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Senior Accountant

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in accounting; State licensure may be required
Average Salary: $43,929-$76,885 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

A senior accountant oversees, analyzes, and communicates the financial information of an organization, company, private firm, or state and local government agency. Senior accountants often report directly to the accounting manager to ensure that all deliverables comply with State laws and professional standards. Senior accountants perform routine accounting operations such as bank reconciliations, month-end assignments, management reports/schedules, and quarterly filings.

Specific job duties of a senior accountant may vary depending on the industry or accounting field. Senior accountants may be found in such fields as public accounting, internal accounting, government or state accounting, and management accounting. The senior accountant prepares and delivers financial statements based on journal entries and reconciliations over a specified length of time. Management for organizations depends on the senior accountant for an accurate financial picture of the overall business.

Education and Training Requirements

Most senior accounting careers require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field from an accredited college or university. A master’s degree in accounting may be required for some employers. In college, many senior accountants major in general accounting, business administration, finance, or a related field of study. The general accounting major serves as a superb training curriculum for the field while offering courses in payroll accounting, forensic accounting, internal accounting, governmental accounting, and non-profit accounting. College accounting courses prepare students for a career as a senior accountant.

Getting the Job

Accounting is a specialized field that requires formal post-secondary education. Senior accountants must have two to three years of experience before stepping into the role at the senior level. Most senior accountants work as a junior accountant or general accountant for a few years before moving up. It is recommended that students participate in collegiate internships to gain experience and create a network of contacts within the accounting field.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for senior accountants is very good according to the most current data released by the United States Department of Labor. Job growth is expected to be favorable over the next decade as senior level accountants retire and the job market expands.

Many entry level accountants will take on roles as junior accountants under the tutelage of a senior accountant nearing retirement. After learning the ropes for two to three years, the junior accountant will move into the role of the senior accountant. Senior accountants either stay at the level of employment until retirement or seek an administrative position as an accounting manager. Senior accountants may also take lateral positions with other higher paying firms and organizations.

Working Conditions and Environment

A typical office setting is standard for a career as senior accountant. Those who are self-employed may work partially from home and partially from the office. Approximately 50% of all senior accountants work a typical 40-hour work week with longer hours during such times as month-end, quarterly-end, year-end or tax seasons. Working nights and weekends is not typical of the senior accountant but if the need arises, they are have been known to do so.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for most senior accountants ranges from $43,929-$76,885 per year. Wages may vary depending on what field of accounting the individual is employed. Experienced senior accountants can earn well over six figures.

Excellent health and retirement benefits are available for this profession. Senior accountants receive paid vacation and sick time. For those who launch their own accounting firm, benefits may not be available, but those who work for an agency or organization typically receive standard benefits. Standard benefits include medical insurance, life insurance, retirement plans such as a 401(k) plan, and paid annual leave.

Where to Go for More Information

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10035

Institute of Management Accountants
10 Paragon Dr.
Montvale, NJ 07645-1718

The Institute of Internal Auditors
247 Maitland Ave.
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701-4201

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAccounting & Finance