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Become A Senior Accountant

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Working As A Senior Accountant

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Getting Information
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $72,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Accountant Do

A senior accountant is an upper level accounting professional who usually reports directly to a controller or assistant controller or, in the public accounting world, one of the partners.

How To Become A Senior Accountant

Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification within a specific field of accounting improves job prospects. For example, many accountants become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).  


Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

A few universities and colleges offer specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in internal auditing. In some cases, those with associate’s degrees, as well as bookkeepers and accounting clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, get junior accounting positions and advance to accountant positions by showing their accounting skills on the job.

Many colleges help students gain practical experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will often pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.

CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.

A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.

All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that they pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part.

Almost all states require CPAs to take continuing education to keep their license.

Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:

The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct. The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management. 

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The IIA also offers the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) to those who pass the exams and meet educational and experience requirements.

ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems. Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.

For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. The ABV requires a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education. The CITP requires 1,000 hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.


Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.

Beginning public accountants often advance to positions with more responsibility in 1 or 2 years and to senior positions within another few years. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.

Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions. As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents.

Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants. However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds.  

Communication skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others. They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports.

Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation.

Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.

Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients.

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Senior Accountant jobs

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Senior Accountant Career Paths

Senior Accountant
Staff Accountant Accounting Manager
Accounting Director
11 Yearsyrs
Staff Accountant Finance Analyst
Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Business Manager Controller
Accounting Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Accountant Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Corporate Accounting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Controller
Corporate Controller
12 Yearsyrs
Assistant Controller Finance Manager Controller
Director Of Accounting & Finance
11 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Senior Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Division Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Audit Manager Internal Auditor Assistant Controller
Divisional Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Assistant Controller Controller
Finance Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Senior Finance Analyst
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Business Analyst Senior Finance Analyst
Finance Planning Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Assistant Controller Controller
Finance Vice President
9 Yearsyrs
Finance Manager Business Manager Controller
Interim Controller
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Accountant Accounting Supervisor Accounting Manager
Manager/Finance Accounting
8 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Accounting Manager
Plant Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Controller Controller
Regional Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Controller Accounting Consultant Accounting Manager
Reporting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Assistant Vice President Office Manager Accounting Manager
Senior Accounting Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Finance Manager Finance Director
Senior Director Of Finance
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Finance Manager
Senior Finance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
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Senior Accountant Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • Mandarin

  • Chinese

  • French

  • Russian

  • Cantonese

  • German

  • Portuguese

  • Arabic

  • Korean

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Hindi

  • Vietnamese

  • Polish

  • Ukrainian

  • Amharic

  • Hebrew

  • Greek

  • Thai

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Senior Accountant

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Real Senior Accountant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Accountant Shake-N-Go Fashion, Inc. Port Washington, NY Jan 08, 2016 $156,520
Senior Professional Accountant IBM Corporation Somers, NY Aug 14, 2015 $152,000
Accountant (Senior Corporate Controller) Wente Bros. Inc. Livermore, CA May 19, 2015 $143,929
Senior Accountant Open Society Foundations New York, NY Sep 15, 2015 $140,000
Senior Accountant Origin LLC Burbank, CA Dec 21, 2015 $140,000
Senior Accountant McKinsey & Company, Inc. United States New York, NY Aug 15, 2016 $126,138
Senior Accountant VF Wine, Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 17, 2016 $125,000
Senior Accountant Kam-Way Transportation Inc. Blaine, WA Oct 09, 2016 $120,000
Senior Accountant Kam-Way Transportation Inc. Blaine, WA Sep 23, 2015 $120,000
Senior Accountant Kam-Way Transportation Inc. Blaine, WA Sep 20, 2016 $120,000
Senior Accountant-Consolidations Ferrotec (USA) Corporation Santa Clara, CA Sep 05, 2015 $119,203
SR Accountant Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 17, 2016 $116,200
Senior Accountant VR Inc. Medford, OR Apr 04, 2016 $116,000
Senior Accountant Vision, USA, Inc. San Leandro, CA Aug 19, 2016 $115,003
Senior Accountant Sareen & Associates Inc. Manassas, VA Feb 11, 2015 $84,500
Senior Accountant-Revenue Operations Nuance Communications, Inc. Burlington, MA Mar 09, 2015 $84,500
Senior II Accountant Raffa, P.C. Washington, DC Mar 11, 2015 $84,323
Senior Accountant Benefit Administration Company, LLC Seattle, WA Sep 04, 2015 $84,157
Senior Accountant Bean Hunt Harris & Company Fresno, CA Mar 06, 2016 $84,136
Senior Accountant Pandya Kapadia & Associates, CPA, P.A. South Plainfield, NJ Sep 17, 2015 $84,000
Senior Accountant Democracy International, Inc. Bethesda, MD Nov 06, 2015 $84,000
Senior Accountant AWA Security, Inc. Hialeah, FL Oct 25, 2016 $83,741
Senior Accountant Creative Choice Homes, Inc. Palm Beach Gardens, FL Dec 08, 2015 $72,051
Senior Accountant I East West Bank Pasadena, CA May 16, 2016 $72,000
Senior Accountant Z & S Management Corporation CA Nov 21, 2016 $72,000
Senior Accountant Kalthia Hotel Management LLC San Diego, CA Jan 01, 2015 $72,000
Senior I Accountant Raffa, P.C. Washington, DC Apr 20, 2016 $72,000
Revenue Senior Accountant Cornerstone Ondemand, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Sep 12, 2016 $72,000 -
Senior Accountant Z & S Management Corporation Inc. CA Nov 21, 2016 $72,000

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Top Skills for A Senior Accountant


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Top Senior Accountant Skills

  1. Monthly Financial Statements
  2. Monthly Journal Entries
  3. General Ledger Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Consolidated and prepared monthly financial statements.
  • Prepared and posted monthly journal entries for revenue.
  • Balanced the general ledger accounts for all ATM withdrawals, deposits & adjustments.
  • Developed and implemented system for recording and accurately depreciating fixed assets and amortizing prepaid contracts.
  • Supported audit requests providing information to internal and external auditors.

Top Senior Accountant Employers

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