If you secure a position as a lead accountant, you're close to being one of the top members of the accounting staff. You may answer to the CFO, an accounting manager or person with an equivalent position, depending on the structure of the company. Either way, you have valuable skills and knowledge the company requires for complex accounting tasks.
There are few opportunities to attain the position of lead accountant without at least a four-year college bachelor's degree in finance, banking or accounting. In some cases, companies may only hire those with a master's degree. Candidates for positions should also have a certified public accountant license since many companies may require the license.
Most companies require the lead accountant to have four to six years of experience and focus on the area of accounting required for the position, which may be executive compensation, taxes or financial accounts. Often the candidate with a proven track record in a specific area has the greatest opportunities. Many companies require a level of proficiency in various computer programs used for accounting.
Besides proficiency in various software programs, the lead accountant needs skills in organization, goal achievement and management, if he supervises additional staff. He should require little supervision and have excellent communication skills. He must be able to train those under his supervision and provide technical information. A lead accountant should also have excellent problem-solving skills.
Depending on the company, the lead accountant may interpret reports and advise the company of the financial position, tax situation or other area of job focus. The lead accountant may be responsible for all financial reports, managing stock purchase plans, compliance testing for benefit packages or working closely with any outsourcing agency doing financial work for his company. He may head up a problem-solving committee, recommend and implement changes to improve the company or suggest changes in accounting practices.
Salary and Benefits
The salary each lead accountant receives varies by state, company, job description and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics gave no average salary specifically for a lead accountant but simply accountants in general. The top 10 percent of accountants earned $102,380 or more, with the median wages for all types of accountants being $59,430. Since lead accountants normally have more responsibility and are higher on the job ladder than the average, you could expect the salary to be in the upper range. Large companies might offer an executive package in addition to standard company employee benefits.