Accounts Payable Specialist Careers

Explore the career requirements for accounts payable specialists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Accounts Payable Specialist?

An accounts payable specialist is an accounting clerk who is responsible for keeping track of a company's expenditures and paying bills. They usually work at large companies, alongside accounting clerks who specialize in closely related financial areas, such as accounts receivable. In order to keep track of accounts payable, specialists use spreadsheets and databases software to record and verify all pending and completed payments. If they notice an inaccuracy or discrepancy, they note the difference and report it to a supervisor.

The following table shows the general requirements and typical salary for this position.

Degree Required None required; associate's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Accounting
Finance
Business administration
Certification Options Certified Bookkeeper designation
Key Skills Organization, mathematical knowledge, computer proficiency, communication
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8% (for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks)*
Average Salary (2015) $38,990 (for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as an Accounts Payable Specialist?

Accounts payable specialists perform essential tasks that affect a company's credit rating. Smaller companies employ general-accounting staff members who manage most of the daily financial procedures. In larger companies, accounting professionals are assigned specialized duties or titles. Generally, your duties as an accounts payable specialist will support the processes of recording and paying a company's bills.

You can expect to receive and pay bills and invoices, execute bill coding, complete postings to a general ledger, verify the accuracy of transactions and generate financial reports. As you advance through your career, you may execute accounts receivable tasks, complete reconciliations, generate complex reports and perform auditing duties.

What Education Will I Need?

Employers typically require you to have at least a high school diploma before they will hire you to work as an accounts payable specialist. Many also prefer that you complete some post-secondary education. Colleges, universities and related associations offer 2-year, 4-year and certification programs in accounting, business administration or finance. Accounts payable specialists rarely need a bachelor's degree, but industry knowledge, such as federal and state accounting regulations, is important.

Certification programs, such as the Certified Bookkeeper credential offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, can prepare you for entry-level positions in the accounting field. Certification programs offer training in reconciliation, fraud prevention and managing financial entries. Knowledge of accounting software is a valuable asset, and you should also have strong computer, mathematics, communication and critical thinking skills.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that accounting clerks, in general, earned an average wage of $38,990 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). You can expect to earn higher wages working as an accounts payable specialist in the postal service or securities and commodity exchange industry. Salaries in these industries were $63,840 and $57,780, respectively, in 2015. The average salary depends on several factors, including your location, the size of the company and your duties.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As an accounting clerk at a large organization, you could get a job as a specialist in a different area, such as accounts receivable. Accounts receivable specialists are in charge of the company's invoices, ensuring that customers and clients pay what is owed. Like accounts payable specialists, no postsecondary degree is required, but an associate's degree can boost job prospects. Alternatively, you could consider becoming an auditing clerk, where your job would be to verify the mathematical accuracy of financial documents. Aspiring auditing clerks may need to complete some postsecondary education before they can get a job.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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