An accounting assistant is an entry level position; this individual may work with an individual accountant or as part of an accounting department in a larger corporation. It involves daily bookkeeping and file maintenance, and it may also involve assisting customers or doing other office work and file maintenance. Generally, people who want to become an accounting assistant will need to have a few years of bookkeeping experience, or a certificate in this specific field. The certificate generally only takes a few months to obtain and makes an individual eminently more likely to be hired.
Some people completing lengthier accounting programs, such as the bachelor's and master's degrees, and who are generally required to become a certified public accountant, will work in the interim as accounting assistants in order to gain experience. This can look great on a resume in addition to increasing a candidates accounting skills. What an accounting assistant does on a daily basis can vary widely depending on whether the individual works for an individual accountant or for a larger company or accounting firm. Generally, it involves a combination of bookkeeping and office work.
In larger corporations, an accounting assistant will frequently work in the payroll and accounts payable/receivable department. This person will need to keep accurate records of funds that go in and out of the company, and will often need to reconcile things like employee hours, vacation or sick time used, or other payments that need to be made. The accounting assistant might also collect invoices from vendors or other services, and either make payments, or note payments received, on these accounts. It is important for anyone wanting to work in this position to have a very high attention to detail, excellent mathematical skills, and the ability to check his or her own work for errors.
A person who works for an accountant as an accounting assistant may have different tasks as well. In addition to assisting in financial work, such as preparing financial statements, the assistant may also do tasks in the office, such as answering phones, maintaining a filing system, and composing mailings, or other types of correspondence. In addition, greeting customers when they come in to the office is also a frequent part of the job. It is important for the assistant to be knowledgeable about at least basic practices of the accounting firm in order to answer questions asked by customers or direct them to someone who can.