If you are willing to crunch numbers and get paid for it, but you haven’t embarked on a four-year college track yet, you may find yourself asking what sort of degree might fit your needs in terms of helping you get your career launched as quickly as possible. An associate’s degree program in accounting may seem promising; however you might be uncertain regarding what jobs will be available to you once you’ve earned that diploma. Fortunately, positions for bookkeepers and accounting clerks can offer a worthwhile starting salary and are projected to experience decent future growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One caveat is that holders of associate degrees are likely to be hired at a significantly lower pay grade than those with baccalaureate degrees, but they may be considered at a higher priority than applicants with high school diplomas. Furthermore, work offered at this level can nurture skills that encourage upward mobility and make a potentially profitable continuing education easier to juggle with work hours.
Bookkeepers typically perform general financial administration for small businesses that are either unable to or have no need to hire full-time accountants to manage their funds. The duties that bookkeepers take can be high in volume and demanding, as their correct handling of work is essential to their companies’ ability to keep finances organized. Bookkeepers balance accounts payable and accounts receivable, monitor outstanding accounts and update the general ledger to follow all debits and credits. They also often handle payroll management to ensure that all employees are being correctly remunerated for their time. Another key component of bookkeepers’ work is the gathering of receipts and information from cashiers to ready regular bank deposits. The work is increasingly computerized, and you may be expected to possess a mastery of multiple forms of accounting and finance software, skills that classes in a quality associate’s program may provide. Some businesses may hire the occasional services of accountants to ensure that their bookkeepers’ records are accurate.
Generally speaking, accounting clerks find work in larger companies whose accountants require the services of teams of full-time assistants. Accounting clerks meet these needs daily by performing within more narrowly defined operational capacities such as either accounts payable or receivable, payroll or inventory. They can compare and verify that invoices match receipt tickets, calculate interest, tabulate details of various transactions, and track balances and payments. The degree of responsibility afforded to an accounting clerk can vary with the clerk’s experience level, but their duties are generally routine in nature. As with the tasks that bookkeepers perform, the work of accounting clerks is increasingly contained on computers as technology advances, and hiring managers may view a candidate with demonstrable and varied financial and accounting software experience far more favorably that those who are without it.
Related Resource: Typical Day as a Corporate Accountant
An AAS in Accounting Can Open Doors
Bookkeepers and accounting clerks received a median salary of $35,730 across the nation as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a demand that grows with the needs of businesses, you may find that holding an associate’s degree in the field of accounting will help you secure a comfortable salary while you gain valuable experience that you can apply towards education to eventually obtain a more prominent and lucrative position if desired.