How to Become an Accounts Officer (With Development Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 January 2023

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're an organised person interested in finance, you may enjoy becoming an accounts officer. Becoming an accounts officer is a relatively easy process you commence after leaving high school. Getting the required experience or education can help you secure an accounts officer job in any industry. In this article, we explain what accounts officers are, discuss how they secure and advance in their roles, list their common duties, skills and salaries and describe how to advance in this role.

What is an accounts officer?

An accounts officer is an administrative professional who coordinates a business's income and expense activities. Small and medium businesses usually employ accounts officers. These professionals perform the duties of accounts payable and accounts receivable officers employed by larger businesses.

How to become an accounts officer

Understanding how to become an accounts officer can help you move efficiently towards your career goals. While qualifications are optional for accounts officers, some employers strongly prefer hiring people who've studied accounts administration or accounting. Here's a common path for becoming an accounts officer:

1. Complete high school to year 10

As qualifications are optional for accounts officers, you may leave high school after completing year 10. This level of education qualifies you for vocational study. You could also start your job search after completing year 10. Studying business studies or commerce at high school can teach you fundamental business concepts. Understanding these concepts early may help you transition to vocational study or the workforce.

Some aspiring accounts officers prefer to complete year 12 and get their secondary school certificate. Senior study may help you distinguish yourself from other job candidates. Studying business studies in senior school can deepen your understanding of business concepts.

2. Get a relevant vocational certificate

Enrol in a relevant vocational certificate through TAFE or a registered training organisation (RTO). The most popular options for accounts officers are the Certificate III in Accounts Administration and Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping. The Certificate III in Accounts Administration teaches the key tasks for accounts officers, such as:

  • Managing accounts and ledgers

  • Performing financial calculations

  • Designing and preparing business documents

  • Maintaining business spreadsheets

  • Using popular business software and tools

The Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping teaches a wider range of skills, including how to perform more complex tasks. You may consider this certificate if you plan to pursue a Diploma of Accounting or advance to a senior role in future. Here are some of the tasks the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping teaches:

  • Preparing financial statements and reports

  • Processing financial transactions

  • Maintaining payroll systems

  • Using popular payroll and accounting software

  • Creating and filing Business Activity Statements (BAS)

Related:

  • How to Get a Bookkeeper Certification (With Benefits)

  • Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

3. Apply for accounts officer jobs

After completing your preferred course of study, you can start applying for accounts officer roles. Look for junior accounts officer roles as these are entry-level jobs. You may also qualify for a general accounts officer job, especially if you have a Certificate IV qualification. Highlight the experience you gained during your study and any relevant work experience on your accounts officer job application. For example, you could mention overseeing the accounts for a family business or a fundraising project.

Related: Writing a Resume with No Experience

Accounts officer job description

The tasks performed by accounts officers depend on their employer and the size of the business. Here are some of the common duties you may see listed in an accounts officer job description:

  • Issuing invoices to debtors

  • Processing and recording invoices and payments

  • Bookkeeping, including recording transactions and balancing books

  • Approving employee expenses

  • Reconciling business invoices and bank statements

  • Managing petty cash

  • Answering accounts questions from employees, customers and vendors

  • Following up on late debtor payments

  • Creating monthly profit and loss reports

  • Supporting administrative and finance employees as required

Important skills for accounts officers

Focusing on improving vital skills can help you secure an accounts officer job and succeed in this role. Here are some of the most important skills used in accounts officer jobs:

Self-management

Accounts officers often work independently. Having good self-management skills can help you stay motivated and work productively on your own. Motivated accounts officers are often focused employees who complete tasks accurately. Accurate working is very important for accounts officers, as a single mistyped digit could impact financial records.

Related: Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Organisation

Accounts officers manage accounts payable and receivable. Strong organisation can help you manage both types of accounts efficiently. Your organisational skills can also help you keep track of invoices so you can follow up on late payments swiftly and improve the business's cash flow. Being organised can also help you retrieve information quickly to answer questions from customers, vendors and other employees. You may use software to improve your organisation skills.

Time management

Accounts officers work to deadlines, so good time management skills are vital. Managing your time can help you pay invoices and create financial reports on time. Managing your own time is important as other people rely on you. For example, paying the business's invoices on time ensures the business avoids late payment penalties. Delivering financial reports on time helps the executive team work with those reports on schedule. Time management apps may help you manage your time more effectively.

Related: 8 Time Management Interview Questions With Example Answers

Adaptability

The best accounts officers are usually flexible people who can adapt to changing circumstances. They can accept new business processes, systems and software and adjust their methods in line with the changes. If finance and administrative employees require assistance, they can reprioritise their tasks to provide support.

Verbal and written communication

Accounts officers use their strong communication skills to interact with business employees, vendors and customers. They can adjust their communication style to suit the people they're talking to and their understanding of accounts. They understand what information is the most relevant to their audience and share it to make their message clear. Accounts officers feel confident speaking to other people and sharing information through written reports.

Computer literacy

Accounts officers use computer software for invoicing, reporting, financial management and communication. Good computer literacy can help you use a variety of programs efficiently. When faced with new programs or program features, your computer literacy can help you quickly adapt. Successful accounts officers often feel confident using office applications, especially spreadsheets and email clients and accounting software.

Average salary for accounts officers

The national average salary for an accounts officer is $62,281 per year. More experienced accounts officers typically earn more than junior or entry-level accounts officers. An accounts officer's qualifications, location, employer and industry may also impact their salary.

How to advance as an accounts officer

Motivated accounts officers may advance to other more specialised jobs in time. Some accounts officers move to larger firms and specialise in accounts payable or accounts receivable. Other accounts officers become payroll officers and accountants. Here are some of the steps that can help you advance in your career:

1. Earn a relevant diploma

If you want to become an accountant or payroll officer, completing a relevant diploma can help you achieve your goal. The Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping is a prerequisite for the Diploma of Accounting. This diploma builds on your accounting knowledge and teaches you more advanced skills, such as complex budget management, financial forecasting and tax preparation. It's a great option for accounts officers interested in becoming accountants or securing a job at a large company with complex accounts.

The Diploma of Payroll Services can expand your understanding of business payrolls and prepare you for a payroll officer job. Anyone can study this course, as there are no prerequisites. The payroll tasks you complete as an accounts officer may help you understand the coursework. This diploma teaches payroll basics and advanced topics such as computerised payroll systems and relevant industrial and tax regulations.

Related: How to Become a Payroll Officer (With Salary and Skills)

2. Complete a software course

A software course can deepen your understanding of the programs you use regularly. It can also help prove your skills to another employer. For example, you may complete a course in MYOB Bookkeeping or Xero Accounting and Payroll. These courses are usually short and delivered online, so you can create a study schedule around your job commitments.

3. Volunteer for new job opportunities

Employers often consider people who show enthusiasm for workplace opportunities first for job advancement. Sign up for any available training and volunteer for new tasks and responsibilities. These opportunities can give you new skills that may enhance your resume and help you succeed in an advanced role. Showing you're confident trying new things teaches people you may excel in a more challenging role.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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