & Auditors||Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Auditing Clerks||Accounting Supervisors|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||High school diploma or some postsecondary accounting coursework||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||N/A||On-the-job training||Work experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||11%*||-8%*||5% to 8% for all first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers**|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$67,190*||$37,250*||$59,516 for accounting supervisors***|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine, ***PayScale
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The field of construction accounting may offer a number of career opportunities for qualified candidates. Individuals who have the required education, knowledge or experience might pursue positions such as accountants, accounting clerks and accounting supervisors.
In general, accountants create financial statements and prepare tax returns. Construction accountants are responsible for a number of jobs that maintain the cost efficiency and profitability of a construction operation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of working accountants and auditors was projected to increase 11% between 2014 and 2024. This rate is faster than the average for all other job sectors. The BLS reports that accountants and auditors in general earned median salaries of $67,190 as of 2015.
A starting position as a construction accounting clerk is a good way to grow in the industry. According to November 2014 job listings on CareerBuilder.com, construction accounting clerks need experience with accounts payable and receivable, lien waivers and payroll. This position may also teach the ins and outs of the construction business. The BLS reported that jobs for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks would decrease at a rate of 8%. In May of 2015, their median annual salaries were $37,250.
Advanced positions, such as accounting supervisor or project supervisor, often require more education and experience. The job involves supervising day-to-day operations, dealing with procedural and compliance issues, managing banking operations, supervising payrolls and making vendor payments. Construction accounting supervisors also take the lead regarding cost cutting measures such as purchasing and billing. O*NET OnLine reported that the 2014-2024 employment outlook statistics for first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, which includes accounting supervisors, were between 5% and 8%. PayScale.com indicated that median salaries for accounting supervisors were $59,516 as of January, 2016.
Educational Requirements for Construction Accounting Careers
There is not one specific education requirement for prospective construction accounting workers. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in accounting, as well as related programs in construction management. Accounting programs typically begin with core studies, such as spreadsheet programs which focus on the different types of computer programs that can aid an accountant in his or her job. Taxation fundamentals, economic principles and statement analysis courses teach about the strengths and weaknesses of markets, tax compliance issues and analyzing costs and how they relate to eventual profits and loss.
Some construction management programs offer basic accounting courses, but focus more on construction and business principles. A course such as construction operations and management teaches prospective construction accountants how to organize, control and direct operations, focusing on budgeting, financial management, purchasing and cost control. Other pertinent courses feature studies in safety control, construction contracts, codes and inspections, estimating and bidding. Many programs offer capstone programs, where students work as part of a team to design, plan and present a finished building project.
To summarize, as an accountant, accounting clerk or an accounting supervisor, you could earn between $37,250 and $67,190 and enjoy job growth prospects between -8 and 11%. The educational requirements for these career options range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree.