A school accountant is an individual who manages the finances of a university, high school, primary school, or other educational facility. He or she is responsible for balancing budgets, acquiring funds and supplies, paying bills, and keeping detailed financial records. School accountants and their assistants also manage employee payroll and benefits, and make themselves available to answer questions and concerns. Some successful accountants are able to find employment at larger institutions or central offices for entire school districts.
In order to maintain solid financial standing and ensure that programs and departments receive the funding they need, a school accountant must keep very careful, comprehensive monetary records. He or she must record all transactions, organize receipts and purchase orders, and ensure that bills are paid in a timely manner. An accountant usually conducts scheduled monthly and yearly audits to make sure that records are entirely accurate. He or she thoroughly inspects audits to determine a number of important details, such as areas where money can be saved and departments that are in need of additional funds.
Accountants in school systems ensure that both salaried and hourly employees receive the appropriate compensation and benefits. Teachers, janitors, and administrative workers depend on competent accountants to prepare their checks and maintain records about their vacation time and benefits packages. In addition, many accountants work directly with new employees to explain payroll procedures. When a discrepancy or error is found in an employee's check or financial record, the school accountant attempts to resolve the issue or bring the concern to the attention of school officials when necessary.
Most school accountants employ specialized computer programs, word processing software, databases, and spreadsheets to help them manage financial records. A professional must be comfortable working with computers, learning new software programs, and mastering the ability to enter data quickly and accurately. Individuals are frequently required to type and print invoices, purchase orders, receipts, and financial reports.
An individual who is interested in becoming a school accountant must usually obtain at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or business administration. Some school accountants, especially university employees and those that oversee entire districts, frequently hold master's degrees in the field. New accountants typically train under established accountants and administrators to learn the details of a specific job. Depending on the location and employer, a school accountant may be required to obtain licensing before working independently, which usually entails passing a written exam administered by the individual's state or country.