The Finance & Accounting Department – what do we do?
An accounting department provides accounting services and financial support to the organisation it belongs to. The department records accounts payable (money that is owed to suppliers) or expenses, and accounts receivables (money that is owed to the company) or Income, inventory, payroll, fixed assets and all other financial elements. The department’s accountants review the records of each department to determine the company’s financial position and any changes required to run the organisation cost-effectively.
While not every member of the team will be a qualified Certified Public Accountant, (CPA) or Chartered Accountant, (CA) most team members will generally have training in bookkeeping processes and procedures. By developing an accounting department, a company can help ensure full transparency in its financial transactions, while also providing specialised, centralised support to other teams and managers. Quality financial management can help to ensure the ongoing financial health of a business.
Entry level positions include Trainee Accountant, Graduate Accountant, Assistant Accountant, Accounts Assistant or Accounts Officer. Depending on the size of the company, these positions usually will accept from nil to 12 months practical experience. This experience can be gained from part-time work during study breaks, possibly assisting or volunteering at your local sports club, community service centre or family business. You maybe also studying part-time and working full time.
Accounts Assistant/Trainee Accountant/Accounts Officer
Entry level – $50,000 – $55,000
Accounts Assistants usually work as part of a finance team or supporting a Financial Accountant or Financial Controller to ensure that particular accounts, payments and bank reconciliations are accurately and efficiently processed. Accounts Assistants are important members of a finance team, and may be particularly busy at certain times, such as when they are preparing and finalising month-end, quarterly and year-end accounts, audits and reports.
- Preparing and processing payments and invoices, reconciling accounts and expenditures.
- Preparing financial statements and budgets, including profit and loss statements.
- Supporting financial practitioners and senior staff members as required, which may include processing documentation related to taxation, financial reporting, operating budgets, quotations and inventory adjustments.
- Managing petty cash and staff expenses.
- Responding to customer, vendor and employee enquiries.
- Processing payments.
- Reconciling bank statements.
- Providing general administrative support when needed.
With keen attention to detail and accuracy, Accounts Assistants thrive if they have superior organisational skills and are confident using finance software and programs such as Excel, MYOB and NetSuite.
How to become an Accounts Assistant/Trainee/
Being an Accounts Assistant is one of the first steps you can take towards forging a successful career in accounting or finance. Recent accounting graduates or people studying accountancy are ideally situated to work as an Accounts Assistant.
- Bachelor of Accounting; Bachelor of Business, Majoring in Accounting. Gain experience in the field and if you wish to further your career within accounting consider further study, such as a specialisation in Chartered or Public Practice.
- Advanced Diploma of Accounting; This qualification will prepare you to use theoretical and technical accounting knowledge in a range of situations.
- Diploma of Accounting; This diploma will provide you with the skills needed to find employment in professional accounting roles in the financial and other services industry.
- Diploma of Accounting, Commerce and Business Administration; This diploma provides a foundation in core business topics and may provide a pathway into the second year of a Bachelor degree.
- Certificate IV in Business Administration; with this qualification you will develop your administrative skills and learn to provide leadership and guidance to others.
What’s it like to be an Accounts Officer?
Accounts Officers coordinate income and expense activities for companies. They are also responsible for bookkeeping, petty cash, employee expenses and reconciling invoices.
The good things
“With this role I develop excellent lines of communication with clients and stakeholders and maintaining relationships build on trust and reliability. Math has been one of my favourite subject in my school days so I enjoyed it very much as this job requires strong math. I also gained more experience in typing, and computer skills, especially with bookkeeping software. Excellent communication, research, problem solving and time management skills, also high level of accuracy, efficiency and accountability. I have Excel with my role and am really enjoying my career as Accounts Assistant. My success is also the result of the strength of my personal and client-focus approach.”
“Most important challenge is to do more when it comes to end of month reporting yet I got it all done on time.”
Accounts Payable Clerk
Entry Level salary $45,000 – 50,000
When a company has invoices to verify and reconcile, an accounts payable clerk can be vital for ensuring that these matters are handled properly. An accounts payable clerk is professionally trained in all manner of invoice management, including both their initial receipt and processing.
- Completes payments and controls expenses by receiving, processing, verifying, and reconciling invoices.
- Reconciles processed work by verifying entries and comparing system reports to balances.
- Charges expenses to accounts and cost centres by analysing invoice/expense reports; recording entries.
- Pays vendors by monitoring discount opportunities, scheduling and preparing checks, and resolving purchase order, contract, invoice, or payment discrepancies and documentation.
- Ensures credit is received for outstanding credits
- Issues stop-payments or purchase order amendments.
- Pays employees by receiving and verifying expense reports and requests for advances;
- Maintains accounting ledgers by verifying and posting account transactions.
- Verifies vendor accounts by reconciling monthly statements and related transactions.
- Maintains historical records by microfilming and filing documents.
- Disburses petty cash by recording entry and verifying documentation.
- Reports GST by calculating requirements on paid invoices.
- Protects organization’s value by keeping information confidential.
- Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities.
How to become an Accounts Payable Clerk
While formal qualifications aren’t required to become an Accounts Payable Officer, a solid understanding of bookkeeping and accounting is needed. Employers may prefer individuals who have qualifications in a related field or those with several years’ experience in accounts payable.
- Gain experience in the field with an entry-level position or alternatively, undertake qualifications in finance or economics, accounting, business or commerce. This may be a course such as a Diploma of Accounting or Bachelor of Accounting
- Investigate whether you also need skills in software such as MYOB and Xero.
- There are multiple opportunities for Accounts Payable Officers who wish to further their career, such as working up to senior or managerial roles or to anAssistant Accountant position.
What’s it like to be an Accounts Payable Clerk
An Accounts Payable Officer is responsible for finalising payments and managing expenses for items sold and services provided to customers or clients. They may also manage the payment cycle for employees of the organisation.
The good things
“Accounts Payable role is very rewarding you are in control of your company’s expenses which is very important, so this role has a great responsibility to it which makes you feel that you are an integral part of the business. This role is a great stepping-stone to a supervisor position. In staying that the accounts payable job is a great job in itself.”
“Just a couple of challenges as you speak to a diverse range of business you need to be flexible in your approach to talking to people. The other challenges are you need to be able to multitask and be very organised. These are small challenges but the good things definitely out-weigh these minor challenges.”
Entry level salary $45,000 – $52,000
- Maintaining a billing system, processing payments regularly and ensuring payments are made within agreed terms, reconciling debtor accounts and verifying and providing receipts.
- Achieve Company’s cash flow targets and days outstanding within terms
- Recording transactions and uploading bank files into the organisation’s accounting and finance system, in addition to providing cashier and reconciliation support to the finance team.
- Escalating overdue payments by contacting a supervisor or manager and helping conduct negotiations with customers in financial difficulty.
A variety of workplaces employ Accounts Receivable Officers, including non-profit organisations, educational institutions, finance and accounting firms, and transport companies.
How to become and Accounts Receivable Clerk
While it is may be an advantage to have experience in accounting, finance, economics or business administration to work as an Accounts Receivable Officer, a bachelor-level qualification is not essential. However, a degree or qualification in a related field may be highly regarded.
- Undertake a qualification in accounting, finance or business administration, such as a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping or a Diploma in Accounting
- Gain work experience in the field and consider studying for a Bachelor degree to improve your chances to be promoted into senior or managerial roles.
What’s it like to be an Accounts Receivable Clerk?
Accounts Receivable Officers work as part of a finance team to ensure that an organisation receives payments for goods sold and services provided to customers or clients. Accounts Receivable Officers tend to be individuals who have a strong mathematical background and who have a keen eye for detail. They need to be persistent, yet courteous and understanding, without losing track of securing payment.
The good things
“Good things about being Accounts Receivable Officer is you get to understand the importance of cash flow cycle in an organisation by matching the company demands to expected cash in-flows. The role is so motivating because it keeps you running with no idle moments.”
“Challenges of Accounts Receivable is being able to keep up with the numerous reporting requirements. Senior management always want to be current in terms of cash flow. The other challenge is to be able to contain pressure from senior management by maintaining good relationship with clients while pushing them to make timely payments.”
Administrative Assistant – Job Description
Entry level salary $45,000 – $55,000
Administrative Assistants are responsible for running and coordinating the day-to-day administrative duties of an organisation. Traditionally, an Administrative Assistant job description highlights the importance of organisation skills, communication skills and the capacity to manage several tasks or requests simultaneously. Soft skills such as being professional and exceptional with time management are also valuable to include.
Usually Administration Assistants work weekdays between the hours of 8.30am – 6pm. It is common to be employed within a variety of settings such as education, healthcare, private business, industry and the not-for-profit sector.
Central to smooth process and efficiency, an Administrative Assistant job description generally includes some of the below tasks and responsibilities:
- Answering and directing incoming phone calls to relevant staff
- Scheduling meetings and appointments
- Ordering and taking stock of office supplies
- Being a point of contact for a range of staff and external stakeholders
- Preparing documents for meetings and business trips
- Processing and directing mail and incoming packages or deliveries
- Greeting and directing visitors and new staff to the organisation
- Writing and issuing emails to teams and departments on behalf of teams or senior staff
- Researching and booking travel arrangements for staff members
- Finding ways to improve administrative processes
- Generally, be supportive to any ad hoc projects that may require assistance
How to become an Administrative Assistant
Administrative Assistant job qualifications and requirements. Formal qualifications and degrees are not traditionally required for Administrative Assistant roles. However, there are courses and certificates for candidates that are valuable to the role. These include:
- Certificate in Business Administration
- Diploma in Business Administration, or
- Bachelor of Business Administration
- Proficiency in MS Office, with exceptional knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint
- Working knowledge of Google Docs, Outlook
- Knowledge of project and task management tools such as Basecamp, Trello and Smartsheet
What’s it like to be an Administrative Assistant?
The good things
“Being an Admin Support Officer brings great job satisfaction knowing that you have the expertise to support all departments in an organisation. You get to help everyone and boy do they appreciate it! Supporting all departments also brings variety in the daily tasks because everyone’s needs are different. It’s one of the most appreciated positions in any organisation! It’s also great if you’re happy to stay where you are. I’m at a stage in my career where I’m not looking for advancement, just job security, satisfaction and a good work/life balance.”
“Challenges are probably limited to your organisation skills. When more than one area needs help and they all need it NOW you have to be able to prioritise and know who to call on for backup if YOU need it. Sometimes instructions aren’t particularly clear, so you need to be confident to ask questions to ensure you fully understand the task at hand to avoid disappointment. Make sure you quote back to them what you are being asked to do it you’re not sure and don’t be afraid to do so.”
Data Entry Operator
Entry level salary $45,000 – $50,000
Preparing and sorting files ready for data entry.
- Keying data into databases or spreadsheets, while monitoring for accuracy.
- Resolving data discrepancies and obtaining further information for files with missing data.
- Creating data backups.
- Testing new software and finding new ways to enhance the data entry process.
- Responding to requests for information from authorised staff.
- File and archive management.
How to become a Data Entry Operator
You don’t need formal qualifications to become a Data Entry Operator, however, computer or business courses may assist you to develop the required skills. This may also be a starting point to further your career to an IT path, eg Database Administrator or Data Analyst with further studies. These positions rely on accurate entry of information, so start off slow to limit errors and with time, you will pick up speed which will make you more a more valuable employee with the combination of high speed and accuracy!
- Consider completing a Certificate II in Information, Digital Media and Technology to develop foundational skills in IT.
- Alternatively, complete a Certificate III in Business Administration, through TAFE or a registered training organisation to build your administrative skills.
What’s it like to be a Data Entry Operator?
Data Entry Operators input data into computers for processing, report production and management. Their inputs need to be accurate, meticulous and fast. The data, sometimes sensitive in nature, can come from multiple sources. Reporting and file management are often part of the job.
The good things
“It gives you a sense of fulfillment, you can complete a job from start to finish from around 5 mins up to a day and know it does not need to be looked at again. There is flexibility and keeps you thinking and alert.”
“It can be repetitive and includes long sessions in front of a computer.”