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How Do I Become an Accounting Specialist?

Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Kenneth W. Michael Wills

Accounting specialist job titles vary in their meaning, depending on an employer’s requirements for the position and the level of responsibilities required of the vacancy. Requirements can differ considerably in light of this fact, ranging from accepting a high school graduate to the preference of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many accounting specialist jobs, however, fall somewhere in the middle, requiring either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in an accounting-related discipline. Duties will range from basic bookkeeping to responsibilities for crucial accounting functions and reporting. In addition, many vacancies will require prior experience in order to become an accounting specialist.

Positions that only require a high school diploma will often have a preference for applicants with some level of accounting training. These positions usually entail entry of accounting data, such as accounts payable and receivables, filing of related documents, entering and transmitting payroll, handling bank deposits, and sometimes performing basic human resource functions. Despite only requiring a high school diploma, employers advertising many of these positions will want to see at least a diploma in accounting and may even prefer a degree. Obtaining a certificate or diploma in basic accounting will help you become an accounting specialist at this level. This will also give you a competitive positioning among candidates with such qualifications as well as some related experience.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Other accounting specialist vacancies are more intermediate in nature, requiring more extensive responsibilities that demand a deeper knowledge of accounting theory, processes and principles. Often at this level, an accounting specialist will work under the direction of a high level manager, executive or CPA to carry out accounting duties. Managing financial records and handling related administrative duties are usually central to the job. Seeking to become an accounting specialist for such positions will require at least an Associate of Science in Accounting, and some employers may even prefer a bachelor’s degree to fulfill the position.

Higher levels of responsibility encompass some accounting specialist positions, demanding at the minimum a bachelor’s degree in an accounting or finance discipline, and sometimes require the CPA qualification. Employees in these positions often work independently and will report to either a manager or an administrator. They will hold budgeting responsibilities, auditing responsibilities, analytical responsibilities, and reconciliation responsibilities in addition to performing bookkeeping functions. Job candidates wanting to become an accounting specialist at this level will usually need at least three years of experience working in accounting, aside from meeting educational and/or CPA requirements.

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