The senior accountant job description will detail a diverse set of activities. The responsibilities vary depending on the employment setting, size of organization and focus or specialization. One may assume, however, that the individual has at least two to three years of accounting experience at the staff level and that he or she presently has supervisory responsibilities at the senior level.
In general, a senior accountant has completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. For those who pursue certified public accountant, CPA, licensure, the individual must have completed a 150-credit bachelor’s degree prior to sitting for the certified public accountant examination. According to the prestigious American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, AICPA, this requirement is becoming the norm among state boards of accountancy. Most states require two years of financial audit experience as well. The CPA license is issued by a state and grants an individual the right to offer accounting services to the public within that state. In order to maintain an active license, certified public accountants must complete a specified number of continuing professional education credits during a two-year period.
The certified management accountant, or CMA, designation is another well-respected credential. This designation is geared toward those accountants and financial professionals who work in business and industry. The Institute of Management Accountants, an international professional organization, administers the certification examination that tests the applicantâs knowledge of financial planning, forecasting and budgeting as well as financial statement analysis and risk management. Individuals must complete a bachelor’s degree, pass the examination and complete two years of continuous experience in management or financial accounting. Refer to the CMA Handbook for specific experience requirements.
In response to the globalization of business, there is yet another well-respected designation entering the scene in recent years. The chartered global management accountant, CGMA, credential is administered jointly by the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, CIMA. This designation is globally recognized as it shows that the holder has achieved a broad level of knowledge with respect to international business practices and strategic management. The AICPA and CIMA specify different paths toward achieving the designation that vary depending on membership and whether an individual already holds a credential issued by one or both of these organizations. Generally, there is a three-year experience requirement. The educational requirement is a master’s degree or a 150-credit bachelor’s degree.
Senior accountants may work for a public accounting firm, corporation or governmental entity. The size of the organization can range from a sole-proprietor accounting or business firm to an international corporation. Salaries vary considerably depending on the location and size of the operation.
According to the 2013 Salary Guide published by Robert Half International, a pre-eminent, international financial staffing firm, the salary range for a senior accounting professional working in the United States for a large corporation is $68,750 to $93,250. This range applies to various senior-level positions and will differ depending on location. For a senior accountant working in a large public accounting firm, the range for 2013 is $73,000 to $98,000. This salary range encompasses those working in financial audit and tax services.
Accountant Job Description
The job description for senior-level management accountants may detail duties that include financial and risk analysis, performance management, financial statement analysis, cost accounting, budgeting and corporate finance functions. The description will be more specific as it relates to the company. The job description for senior accountants in public accounting will discuss the preparation of audited, compiled or reviewed financial statements as well as corporate, individual and partnership income tax returns.
Senior accountants stay current on the accounting standards applicable to their area of specialization. These standards include frequently changing tax laws, generally accepted accounting principles, GAAP, and generally accepted auditing standards, GAAS. Senior accountants also will be comfortable with software products that are applicable to their particular area of expertise.