Whether in times of prosperity or recession, the monitoring of cash flow, credit and debt is crucial to the functioning of businesses. Accountants are the professional personnel that oversee a company’s fiscal movements. They may occupy different levels of seniority within an organization. Junior accountants work as support staff to senior accountants.
Senior accountants are responsible for reporting the costs, productivity, margins and expenditures that occur within an organization. They ensure that all financial transactions are conducted and recorded in accordance with prescribed policies and procedures and that they are supplied to senior management by due deadlines. Typically, they provide monthly, quarterly and annual reports. They will coordinate auditing processes, resolve accounting discrepancies and oversee a company’s taxation issues. A senior accountant will lead a team of junior accountants.
Junior accountants provide administrative support to senior accountants. They perform auxiliary tasks that help the senior accountant execute his role. Such responsibilities may include general ledger operations, compiling balance sheets, gathering data for monthly reports, double-checking calculations and updating journal entries, assisting with tax computations and accounts both receivable and payable.
Typically, candidates are employed by companies in junior accountancy roles and then learn the specific accountancy procedures used by that company—usually by working under the guidance and management of a senior accountant. Then, as positions become vacant, and depending upon their performance, they may move up into senior roles.
Most accountants, whether senior or junior, have a bachelor’s degree. This is likely to be in accounting or a related field, such as business administration. Individuals may also wish to attain a Master’s degree. This may help them progress to senior positions more rapidly.
For senior and junior accountants alike, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job market in accounting will grow by around 22 percent over the decade from 2008 to 2018. This exceeds the growth rate predicted for the country as a whole, put at between 7 and 13 percent over the same time, and will be fueled by rising numbers of businesses and changes in financial regulations.