A junior accountant's primary responsibility typically is to provide accounting support to senior accountants by performing many of the less-glamorous accounting tasks, thereby freeing up the senior accountants for other duties. People in this position will usually review the company's revenue and expenditures, and make suggestions for maximizing the company's finances. Ultimately, though, the authority to accept or reject those suggestions usually lies with the senior accountant.
Most junior accountants have obtained a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, such as math, business, or finance. Often, they have internship experience with a financial services firm or in the accounting department of an organization. Typically, a person in this job has less than five years of experience in the accounting field. There is, however, no industry standard of time, education, or experience for differentiating between junior and senior accountants — this distinction is typically left up to each individual company.
A typical junior accountant has not yet passed the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. As such, he or she is not yet allowed to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Although the tasks he or she performs on a daily basis cannot be considered menial, the tasks do require less specialized knowledge than what is required to file an SEC report.
For example, a junior accountant's day might be comprised of reviewing profit and loss statements and balance sheets to analyze a company's financial position. He or she may also prepare projection reports that suggest what the company's financial needs will be at various future points. These reports would ultimately be reviewed by company management, although he or she rarely has direct access to these executives. In most cases, he or she would submit all reports to a supervising accountant, who would approve each report before passing it up the chain of command.
As a junior accountant gains experience within an organization, he or she may begin to recognize an interest in specific areas. These areas could include internal auditing, bookkeeping, or personal finance. The managing senior accountant may mentor the him or her by identifying strengths and weaknesses, and guiding him or her toward a specialization.
In the United States, a junior accountant typically earns a salary that is 60 to 70 percent of a senior accountant's salary. Fortunately, the need for accountants has historically been strong, providing many opportunities for advancement within the field. Junior accountants typically can strengthen their position in the job market by being involved in accounting organizations and seeking certifications to make them more valuable to potential employers.