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Working As A Staff Accountant

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

  • Repetitive

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff 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. 


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 Staff 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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Staff Accountant Career Paths

Staff Accountant
Accountant Senior Accountant Controller
Regional Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Tax Accountant Senior Tax Accountant Tax Manager
Senior Tax Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Accountant Senior Accountant Accounting Manager
Senior Accounting Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Accountant Cost Accountant
Cost Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Senior Accountant Accounting Manager
Division Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Senior Finance Analyst
Manager, Finance Analysis
8 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Corporate Accounting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Finance Manager Controller
Director Of Accounting & Finance
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Controller
Group Controller
11 Yearsyrs
Treasury Analyst Senior Treasury Analyst
Treasury Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager Finance Manager
Regional Finance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Charge Bookkeeper Office Manager Human Resources Manager
Controller, Operations, And Human Resources Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Assistant Controller
Divisional Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Cost Accountant Accounting Supervisor
Manager, Accounting Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Charge Bookkeeper Office Manager Assistant Controller
Assistant Corporate Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Cost Accountant Plant Controller
Unit Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Charge Bookkeeper Office Manager Administrative Manager
Administrative & Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Auditor Assistant Controller
Controller General Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Finance Officer Fiscal Officer
Fiscal Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Finance Officer Account Officer Assistant Account Manager
Finance Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Chief Accountant 4.7 years
Public Accountant 4.4 years
Control Accountant 4.2 years
Senior Accountant 3.9 years
Accountant 3.7 years
General Accountant 3.5 years
Staff Accountant 3.0 years
Tax Accountant 3.0 years
Bank Accountant 2.9 years
Revenue Accountant 2.8 years
Cash Accountant 2.6 years
Junior Accountant 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Staff Accountant
Accountant 16.0%
Bookkeeper 7.5%
Internship 3.9%
Controller 2.8%
Top Careers After Staff Accountant
Accountant 15.6%
Controller 9.7%
Bookkeeper 3.3%
Consultant 2.2%

Do you work as a Staff Accountant?

Average Yearly Salary
Show Salaries
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Highest Paying City
Washington, DC
Highest Paying State
New York
Avg Experience Level
3.0 years
How much does a Staff Accountant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Staff Accountant in the United States is $51,137 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $42,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $61,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Staff Accountant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Accountant Universal Construction Specialists, Inc. Aug 22, 2016 $184,747
Accountant Staff Juniper Networks Aug 03, 2015 $138,000
Staff Accountant BHN International, LLC (DBA. Lava Heat Italia) Sep 23, 2016 $120,370
Staff Accountant Saggar & Rosenberg, P.C. Nov 09, 2016 $120,000
Staff Accountant II Endurance Capital Management LLC Dec 22, 2015 $109,990
Staff Accountant Mozilla Corporation Feb 09, 2016 $107,120
Internal Control-Staff Accountant BSA Business Software Alliance, Inc. Mar 11, 2016 $103,168
Staff Accountant Cathay Home Inc. Dec 29, 2016 $96,741
Staff Accountant Waldman, Hirsch & Company, LLP Sep 23, 2016 $96,741
Staff Accountant Waldman, Hirsch & Company, LLP Jul 10, 2016 $96,741
Staff Accountant Collection XIIX, Ltd. Nov 15, 2016 $96,574
Staff Accountant Nasif, Hicks, Harris and Co., LLP Apr 28, 2015 $95,000
International Tax Staff Accountant CBS Corporate Services Inc. May 01, 2016 $93,475
Staff Accountant Silver Platinum Realty Management, Inc. Jan 13, 2016 $93,200
Staff Accountant Creative Management Inc. Sep 22, 2016 $56,160
Staff Accountant Greenland Us Holding, Inc. Sep 09, 2016 $56,064
Staff Accountant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. Aug 24, 2015 $56,000 -
Staff Accountant Francis & Company PLLC Jan 15, 2015 $56,000
Staff Acoountant Baywood Hotels, Inc. May 08, 2016 $56,000
Staff Accountant Paritz & Company, P.A. Feb 09, 2016 $56,000
Staff Accountant Marcum, LLP Aug 31, 2016 $56,000
Staff Accountant Trailways Transportation Systems, Inc. Aug 30, 2016 $56,000
Staff Accountant Cappellen & Associates, Inc. Nov 25, 2016 $50,086
Staff Accountant Houston Fruitland, Inc. Oct 25, 2016 $50,086
Staff Accountant Cappellen & Associates, Inc. Nov 13, 2016 $50,086
Compensation and Benefits Staff Accountant Gamestop Corp. Jun 03, 2015 $50,000
Staff Accountant Habbib, Zillen & Russell P.S. Sep 17, 2016 $50,000
Staff Accountant The Shafer Group, PC Jan 06, 2015 $50,000
Staff Accountant Parsi & Company, CPA May 21, 2015 $50,000
Staff Accountant HLB Gravier, LLP Sep 11, 2015 $50,000

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Top Skills for A Staff Accountant

  1. Financial Statements
  2. Income Tax Returns
  3. General Ledger Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Completed the monthly financial consolidations and preparation of external financial statements including balance sheet and income statements to Senior Management.
  • Executed overall engagement duties for audits, reviews and compilations and prepared income tax returns for corporations, partnerships and individuals
  • Administered the general bookkeeping aspect of client accounts, and maintained general ledger accounts for financial statement analysis and budgeting purposes.
  • Reconciled inventory at multiple foreign and domestic warehouses and adjusted journal entries to balance general ledger with perpetual inventory system.
  • Interacted with external auditors on communicating and presenting the supporting documentation to complete the internal control and financial statement audits timely.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Staff Accountants

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. New Jersey
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Texas
  8. Virginia
  9. California
  10. Colorado
  • (297 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)
  • (1,389 jobs)
  • (389 jobs)
  • (778 jobs)
  • (878 jobs)
  • (2,122 jobs)
  • (1,002 jobs)
  • (3,943 jobs)
  • (624 jobs)

Staff Accountant Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 85,307 Staff Accountant resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Staff Accountant Resume

View Resume Examples

Staff Accountant Demographics










Hispanic or Latino




Black or African American



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Foreign Languages Spoken








































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Staff Accountant Education


Strayer University


University of Houston


University of Maryland - University College


Southern New Hampshire University


DePaul University


University of Texas at Dallas


Georgia State University


Florida Atlantic University


George Mason University


Florida International University


Baruch College of the City University of New York


Pennsylvania State University


Kaplan University


University of South Florida


Pace University - New York


University of Texas at Arlington


San Diego State University


Kennesaw State University


California State University - Fullerton


Northeastern University

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Accounting And Computer Science






Human Resources Management


Management Information Systems




Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies


Business Economics


Computer Science


Criminal Justice


Health Care Administration






General Studies


International Business

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High School Diploma







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What Is It Like To Work As A Staff Accountant


Staff Accountant

February 27, 2020 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Staff Accountant.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Staff Accountant?

Reporting to a CPA Controller or CFO, always learning and not micromanaged. Treated as a professional always... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Business owners that do not know or understand compliance and GAAP, or the patience to follow the rules... generally common in small companies. .. Show More

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Updated May 18, 2020