An entry-level position in the accounts payable department is a good way to get started in the accounting field. Accounts payable clerks (or administrators) can report to a senior accountant, the director of finance, or the controller within an organization's accounting department. Accounts payable duties can include processing invoices, preparing payments, processing payroll, preparing financial reports and other administrative duties as needed.
In addition to basic computer skills like typing and ten key, hiring organizations usually prefer candidates with experience using accounting software such as Quick Books or Peachtree Accounting, and spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, since these are the programs most often used to accomplish daily duties.
Quick Books and Peachtree Accounting are software programs created specifically to manage small business accounting processes. These programs are designed to make creating databases that track invoices, payments made, payroll and other financial records easier, and have replaced the paper ledgers that were common prior to the late 1980s. Accounts payable clerks must be able to navigate from one account within the program to another, create new payable accounts, add and remove employees from the payroll database, add payments to accounts and process/print checks. Clerks may also be required to pull reports for months, quarters and ends of years.
Spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel are commonly used throughout organizations to share financial information. Although most day-to-day transactions within the accounting department will require use of Quick Books and Peachtree Accounting, the data in those programs is highly confidential and only accessible by the highest members of the organization and members of the accounting department. Other financial information required by departments outside the accounting department is generally shared in Excel spreadsheets. Accounts payable clerks must be comfortable creating and editing new spreadsheets, importing data from the accounting software to the spreadsheet software, formatting spreadsheets, adding and editing formulas on spreadsheets, and working with the data contained in spreadsheets by performing a variety of sorts and searches.
Word Processing Programs
Accounts payable clerks may be required to perform general administrative duties as needed, which will require creating or editing letters and forms in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word. Clerks should be comfortable creating new documents, working with templates and saving documents. They should also be knowledgeable about editing documents, including formatting pages, working with tables, changing pagination, editing line spacing and paragraph styles, and formatting documents for printing.
Accounts payable clerks may be expected to use email and task management programs such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes to communicate with coworkers, organize meetings and track team projects. Companies with telecommuting or global employees may require employees to understand the basics of navigating the Internet and of using digital communication tools such as instant messaging, virtual bulletin boards and virtual meeting rooms.
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