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Accounting Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or a related field
Average Salary: $58,467 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

Before, accounting managers used to merely oversee all financial transactions and take charge of financial reporting. However, the increasing complexity of transactions over the years has required accounting managers to embrace a more complicated role. They are now involved in leading, communicating, and planning.

An accounting manager typically oversees a team of accountants. As their leader, part of the accounting manager’s responsibility is to hone the skills of his/her staff members and improve their motivation for better performance on the job. As such, an accounting manager is expected to exhibit excellent leadership skills to steer the team towards positive development. Part of his/her job is to conduct performance evaluations, do mentoring and training on technical skills, and provide guidance based on the directives and strategies given by management.

The maintenance and implementation of different accounting systems are also included in an accounting manager’s duties. Part of this job is to ensure that all systems comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) policies and with audit standards. Systems that he/she handles may encompass general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash flows, and revenue reconciliation, among others.

Forecasting and preparing the yearly budget are also included in an accounting manager’s responsibilities. The reports expected from him/her are monthly forecasts, annual budget, and profit and loss statements. He/she sees to it that the forecasts and budget are in line with management’s objectives. In relation to this, an accounting manager conducts regular meetings with the different departments to ensure that they’re performing within their targets and to determine areas for improvement. With this information on hand, an accounting manager prepares periodic closing and management reports that help the executive team with their strategic planning.

Finally, an accounting manager is responsible in preparing the company’s financial statements. Part of this role is auditing the accounting data of the different departments of the organization. In order to come up with financial reports that are accurate, all accounting figures must be double-checked for errors. In addition, an accounting manager must see to it that all reporting is transparent and follows the highest ethical standards.

Education and Training Requirements

An accounting manager position requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or other related fields at the very least. This usually takes a minimum of four years of study, including 24 semester units in accounting courses. While most universities offer a general accounting degree, some have introduced more specialized training such as an internal auditing program to prep students for the growing number of focused accounting professions.

Apart from accounting and other business-related subjects, accounting manager aspirants would find statistics and mathematics beneficial to their future careers. If ever they succeed in getting hired as accounting managers, they will deal with figure analysis, calculations, and report-making on the job.

Some employers are searching for candidates with a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting. However, some graduates with an associate degree and some accounting assistants and clerks can move up the career ladder and into more advanced accounting positions by enhancing their technical skills with further education.

Apart from a master’s degree, some employers prefer applicants that are certified in specific fields of accounting. There are many national organizations offering certification. What they require are a bachelor’s degree, at least two years of work experience as an accountant, and passing exam results.

Accounting managers who are tasked to file reports with the SEC must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In most states, the requirements for one to be a CPA are a bachelor’s degree plus additional graduate hours in accounting and business. A lot of universities are offering a five-year program to meet CPA requirements.

Getting the Job

There are certain requirements for getting hired as an accounting manager. As mentioned previously, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement, while a certification is always a plus. A certification is one way of proving that you possess the technical skills needed for the job.

In most openings, a three to five-year work experience in accounting is compulsory because employers are looking for accounting managers with solid accounting experience. Furthermore, interviewers will look for applicants with communication and interpersonal skills, plus those with a knack for problem solving and analysis since the job involves a lot of coordinating with different people, auditing, and planning. Finally, an in-depth knowledge of accounting systems is required.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for accounting managers are favorable. In fact, the employment for auditors and accountants is projected to increase by 22% from 2008 to 2018. This rate is much higher than the average for other professions. What will push job growth are the consequences of financial-related events in the world, changes in rules in corporate governance and monetary laws, and an increased focus on companies’ accountability to protect their stakeholders.

The most concrete example is the 2008 financial crisis. Because of this, the accounting procedures and financial data of companies are being scrutinized more frequently. The need for greater transparency and more controls in reporting open more opportunities for accountants. Also, as the US recovers from the crisis, its economy is starting to pick up again, which further boosts the need for accounting managers who will handle a growing number of complex transactions.

Some accounting managers landed their position through years of experience. They might have begun their career as accounting clerks, junior internal auditors, and assistant cost accountants. However, most have found that having a professional certification provides an advantage in terms of career advancement. In fact, they will most probably have the best outlook compared to their peers without any certification. This is because certification attests to one’s professional competence in a specific field of accounting.

There are a lot of career paths than an accounting manager can take. Those who excel in their field can move up to executive positions in accounting or internal auditing in private corporations, public accounting firms, and government agencies. They become budget directors, treasurers, controllers, or even chief financial officers. Some may also establish their own accounting firm. There is considerable occupational mobility for accounting managers.

Working Conditions and Environment

The majority of accounting managers do their work in an office environment. However, some may be required to go on business trips when they need to do audits and performance checks in other branches.

Most accounting managers are required to render a minimum of 40 hours of work per week. However, more than half find that they must do overtime work on weekdays and sometimes on weekends, especially during an audit period, the end of a fiscal period, or tax season.

Accounting managers are required to analyze financial data and make their budget and planning recommendations based on their findings. They don’t simply do basic arithmetical computations. So aside from being physically tiring, their work can get stressful as the workload mounts up.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary of accounting managers is $58,467, with the range being $39,592 to $87,377 per year. With bonus and profit-sharing, the total income that they earn is between $37,569 and $90,892.

The compensation of accounting managers increases with years of experience on the job. Those with less than a year of experience earn from $25,912 to $69,810, while those with a considerable 20 years or more of experience can make anywhere between $41,462 and $88,048 per year.

An accounting manager’s pay can also vary based on industry. For instance, it has been found that those working in public accounting firms earn the highest. Their salary range is from $48,320 to $100,566 annually. The next highest-paying industry is software development, which pays between $44,105 and $91,701.

In terms of employee benefits, accounting managers receive the standard benefits such as retirement pay, health insurance, life insurance, and dental benefits. They are also entitled to sick leaves and paid vacation leaves. The more experienced and senior accounting managers have access to more perks such as an expense account and a company car.

Where to Go for More Information

American Institute of CPAs
220 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC 27707-8110
(919) 402-4500

Association of Chartered Accountants in the United States
1050 Winter St., Ste. 1000
Waltham, MA 02451
(508) 395-0224

National Society of Accountants
1010 Fairfax St.
Alexandria, VA 22308
(703) 549-6400

Additional topics

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