When you work in an administrative support role like bookkeeping or accounting clerk, you might wonder how you advance from a bookkeeping clerk to an accountant. Making this transition requires a good deal of effort and an investment in your education, but it can also be a very rewarding career change. You could increase your salary and enjoy a career path that makes better use of your strategic business skills – and all it takes is the right education.
The Role of a Bookkeeping Clerk
Like accountants, accounting and bookkeeping clerks manage financial information. They organize and keep track of receipts, invoices and transactions. Bookkeepers may even run financial reports and review statements for accuracy.
However, accounting clerks handle financial documents from an administrative support side rather than a business and finance perspective. Their primary responsibilities fall more into the category of keeping financial information organized and up-to-date than strategically evaluating financial strategies. It’s only when you advance from a bookkeeping clerk to an accountant that you have the chance to put your business acumen to work increasing the profitability of a business.
An Accounting Education
The most direct way you advance from a bookkeeping clerk to an accountant is by earning your bachelor’s in accounting degree. While accounting and bookkeeping clerks often have some postsecondary education, they typically don’t have a bachelor’s degree – and that’s precisely what prevents them from moving up into an accounting position.
An accounting degree is more than a piece of paper. Completing a four-year college education can equip you with the skills you need to do more than keep track of transactions. If you complete a fifth year of school – while earning a master’s in accounting degree, for example – you can even prepare to attain the sought-after certified public accountant (CPA) designation.
Another way to improve your job prospects even before you begin pursuing your degree is to seek certification as a bookkeeper. Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers offer such certification to accounting clerks who have sufficient experience, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
The Benefits of Becoming a Full-Fledged Accountant
There are plenty of reasons for you to advance from a bookkeeping clerk to an accountant role. Perhaps you want to earn more money. Accountants earn a median wage of $67,190, substantially more than the median salary of $37,250 for accounting and bookkeeping clerks, the BLS reported.
You might also be drawn to a career that allows you to think strategically and analyze financial data to improve a company’s financial health, rather than merely documenting it. As an accountant, you’ll have the opportunity cultivate and use your business savvy and finance knowledge.
With the right education, you can advance from a bookkeeping clerk to an accountant and improve not just your earning potential, but your career satisfaction.