Accounting Job Descriptions

Accounting job descriptions :  Click on the accounting job descriptions listed below to go to the specific description.

Accounting Clerk:

An accounting clerk will work for a controller or office manager and perform various duties. An accounting clerk may or may not have a college degree and can work in many different industries.

The most common types of accounting clerks are accounts payable clerks and payroll clerks.  These positions are very important to the business and require someone that is attentive and conscientious to be sure their duties are performed accurately and timely.

  • An Accounts Payable Clerk will be in charge of paying the bills for a business.  Usually, the clerk will create a packet which includes the invoice from the supplier along with paperwork to substantiate the payment.  This might be the packing slip or authorization to purchase.
These packets, or voucher packets as they are called, are then approved by a manager and then the accounts payable clerk enters this payment information into the company's system and pays the supplier.

  • A Payroll Clerk will set up new employees in the payroll system, record hours worked, vacation, payroll taxes, etc. for each employee.  When it's time for the employees to be paid, the payroll clerk will print payroll checks and disburse to the employees.

The payroll clerk may also be responsible for the reporting and payment of payroll taxes and employee W2 tax forms.

  • An Accounts Receivable Clerk will be required to account for payments from customers.  Also, a person in this position normally will have to deal with customer issues and keep accurate records to be certain that all revenue is collected from customers. 

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A bookkeeper is usually employed by a small business and may or may not be required to have a college education.  The bookkeeper may be required to wear several hats including accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger accountant, payroll, etc.

Government Accountant:

An accountant can work for a government entity.  There are many jobs for an accountant, ranging from an accountant for a local municipality to an IRS Auditor.

An accountant working for a government will use fund accounting.  Fund accounting requires that funds be established and transactions to and from this funds meet the legal requirements of the fund.  For example, revenue from local property taxes must be spent on only things that the taxes were collected to pay.  

Due to the various government sizes and complexities, local government educational requirements can vary.

An IRS Auditor is employed to review individual taxpayer forms and determine if the forms are filled out correctly.  This accountant may also be required to discuss issues with the taxpayer. An IRS auditor will usually be required to be a CPA with a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

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General Accountant or Staff Accountant:

A general accountant or staff accountant can be employed in almost any industry.  This accountant may have job duties that include general ledger accounting, accounts receivable, budgeting, or any combination of duties. A general or staff accountant usually is required to have a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree will be enough at some places.

Usually, the degree of difficulty for this position will be determined by the size and complexity of a company.  A Balance Sheet Accountant for a very large company will need to be very knowledgeable of accounting rules and regulations.

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Cost Accountant:

A cost accountant is an accountant with specialized knowledge in product costing and product flow.  A bachelor's degree is needed, and a CPA designation is becoming more common.  

A cost accountant sets and maintains costs for products or services.  He works for management, and is required to produce unique reports to aid in decision-making.  He usually will be involved or lead the budget and long-term plan process.

Almost all industries require cost accounting, but cost accountants generally are found in the manufacturing and health industries.

Tax Accountant:

A tax accountant has specialized knowledge of the tax laws and applies this knowledge to minimize tax paid and accurately report taxes for clients or an employer. A bachelor's degree is usually a minimum for senior type positions, but much less education will be required by some tax firms, especially seasonal type tax businesses.  A master's degree with a specialty in taxation is required for many larger firms.
Businesses such as CPA firms and tax firms will employ these accountants, as well as larger companies.

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Fixed Asset Accountant:
A fixed asset accountant records tangible assets owned by a company as well as the depreciation for these assets.  For large companies, property tax on these assets is a huge expense.  This accountant makes sure that assets are tracked, identified, and records are maintained. A bachelor's degree in accounting is usually required.

A fixed asset accountant may also fill out personal property tax forms for the local and state taxing authorities and represent the company in any audits regarding fixed assets.

In some companies the staff accountant will perform these duties, but in large companies, a specialized fixed asset accountant will be employed.    

A fixed asset accountant will be employed in companies that have large tangible assets, such as manufacturing.  There are also fixed asset companies that employ these accountants to maintain asset records for clients.   Fixed asset accounting information

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Financial Analyst:

A financial analyst may work for almost any industry.  The financial analyst will create reports and analyze data for management. Management uses this data to make decisions. A bachelor's degree is normally required. Depending on the complexity of the analysis required, a CPA or master degree may be required.
This accountant will have to be able to create unique reports and have a good understanding of the business.

This function may be included in other positions, such as cost accountant or controller, etc. Large companies will normally employ financial analysts at the corporate level.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA):

A CPA is required to have a bachelor's degree and be able to fulfill the additional requirements to earn a CPA designation. These requirements may vary by state, but usually include a certain length of time working for a CPA firm performing various audits, etc. and then passing a CPA exam.

Once an accountant has a CPA designation, he may stay with the CPA firm, start his own firm, or work for another employer.  Almost all industries employ CPAs, and many require a CPA designation for such jobs as controller, CEO, etc.

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The controller usually is the person in charge of accounting for a particular plant or business.  He is responsible for all the financial transactions and reporting. A Controller normally is required to have at least a bachelor's degree, and several years of experience. Almost all industries employ controllers

A controller will supervise a staff which may include an accounts payable accountant, accounts receivable, cost accountant, staff accountant, payroll clerk, etc.

Group Controller:

A group controller normally is responsible for several plants or businesses and supervises the controller of each of those locations.  He will coordinate the combining of the financial results of the locations, and be certain that the information from each location is accurate.

Group Controllers work for companies that are fairly large and have several locations.  A group controller normally has experience as a Controller for several years.

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Chief Financial Officer (CFO):

A CFO is usually the highest ranking financial officer in a company.  He is responsible for ensuring that the company has adequate funding to maintain operations, along with being the final review for financial statements. A CFO position will normally require advanced degrees and experience to be able to lead the company's finances.

A CFO usually will work hand in hand with the top executives to develop strategies for the company's future, which may include cost cutting measures or capital expenditures.