Staff accountants have many different roles and responsibilities. While they may work part-time or under contract, many staff accountants work full-time, supporting clients, managers, and other employees. With experience, these professionals can move into leadership roles. Let’s take a closer look at the different levels of a staff accountant.
The duties of a staff accountant:
Staff accountants record financial transactions by following GAAP. Properly recorded financial transactions yield GAAP-compliant financial statements. These documents include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and statements of shareholders’ equity. This may start off at entry-level, meaning there is minimal prior work experience. However, staff accountants with accredited degrees are educated about GAAP compliance standards to ensure transparency and consistency in their work, meaning that they are an “associate” within the field. Professionals like staff accountants perform various accounting, bookkeeping, and financial duties, including recording financial transactions, reviewing financial statements, evaluating accounting systems, calculating tax liability, and recommending accounting best practices.
Specialties within a job:
There are many specialties that exist within the staff accountant’s role, for example, becoming a budget analyst. A budget analyst evaluates organizations’ budgets for accuracy and compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Budget analysts also develop and improve budgeting methods, prepare cost-benefit analyses, and evaluate proposed changes to the budget. Budget analysts need strong analytical, mathematical, and communication skills. They typically work in office environments alongside financial and non-financial staff. Entry-level budget analysts work as part of a team to develop the budget or support senior staff in building and implementing annual plans. Senior-level positions may manage a team of budget analysts or work with senior management to develop and implement the initial budget draft. Moving up the ladder within this specialty can lead to opportunities like CFO (chief financial officer), which are the C-suite executive level. Other specialties within the staff accountant role include forensic accountants, investigator auditors, and tax accountants.
Staff accountant salary:
To become a staff accountant, employers typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Aspiring accountants take coursework covering accounting principles, auditing, taxation, and financial accounting. Employers at most companies encourage staff accountants to become certified public accountants (CPAs). To do so, candidates must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants-administered Uniform CPA Examination. All states require prospective CPAs to complete 150 credit hours of higher education coursework. Because most bachelor’s degrees only require 120 credit hours, some professionals pursue a master’s degree in accounting to earn an additional credential while fulfilling the minimum education requirements for the CPA exam. Some companies will offer to pay for either the exam or higher education, and these are items that can be negotiated during your interview process. Entry-level staff accountants typically start around $50,000 per year with only minimal work experience. Mid-level positions can make up to $72,000 while the most senior positions can make around $100,000+.
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