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What Does an Accounting Specialist Do?

An accounting specialist records and manages financial information for companies. Read on to get a more in-depth accounting specialist job description, the skills and qualifications needed, education requirements, and the average accounting specialist salary.

What Is An Accounting Specialist?

An accounting specialist is a professional who keeps track of a company's incoming and outgoing transactions. Accounting specialists may also be referred to as accounts payable clerks, accounts receivable clerks, or just accounting clerks.

What Does an Accounting Specialist Do?

Depending on the size of the company they work for, accounting specialists may have various tasks and duties they must perform each day. Their main responsibility is to manage the financial accounts of a company and ensure that all transactions are being recorded correctly. Some specific responsibilities of an accounting specialist can include:

  • Recording ingoing and outgoing transactions
  • Managing payment schedules
  • Collaborating with co-workers to develop financial reports for management
  • Handling payroll
  • Reviewing quarterly and annual financial reports
  • Keeping an eye out for accounting irregularities and providing solutions
  • Making/receiving phone calls when necessary

Most accounting specialists work full-time in an office and have regular hours. Much of their work is independent, but they will need to collaborate with other employees, such as accountants, managers, and clerks from other departments.

Accounting Specialist Skills and Qualifications

Certain skills are needed to succeed as an accounting specialist and can be learned through formal education and/or on-the-job training. Some skills for accounting specialists include:

  • Computer and spreadsheet software
  • Math
  • Integrity
  • Detail-oriented
  • Organization
  • Verbal and written communication

Accounting specialists often use software such as Excel and Microsoft Word; they should be able to understand and create documents with this software. Since they deal with numbers, math skills are necessary as well. Accounting specialists should also have integrity, be detail-oriented, and show good organizational skills. They are handling the financial records and must be trusted not to misuse them, as well as keep an error-free record, and recognize when others make errors. Lastly, they should have strong verbal and written communication skills in order to get information across to others in a clear, concise way.

Some qualifications for accounting specialists include:

  • Previous related work experience
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Certification
  • Formal education

Accounting specialists typically need at least 1-2 years of related work experience in areas such as bookkeeping, accounting, or general office experience. A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum qualification, but many companies prefer some type of formal education, such as a bachelor's degree. Certification, such as a Certified Public Accounting title or a Certified Bookkeeper designation may be preferred and can give applicants a competitive edge.

Accounting Specialist Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks for 2018 was $40,240. Workers in the highest 10% made around $61,650 while those in the lowest 10% earned $25,260 or less. The BLS also reports a decline of 4% for jobs between 2018 and 2028. This decline is due to technological advances making facets of this job more efficient as well as replacing the need for some of these workers.

Education for Accounting Specialists

Although accounting specialists receive on-the-job training, courses in bookkeeping, accounting, or math can help. Many companies prefer their employees to have some kind of formal training or education beyond high school. An accounting specialist associate's degree can give an individual the education and skills necessary for success as an accounting clerk. Other degrees that can be useful in this area are associate's and bachelor's degrees in accounting.