Junior staff accountants apply the principles, theories and concepts of accounting to their projects. A junior staff accountant generally has one to two years of general accounting experience, and works under the supervision of the company or firm’s more senior accountants. The ability to quickly learn standard accounting programs and reporting tools is a key job requirement.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job prospects for accountants in general to be favorable through 2018. Those with professional certification and master’s degrees are projected to be the most in demand. For junior staff accountant positions, earning high grades and pursuing internships while still in school may increase your job prospects. Opportunities are available in private accountancy and consulting firms, government agencies, large corporations and mid-size businesses.
As a junior staff accountant, your day is varied. You can expect to perform a range of accounting tasks – from examining financial statements for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with uniform accounting classifications; reconciling reports and financial data; to preparing relatively simple financial statements; and preparing charts and tables to include in reports.
Despite the stereotype of the lone accountant toiling under his green eyeshade, accounting is actually a very team-oriented profession. As the junior member of a team responsible for auditing an important client project or preparing financial statements, you’ll be able to learn the accounting ropes from other knowledgeable, experienced accountants.
But don’t expect to be leading the team right away. Typically, work for young staffers remains somewhat administrative. Partners and senior managers will handle the direct client and prospective client contact.
As a junior staff accountant, you can expect a typical 40-hour work week. However, if you work at a large firm, you may have longer working hours. And, if you focus on taxes, you’re likely to have an especially heavy workload during tax season. While most of your time will be spent in the office, as you progress in your career, you may travel to conduct client audits.
According to the BLS, accountants earned a median annual wage of $60,340 as of May 2009, with the middle 50% earning $46,740 to $79,470 and the lowest 10% earning around $37,690. Junior staff accountant salaries tend to start at the lower end of the income scale, and increase with accounting experience. Senior accounts make up the top 10% of earners, with salaries in excess of $100,000. Most junior staff accountant positions offer benefits including health, dental and life insurance, as well as 401(k) and paid leave.
Those looking to enter the junior staff accountant field need a strong academic background. The first step can be an associate’s degree in accounting.
A typical accounting education program gives students the skills and knowledge to:
After receiving an AA in Accounting degree, you’ll want to continue your education with a bachelor’s in accounting and further explore key areas such as finance and economics. Additional certifications and graduate degrees, such as a CPA certification or a master’s in accounting, can significantly improve your job prospects.
Junior staff accountant work is interesting, with a schedule that is mostly predictable but sometimes extremely busy. Future earnings potential is high. If you enjoy working with numbers and statistics, analyzing data and creating reports, then this may be the career for you!