What Does an Accountant Trainee Do?

Helen Akers

An accountant trainee gradually takes on the responsibilities of a mid-level accountant as he develops his skills. Major job duties include assisting with financial reports, managing the vendor bid process, expense control, financial project management, and auditing. Depending upon the needs of the company, the trainee may help prepare estimates, come up with ideas for financial management policies, strategies, and information technology applications. Maintaining accurate records is also an important part of the job, as trainees are often in charge of recording receipts and expenses.

An accountant trainee may assist with financial reports.
An accountant trainee may assist with financial reports.

Placement in an accountant trainee position after the completion of a two or four-year college degree can be the beginning of an accounting career. The position is designed to give the trainee time to apply and develop his knowledge in accounting practices, including the recording of cash inflows and outflows in a general ledger. Since the typical goal is to develop the employee into a future manager or executive, a trainee may be responsible for a wide range of financial management activities, such as audits, official financial reports, and budget control. Official financial reporting may vary by country and could include the preparation of a balance sheet, cash flow statement, and income statement.

Mentors may help accountant trainees learn how to do their jobs.
Mentors may help accountant trainees learn how to do their jobs.

Generating ideas for a company's financial management strategy is a process that an accountant trainee may participate in. As he gains experience with the organization's current policies and practices, he may come up with more efficient and innovative methods. A few companies pair trainees with mentors who are in charge of acquainting them with the company's standard business practices. In some instances, mentors may work with trainees to develop ideas and make recommendations to senior level management.

Most organizations are not completely self-reliant and often form relationships with outside vendors to fulfill business operations. An accountant trainee may assist with the vendor or supplier bid process, including invoicing, cost evaluation, and fulfilling payment obligations. He will most likely help with collection and follow-up activities with vendors that his organization works with. Part of controlling expenses involves collecting past due payments and ensuring that write-offs are minimized.

Budget control and design is usually part of an accountant trainee's job responsibilities. This often involves alerting supervisors when expenses and income are in danger of falling short of expectations. When this occurs, the trainee may provide recommendations as to how to get the organization back on track or come up with strategies to remedy the situation. In some cases, these ideas might involve redesigning financial processes that involve computer software applications.

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