What Does an Accounting Assistant Actually Do? Inside Look at the Role

Accounting assistants are administrative professionals who focus on the numbers.

They play a crucial supporting role in accounting departments by recording financial transactions, preparing reports, and carrying out related clerical tasks.

Basically, they keep a company's day-to-day bookkeeping functions running smoothly.

All kinds of organizations need that kind of help. In fact, Accounts Payable and Receivable Clerk ranked fifth on Randstad's list of the most in-demand administrative jobs in Canada in 2021.

Considering becoming an accounting assistant? Looking for more details about what you would actually do at work?

Keep reading for an inside look at accounting assistant responsibilities and skills.

See if the role is a good fit for your career goals, interests, and strengths.

 

WHAT EXACTLY DO ACCOUNTING ASSISTANTS DO?

Accounting assistants handle basic bookkeeping and payroll duties. Their job is to keep track of the money flowing in and out of a company.

The accounting assistant job description can vary from company to company. But typically, you would be responsible for tasks like:

☑️ Updating the general ledger

☑️ Posting deposits

☑️ Processing receipts, invoices, purchase orders, expense reports, and payments

☑️ Balancing accounts and resolving discrepancies

☑️ Setting up new employees in the payroll system

☑️ Calculating and processing payroll cheques or direct deposits

☑️ Preparing tax remittance forms

☑️ Reconciling bank statements

☑️ Creating financial reports for management

☑️ Communicating with vendors and customers

 

WHAT'S A TYPICAL DAY FOR AN ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT?

An accounting assistant's daily routine can vary depending on the type of business or organization they work for. So you won't find one description that fits every single role.

But we can give you an idea of how a typical workday might go:

 

☑️ You start by reviewing a statement of account you received from a vendor. Looking over the list of transactions, you see your employer still owes the vendor some money. You need to follow up with the department manager to see if those invoices were paid, approved, or even received.

 

☑️ Next, you update the billing address for a client who is moving to a new office. You also send an email to everyone in your company who works with that client to let them know of the change.

 

☑️ Three new employees started last week, so you need to get them set up in the payroll system. You enter the information from the forms they filled out and double-check the banking details from the voided cheques they gave you.

 

☑️ Now it's time for bank reconciliation. You go through and compare the bank statement with the cash balances in the company account.

 

Most accounting assistants follow a standard 9-to-5 schedule. But during busy times like year-end or tax season, you may have to put in longer hours.

 

WHAT SPECIFIC SKILLS DO ACCOUNTING ASSISTANTS NEED?

To be successful as an accounting assistant, you must have certain skills. These are some of the technical skills and personal traits you'll need to get hired:

☑️ Software

You need to be proficient with standard office software like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access.

You should also know your way around an accounting program like Sage 50, QuickBooks, or FreshBooks.

If you pursue an accounting and payroll diploma, you will get lots of hands-on practice with these types of software packages.

Michelle Riedner had never even used a computer before taking the accounting and payroll program at Herzing College. Now, she has an accounting role at a local business.

"I had to learn everything from scratch: how to log onto the computer, how to access different files, and how to work a mouse and a keyboard.

Now, I work daily in QuickBooks and SharePoint. I post bills, invoice service orders and jobs, enter in time sheets for our employees, and do filing and mailing. I love this job."

 

☑️ Organization and time management

Accounting departments can be very busy places, especially at tax time.

You will have to keep track of receipts, invoices, expense reports, and all the other documents that come across your desk. And you must stick to a schedule so that everything gets processed on time.

You need to work efficiently, prioritize your tasks, and meet deadlines.

 

☑️ Attention to detail

When you're dealing with money, every single digit matters.

Accounting assistant and Herzing graduate Cris Quejada says it's critical to get the details right.

"Accuracy is the most important skill. If you want to be successful in accounting, you must always check your work thoroughly, and ensure it is accurate. This work takes attention to detail and a lot of focus."

 

HOW MUCH DO ACCOUNTING ASSISTANTS IN TORONTO MAKE?

You can earn a decent income as an accounting assistant in Ontario

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, accounting clerks in the Toronto area have a median salary of about $43,700.

The highest-paid accounting clerks in the city make more than $72,000.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT BECOMING AN ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT

If you're interested in becoming an accounting assistant, your next step is to take accounting and payroll training. This is a fairly quick program you can finish in under one year.

Have a look at the Accounting and Payroll Administration program at Herzing College Toronto.

It's just 9 months long and includes a guaranteed 5-week internship at a local company.

Training covers the software, bookkeeping, and payroll processing skills employers want in new hires.

Our graduates work for wide variety of organizations, including Revenue Canada, Minto Group, Carefor Health and Community Services, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Click below to see complete program details and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!

Learn More about the Accounting & Payroll Program