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Accounts Payable Class & Course Descriptions

Learn what accounts payable consists of and what an accounts payable student might learn about. Explore some of the careers that are available to individuals who have an understanding of accounts payable processes and content.

What is Accounts Payable?

Accounts payable is money that is owed and can be referred to as a balance (the money owed), a department (the people who oversee the balance) and a process (when the money owed is paid). Accounts payable includes receiving and processing invoices, paying money to those that debts are owed to, and maintaining accurate records. Many organizations have accounts payable balances which are managed by various professionals, from specific accounts payable departments to individual personnel. Someone with an understanding of accounts payable can prepare accounts payable documents, including receipts and checks.

Accounts Payable Definition Balances of money owed to organizations or individuals
Classes Typically included as part of accounting courses
Program Availability Certificates, associate's degree, bachelor's degree
Careers Accountants, bill collectors, bookkeeping, financial clerks, accounting clerks
Certification Accounts Payable Manager (APM), Accounts Payable Specialist (APS)

What are Accounts Payable Courses?

Accounts payable processes and topics aren't typically taught through a standalone course. Instead, they are included in introductory accounting classes, such as intro to accounting, fundamentals of accounting, and so on. Accounts payable knowledge is gained alongside complementary content, such as accounts receivable (money to be collected), financial statements, and inventory accounting methods.

What Programs Include Accounts Payable Coursework?

Accounts payable coursework is included in many business programs, including accounting-specific programs. Students pursuing a degree in administration, management, accounting, finance or a related field will likely take at least one accounting course. Students interested in accounts payable career pathways will have more exposure to accounts payable coursework. Some of the college programs that contain more accounting and accounts payable content are listed in the table below.

Program TypeLength Coursework Possible Class Titles
Certificate Less than 1 year Focused on accounting *Intro to Accounting
*Excel
*Financial Accounting
Associate's Degree 2 years Mix of general and accounting *Financial Accounting
*Managerial Accounting
*Taxation
Bachelor's Degree 4 years Mix of general and accounting *Financial Accounting
*Managerial Accounting
*Analysis of Financial Statements

What Are Accounts Payable Career Options?

There are several career options for individuals who have an understanding of accounts payable. The specific careers available depend on the individual's prior work experience and education. Some of the career possibilities are listed below.

Job Title Duties Typical Education Median Salary (2019)
Accountants and Auditors *Prepare/review financial statements
*Maintain records
*Compute balances
Bachelor's degree $71,550
Bill and Account Collectors *Contact debtors to collect money owed
*Negotiate payments
*Maintain records
Some college can be preferred $37,000
Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks *Process/post financial transactions
*Create financial reports
*Maintain records
Certificate or relevant coursework $41,230
Financial Clerks *Calculate balances and charges
*Post financial transactions
*Maintain financial records
Certificate or degree can be preferred $40,540

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is Accounts Payable Certification?

Those working in accounts payable positions aren't always required to have certification. Those working as accountants need to be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to be public accountants. Those interested in other positions may benefit from obtaining APM or APS certification (detailed below), although these are optional for most positions.

  • APM - Accredited Payable Manager - This certification is best suited for accounts payable professionals who have around 5 years of combined work experience and related education.
  • APS - Accredited Payable Specialist - APS is for those completing regular accounts payable tasks with less education and work experience.