Updated December 2023
There are plenty of reasons to get an accounting diploma rather than a degree.
A diploma takes less time and money, and it emphasizes practical skills over abstract theory. It’s all about helping you prepare for the real world of work.
But here’s the big question: What career options will you have after graduation?
The truth is that an accounting diploma can qualify you for a number of jobs that come with decent incomes and are expanding rapidly across Canada.
In this post, we explain what’s covered in an accounting diploma program and give details on three of the top career options for new grads: accounting technician, accounts payable/receivable clerk, and payroll administrator.
Find out what to expect in training and explore the post-grad possibilities.
WHAT DOES AN ACCOUNTING DIPLOMA TEACH YOU?
An accounting diploma offers streamlined training that’s designed to help you gain the skills employers want in entry-level hires.
Programs are fairly short. While a degree is a four-year commitment, you can earn an accounting diploma in less than 12 months.
Coursework typically includes training in:
- Standard accounting principles and procedures
- Microsoft Office applications (especially working with formulas and functions in Excel)
- Common accounting software packages like QuickBooks and Sage
- Payroll processing and compliance
- Business math
Once you complete your diploma, you’ll be well prepared for in-demand accounting jobs like the ones listed below.
ACCOUNTING CAREER #1: ACCOUNTING TECHNICIAN
This is a common entry-level role for new graduates.
Accounting technicians work under the direction of more experienced accounting personnel. They have a wide range of tasks related to payroll and bookkeeping.
If you take on this role, you’ll likely do a little bit of everything. Accounting technicians are commonly responsible for:
- Maintaining the general ledger
- Preparing account summaries and reconciliations
- Calculating and processing payroll
- Filling out and submitting tax remittance forms
- Completing personal or corporate tax returns
- Issuing invoices and processing payments
- Preparing financial statements and reports
Data from the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) shows that job postings for accounting technicians across Canada were up 16 per cent in 2023 compared to a year earlier.
And the Government of Canada Job Bank estimates that employment prospects for accounting technicians will be good or very good for most of the country over the next few years, with the strongest outlooks in Ontario, Quebec, Yukon, and Nunavut.
According to the Job Bank, accounting technicians earn a median salary of about $52,000. The highest-paid technicians in Canada make more than $85,000.
ACCOUNTING CAREER #2: ACCOUNTS PAYABLE/RECEIVABLE CLERK
Accounts payable clerks focus on the money a company owes to its vendors or suppliers. Accounts receivable clerks deal with the money owed to a company by its customers.
Some organizations have separate teams for these two functions. Smaller companies often combine them into a single role.
Typical tasks for an accounts payable clerk include:
- Verifying purchase orders, invoices, and statements
- Reconciling corporate credit cards to expense reports
- Creating and maintaining vendor files
- Processing vendor invoices and scheduling payments
- Controlling and disbursing petty cash
An accounts receivable clerk handles tasks like:
- Preparing and sending out invoices
- Reconciling sales and inventory reports
- Reaching out to customers regarding overdue invoices
- Applying payments to customer accounts
- Preparing bank deposits and posting cheques
Demand for accounts payable/receivable clerks should remain steady over the coming years. The Job Bank says the employment outlook should be moderate to good throughout the country.
In Canada, accounts payable/receivable clerks make about $49,000 as a median salary, according to Job Bank data. At the top end, salaries can exceed $72,000.
ACCOUNTING CAREER #3: PAYROLL ADMINISTRATOR
Payroll administrators are responsible for making sure employees get paid the correct amount at the correct time.
They collect and verify data to figure out what each employee is entitled to in terms of wages and benefits. They also ensure the company follows payroll regulations.
Common tasks for payroll administrators include:
- Gathering and maintaining employee information
- Verifying each employee’s attendance and hours worked
- Calculating earnings (including vacation pay, bonuses, and commissions) and deductions (including taxes, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and Employment Insurance premiums)
- Processing new hires and terminations
- Preparing statements of earnings, tax slips, and Records of Employment
- Answering questions from employees and managers
Looking ahead, the Job Bank forecasts a good employment outlook for payroll administrators in many regions, including Manitoba, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces.
The Job Bank says payroll administrators earn about $59,000 as a national median salary. The top earners can make over $79,000.
THINK AN ACCOUNTING DIPLOMA IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Take a look at the accelerated accounting and payroll training offered by Herzing College. It takes less than a year to complete.
Students get comprehensive training in accounting and payroll software, procedures, and regulations. They also get real work experience through an included internship.
Click below to learn more about the program and chat live with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help!