An accounting clerk and accountant sound like the same thing, and many people cannot differentiate between the two roles. So what is the difference between an accountant and an accounting clerk?
The roles and responsibilities of an accounting clerk may vary from one firm to another, but the primary job requirements and tasks always remain.
Accounting clerks create, update, review, and maintain accounting records. Read on to learn how they differ from accountants.
What Is an Accounting Clerk?
An accounting clerk is a professional equipped with knowledge of accounts payables and receivables, enabling them to work with vendors and customers in an office environment.
They organize documents and apply debits and credits to accounts. In addition, these professionals verify codes for accuracy.
An accounting clerk job description also includes the responsibility of balancing financial entries and correcting errors. In fact, this is one of their primary roles when working in any company.
What Does an Accounting Clerk Do?
The following are accounting clerk duties the roles and responsibilities of an accounting clerk in a company:
- Classifying, computing, and recording numerical data: This enables them to fill financial records and routinely verify data figures through calculations.
- Storing, recording, and analyzing data and information: These professionals use accounting software and programmed computers to perform these tasks.
- Receiving and recording cash, vouchers, and cheques for banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
- Ensuring accuracy of documents and figures: As such, an accounting clerk must be well-versed with various software types and have enough technical skills to work with them.
- Maintaining efficiency and troubleshooting problems: A professional accounting clerk should be a critical thinker who uses this skill to solve challenges.
- Handling department records along with reconciliations to bank statements.
Remember, the primary responsibility of an accounting clerk is to balance entries and make corrections where necessary. Therefore, they work with different financial documents, post credits and debits to accounts, and sort various documents.
Accounting clerks can work in a wide range of industries. These include:
- Finance and insurance industries
- Professional, technical services, and scientific industries
- Wholesale and retail trade industries
Sometimes, you’ll find an accounting clerk specializing in payroll services, tax preparation, or bookkeeping.
While in most cases an accounting clerk will complete their tasks individually, it’s normal to find them working with managers and accountants from other departments. They perform most of the tasks in the office, although accounting clerks will occasionally visit clients at their places of work.
What Qualifications and Skills Does an Accounting Clerk Need?
While the role of an accounting clerk in a company may determine the skills the employer is looking for, there are several general requirements that every company will expect accounting clerk job seekers to meet. These include:
- A high school diploma: Note that most companies look for more field experience and further education
- Computer literacy
- Complete awareness and understanding of all accounting practices and procedures.
- Communication, problem-solving, and mathematical skills, and critical thinking
- Proficiency and activeness in listening, writing and speaking
- The ability and willingness to comply with all financial regulations set by the state, province, or the company itself
- Strong attention to detail to minimize mistakes
- Strong work ethic skills, professionalism, courtesy
- They must be dependable, cooperative, adaptable, and flexible
What Are the Responsibilities of an Accounting Clerk?
An accounting clerk is responsible for the following:
It’s the responsibility of an accounting clerk to analyze and review financial records.
If the clerk identifies an issue, they should document it, find a solution, and make the necessary corrections or adjustments. These professionals must also come up with methods to prevent such issues from happening again.
Since accounting clerks work with different financial documents, it’s their responsibility to sort them regularly. This ensures everything is in order, and that way, their clients and company can follow their financial plans easily.
Verifying Accuracy of Financial Statements
One of the skills accounting clerks must possess is attention to detail. It helps them when reviewing financial statements to verify their accuracy.
All the necessary elements, data, information, and figures must be present, accurate, and adhere to laws and regulations.
Working with Computers
Of course, accounting clerks perform most of their duties using computers. That’s why it’s crucial to be computer-literate.
In this line of work, they use different software. Some of the software accounting clerks use in their line of work includes:
- Accounting software
- Financial analysis software
- Compliance software
- Accounting tax software
- Query software (Microsoft Access) and database user interface
- Enterprise resource planning software
With the help of various software, accounting clerks can perform financial analyses. It also enables them to do enterprise resource planning.
Of course, accounting follows certain laws and regulations. It’s the responsibility of these professionals to ensure that their clients and companies adhere to them. That means they must be familiar with all laws affecting their employers and verify compliance all the time.
Operate Accounting Tools
Accounting clerks use accounting tools to make calculations and produce documents. Examples of such tools are 10-key calculators, typewriters, and copy machines.
The Difference Between Accountants and Accounting Clerks
Accountants and clerks have many similarities. At the same time, the two professions differ in the following ways:
A high school diploma is sufficient to qualify as an accounting clerk, although some firms may require higher qualifications before they can employ you.
On the other hand, an accountant typically has a higher level of education—a Bachelor’s degree, at the minimum.
A professional accounting clerk is only limited to bookkeeping, among other administrative tasks.
However, an accountant has several options to choose from. From the wide range of sub-fields in the accounting field, an accountant can opt to specialize in any of them. These advanced fields include audit, management accounting, and taxation.
Who Typically Becomes an Accounting Clerk?
For you to become a successful accounting clerk, you must possess certain characteristics:
- You must be comfortable working in an office environment with computers all day long.
- Proficient in using accounting systems like QuickBooks and Microsoft Money and spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel.
- Ability to pay strong attention to detail to ensure accuracy.
- Organizational skills to help them prioritize their roles and responsibilities effectively throughout the day.
- Accounting clerks must work within the law, rules and methods established by the state, province, or company.
- Ability to work alone comfortably on all their routine tasks and in cooperation with other accountants and managers if needed.
Just as a company and organization must find an accountant, an accounting clerk is vital in any company or organization. It’s a profession that requires one to be thorough, professional, and attentive to detail. Accounting clerks must also be ethical and courteous. It’s no easy task to be in charge of a company’s financial data and information. In fact, accounting clerks should further their education through on-site training and seminars to move their careers forward and get better at their job.