Assistant accountants, also known as accounting assistants, work in a support role alongside other more senior financial staff. They have a range of different responsibilities, predominantly providing administration help. They are a junior member of the finance team and will usually report to a financial accountant, management accountant or finance manager. By accurately performing their duties and expanding their skills, they free up the time of the senior finance team to allow them to focus on complex issues and support other areas of the business. It can be a popular entry-level role with students working toward professional exams and is often perceived as the first step toward a career in accountancy.
Assistant accountant responsibilities
Whilst your responsibilities as an assistant accountant will vary based on where you’re employed, the level of experience you have as well as daily circumstances, generally you will perform the following:
- Maintaining financial records
- Preparing reports
- Raising invoices and credit notes
- Processing expenses
- Supporting payroll, credit control and debt chasing
- Preparing statutory accounts
- Purchase ledgers
- Filing out purchase orders
- Managing petty cash
The more experienced you are, the more complex your tasks will become. You may find that you are given more responsibility as time progresses and that you work closer with the other staff you support.
Because this is an entry-level role, it isn’t essential that you have a degree or equivalent qualification. You can be trained entirely on the job for this role. However, you should anticipate having at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C (or equivalent) including maths. Having A-Levels will also increase your chances of landing an assistant accountant job. However, if you want to gain a qualification, having any degree in business, finance or accounting will be a step in the right direction.
Aside from this, you could also complete the AAT Level 2, 3 or 4 in accounting – this will provide you will skills that are directly relevant to the role. Level 2 is perfect for school leavers who wish to pursue a career in accountancy and finance, and when you have completed this level, you can progress to level 3 and so on. Beyond this, if you intend on having a full career in accountancy you could undertake an accountancy apprenticeship – this can allow you to work whilst you study for a qualification.
Assistant accountant skills
There are a range of skills that are beneficial for an assistant accountant to have, both technical and soft. These include:
To succeed as an assistant accountant, you must know how to use computers both to record and calculate data, but also to perform research. Many financial teams use specialised accounting software too, so you need to be proficient enough to learn how to use these. Aside from this, having good Excel skills is beneficial too, as you will have to deal with databases and spreadsheets on a daily basis. These are used for everyday tasks, like entering information from bills or receipts.
Accountancy as a career revolves around numbers, so you need to be confident in your mathematical abilities. You’ll work with numbers daily, so you must have basic maths skills at the highest levels. Whilst you will often use a specialised system on the computer to calculate most transactions, assistants need to be able to check back for accuracy in order to avoid errors. You should also be able to perform tasks such as determining interest charges, balancing billing vouchers and performing internal auditing.
Attention to detail
You must pay close attention as an assistant accountant to avoid making errors. To produce accurate financial records, you need to know how to check for errors as well as amend them, otherwise your work could be compromised. Assistant accountants will update statements, record transactions and check records for accuracy in figures, postings and reports, so you need to have a keen eye for detail.
It’s really important to work with integrity as part of any finance team, to keep records transparent to avoid misusing company funds. To do so, you must use financial information properly and ethically and keep the information confidential where appropriate. You will also need to inform supervisors of any discrepancies in reports or transactions.
Salary and benefits
Because this is an entry-level role, the salary and benefits offered will be highly circumstantial. They will depend on factors like the size of the company, the location, and your experience. The average salary for an assistant accountant is between £15,000 and £20,000. The more experienced you are, the higher your salary will be.
Career path of an assistant accountant
When applying for these kinds of roles, you may notice that you are often required to have 1-2 years of experience in a similar role. If you complete an apprenticeship, which will allow you to get full training on the job, this will qualify as experience. Aside from this, you could seek experience at a company that offers on the job training, as many companies are willing to do this with an entry-level position. If you have relevant qualifications – such as a degree or an accounting qualification – you can prove you are capable of learning.
As this is more of an entry-level role, many people progress from being an assistant to a fully qualified chartered accountant. Again, by taking courses with AAT or ACCA, you can develop your knowledge of accounting and progress in your career. Some employers may encourage you to undertake qualifications in order to progress, and can support your development in the workplace.
Find out more about our accountancy courses here.