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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

  • $70,510

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Accountant Do

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently. 

Duties

Accountants and auditors typically do the following:

  • Examine financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations
  • Compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time
  • Inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures
  • Organize and maintain financial records
  • Assess financial operations and make best-practices recommendations to management
  • Suggest ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits

In addition to examining and preparing financial documentation, accountants and auditors must explain their findings. This includes preparing written reports and meeting face-to-face with organization managers and individual clients.

Many accountants and auditors specialize, depending on the particular organization that they work for. Some work for organizations that specialize in assurance services (improving the quality or context of information for decisionmakers) or risk management (determining the probability of a misstatement on financial documentation). Other organizations specialize in specific industries, such as healthcare.

Some workers with a background in accounting and auditing teach in colleges and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

The following are examples of types of accountants and auditors:

Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks. Their clients include corporations, governments, and individuals.

Public accountants work with financial documents that clients are required by law to disclose. These include tax forms and balance sheet statements that corporations must provide potential investors. For example, some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, advising corporations about the tax advantages of certain business decisions or preparing individual income tax returns.

Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Publicly traded companies are required to have CPAs sign documents they submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including annual and quarterly reports.

Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and possibly criminal financial transactions. Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.

Management accountants, also called cost, managerial, industrial, corporate, or private accountants, record and analyze the financial information of the organizations for which they work. The information that management accountants prepare is intended for internal use by business managers, not by the general public.

Management accountants often work on budgeting and performance evaluation. They also may help organizations plan the cost of doing business. Some may work with financial managers on asset management, which involves planning and selecting financial investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Government accountants maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by federal, state, and local governments ensure that revenues are received and spent in accordance with laws and regulations.

Internal auditors check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds. They identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud. The practice of internal auditing is not regulated, but The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) provides generally accepted standards.

External auditors perform similar duties as internal auditors, but are employed by an outside organization, rather than the one they are auditing. They review clients’ financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported.

Information technology auditors are internal auditors who review controls for their organization’s computer systems, to ensure that the financial data comes from a reliable source.

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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).  

Education

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.

Advancement

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 Career Paths

Senior Accountant
Tax Preparer Staff Accountant Assistant Controller
Assistant Corporate Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Controller
Controller, Vice President
11 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Finance Manager Controller
Controller/Business Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Staff Accountant Assistant Controller Controller
Controller/Director Of Finance
11 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Senior Finance Analyst Controller
Controller/Finance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Corporate Accounting Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Accounts Payable Manager Accountant Cost Accountant
Cost Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Finance Manager Controller
Director Of Accounting & Finance
11 Yearsyrs
Tax Preparer Accountant Assistant Controller
Divisional Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Business Manager Billing Manager Finance Coordinator
Finance/Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Controller Controller
Interim Controller
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Accountant Accounting Supervisor Accounting Manager
Manager, Accounting Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Controller Finance Consultant Senior Finance Analyst
Manager-Finance Systems
8 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Accounting Manager
Manager/Finance Accounting
8 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Assistant Controller Controller
Regional Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Controller Senior Finance Analyst
Regional Finance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Accountant Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Reporting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Staff Accountant Accounting Manager
Senior Accounting Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Plant Controller
Unit Controller
8 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Chief Accountant 4.5 years
Senior Accountant 4.0 years
Accountant 3.5 years
Staff Accountant 3.0 years
Revenue Accountant 2.7 years
Junior Accountant 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Senior Accountant
Accountant 21.0%
Controller 5.5%
Auditor 2.0%
Bookkeeper 1.9%
Top Careers After Senior Accountant
Controller 13.9%
Accountant 11.5%
Consultant 4.1%
Manager 2.7%
Supervisor 1.3%

Do you work as a Senior Accountant?

Senior Accountant Demographics

Gender

Female

51.9%

Male

45.1%

Unknown

3.0%
Ethnicity

White

56.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.1%

Asian

12.5%

Black or African American

11.4%

Unknown

4.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

39.3%

Mandarin

8.8%

French

8.7%

Chinese

8.7%

Russian

5.4%

Cantonese

4.1%

German

3.5%

Arabic

3.0%

Portuguese

2.9%

Korean

2.7%

Italian

2.5%

Japanese

2.2%

Hindi

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Ukrainian

1.1%

Amharic

0.9%

Hebrew

0.7%

Thai

0.7%

Greek

0.7%
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Senior Accountant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

23.1%

Strayer University

7.5%

University of Houston

7.1%

Pace University - New York

5.0%

DePaul University

4.9%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.9%

Northeastern University

4.7%

University of Maryland - University College

4.2%

George Mason University

3.9%

Hofstra University

3.6%

Georgia State University

3.5%

San Jose State University

3.4%

Temple University

3.3%

New York University

3.3%

San Diego State University

3.1%

Northern Illinois University

3.0%

Liberty University

2.9%

University of Texas at Dallas

2.9%

Florida Atlantic University

2.9%

Drexel University

2.9%
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Majors

Accounting

56.8%

Business

25.2%

Finance

9.6%

Management

2.0%

Economics

1.1%

Taxation

0.8%

Marketing

0.4%

Education

0.4%

Law

0.4%

Business/Commerce

0.4%

Human Resources Management

0.4%

Management Information Systems

0.3%

International Business

0.3%

Business Economics

0.3%

Computer Information Systems

0.3%

Computer Science

0.3%

Public Administration

0.3%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.3%

Project Management

0.3%

Psychology

0.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.2%

Masters

31.8%

Other

7.8%

Associate

2.7%

Certificate

2.3%

Doctorate

0.7%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Senior Accountant Videos

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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 Origin LLC Burbank, CA Dec 21, 2015 $140,000
Senior Accountant Open Society Foundations New York, NY Sep 15, 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 Sep 20, 2016 $120,000
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-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 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 Walgreen Co. Deerfield, IL Apr 08, 2016 $83,500
Senior Accountant Rose Financial Services, LLC Rockville, MD Jul 09, 2016 $71,718 -
$76,718
SR. Accountant Chawla & Chawla P.C. Gaithersburg, MD May 07, 2016 $71,718
Senior Accountant Tate & Tryon, P.C. Washington, DC Sep 06, 2015 $71,365
Senior Accountant Joseph V. Lamantia Jr. Et Al Partners L&F Dist LLC El Paso, TX Nov 28, 2016 $71,310
Senior Accountant Automotive Financial Group, Inc. Grapevine, TX Feb 19, 2016 $71,094
SR. Accountant Quigg Properties LLC Los Angeles, CA Jan 12, 2015 $71,000
Senior Accountant Abdo Eick and Meyers LLP Edina, MN Oct 31, 2015 $71,000

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Top Skills for A Senior Accountant

  1. Financial Statements
  2. Journal Entries
  3. General Ledger Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared and maintained financial statements and related supporting schedules, and made recommendations to senior management.
  • Develop and modified general accounting daily procedures including automating all journal entries uploads to the general ledger via excel.
  • Completed external audit by analyzing and scheduling general ledger accounts; providing information for auditors.
  • Developed and implemented system for recording and accurately depreciating fixed assets and amortizing prepaid contracts.
  • Prepared and evaluated balance sheet account reconciliations including prepaid operating expenses, accrual expenses, and inter- company transactions.

What is it like to work as a Senior Accountant

4.0

Accounting is Fun

April 12, 2019 on Zippia

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Accountants

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New York
  4. Texas
  5. Indiana
  6. Washington
  7. New Jersey
  8. California
  9. Delaware
  10. Connecticut
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  • (2,516 jobs)
  • (508 jobs)
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  • (96 jobs)
  • (463 jobs)

Top Senior Accountant Employers

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Jobs From Top Senior Accountant Employers

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