Whether you are searching for your next staff accounting job, information on the role of a top performing staff accountant, or just browsing for salaries, we've gathered everything you need in one easy place.
Staff Accountants are the backbone of any finance and accounting org. The best ones are good with numbers, pay close attention to details, and are familiar with GAAP accounting and numerous ERP systems. While staff accountants generally report to the Controller, VP of Finance, or CFO, they are set up for strong upside in their careers.
Staff accountants make an impact by:
● Creating accurate financial statements - Including income statements, Balance Sheets, and Statement of Cash Flows
● Owning the monthly close process which means preparing journal entries, and reconciling various accounts
● Assisting in external audits of financial statements with third party accounting firms
● Driving insights by researching and interpreting trends in financial data
● Developing the annual budget process and any interim forecasting changes
● Supporting business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
What Hiring Managers Look For In Staff Accountants:
● BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or similar
● 2+ years of professional experience in accounting
● Advanced Excel (V-Lookup and Pivot Tables)
● High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and flexibility to accommodate deadlines
● Excellent communications skills
● Team player
● Enterprise-level software planning systems
● Big 4 accounting experience is nice to have
Are you ready to become a world-class staff accountant? Let Companies Apply to You:
Vested is the first finance and accounting hiring marketplace that brings the jobs to you! Check out our unique platform in the short video below.
Vested is the first finance and accounting hiring marketplace that brings the jobs to you!
Staff Accountant Details
Now that you've signed up, let us walk you through the nitty-gritty of getting a staff accountant job.
Let’s be honest, every staff accounting job description sounds the same. How many times have you clicked into on a job posting and seen the following:
We’re looking for a passionate and driven Staff Accountant to join our team…
So far so good, let’s read on:
Staff Accountant Job Description:
1) Prepares asset, liability, and capital account entries by compiling and analyzing account information
2) Perform reconciliations of cash accounts, coordination and completion of annual audits, and reviewing financial reports/support as necessary
Completely uninspiring! We’ve read through thousands of job postings that sound just like this!
As a team of finance and accounting pros (mission statement link), we know how important staff accountants are to any org.
More importantly, as a professional, it’s such a great place to build the foundation of your career and puts you on track to become a strategic leader [link to io/cfo] at a company.
We’ve literally researched thousands of accounting job descriptions and interviewed hundreds of staff accountants and created the definitive staff accountant job description for you.
Signup here if you are ready to take on the challenge or read on:
Most job descriptions sound like the above because of one of two things: ii) the person who wrote it literally has zero marketing skills at all, or ii) they have no idea what staff accountants actually do.
Let us break it down for you and examine what what separates highly successful staff accountants from the rest.
Before we dive in, think about this for a moment: you are a staff
accountant at the company of your dreams.
Now imagine the CEO calls you in and asks you what you do on a daily
There's just one catch: You only get 30 seconds of his time.
What are you going to lead with? “I prepare journal entries, maintain and reconcile general ledger accounts” and so on?
No, of course not! Which is why it is so puzzling that people describe the accountant role this way.
The best staff accountants think differently! If you had 30 seconds, you would frame your staff accounting role like a top performer would:
I generate financial statements that accurately measure and track the impact of our business initiatives.
I also handle end-to-end implementation of the company’s financial infrastructure and accounting policy.
I’m also responsible for creating meaningful explanations for
fluctuations in financials that result in important strategic decisions.
Now with that in mind, let’s drill down to each one a little further:
1) Generate financial statements that accurately measure and track impact of business initiatives
Put simply, you’ll be responsible for putting together and owning company-wide financial statements. If it sounds like a lot of responsibility, it is! But let’s break this down to the micro tasks:
- You’ll have frequent meetings with your business leaders to review cash and accrued expenses
- You’ll be the one preparing the various monthly general ledger entries; including account reconciliations
Reconciling cash accounts with financial
implementation of the company’s financial infrastructure and accounting policy
At startups, financial systems and policies are a mess. Both of which are a product of moving fast and an intense focus on product. That’s ok, that’s why they hire strong staff accountants who know the lingo and can put it all together:
- You’ll work with your engineering team to ensure that you are able to accurately record revenue and expenses
- Determine which financial ERP suits your company best - NetSuite, SAP, Quickbooks, etc
- Ensuring the overall accounting processes comply with GAAP -- if you do this right, you’ll save your company millions in consulting fees when you are ready to go public
3) Dive deep
into each financial statement line-item to create meaningful explanations for
fluctuations that lead to meaningful business decisions
The highest performing staff accountants do to set themselves apart by making sure the financial statements accurately reflect new business initiatives.
- Setting up budget versus actual reviews
- Identifying opportunities and risks on the P&L before business owners do
Performing detailed analysis and having
explanations on large or inconsistent variances and communicating why / what
policy drives each
If you are starting your career or are already a staff accountant, make sure you pay attention to the guide above to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success.
Staff Accountant Basics
So now you've gotten to the good stuff - the accountant salary. The good thing about the staff accountant role, it’s a great place to start or grow your career. Remember every company has finances and the need for staff to be stewards of this capital.
So let's dive into staff accountant salaries in New York. The average salary for a Staff Accountant is almost $50,000 and can range to $70,000. That's a cash figure and could include a incentive, bonus, or stock comp on top of that.
So what's the difference between the staff accountant that earns $50,000 and the one that earns $70,000? We've worked with several organizations and have found the following reasons for companies willing to pay more:
* Bachelor's degree in Accounting
* Big 4 Experience
* Specific experience in the company's systems & procedures (link to vested flow)
* Negotiating skills (create content on this)
One surprising fact:
Seniority does not have as big of an impact as people think as raises come in the first few years of the position. But after that you should look to grow your skills and become an Accounting Manager, Controller, or even CFO.
The Hidden Secret to Crafting the Best Accounting Resume
Think about this for a moment, you're a hiring manager that has posted an accounting job on LinkedIn. If you're in his or her shoes, you're probably sitting on a pile of hundreds of staff accountant resumes to parse through. Spend 45 seconds on each and that's a 4 hour task to just do an initial resume screen!
Here's the kicker:
Now multiply that by the 10 or 15 outstanding roles they have and you can pencil in 2 weeks of resume screening time. Where does the time to phone screen or coordinate an on-site visit come from?
So what's the point of all of this?
You have a VERY short time to show off your resume to the people that count, so it has to be as high impact as possible.
What’s the hidden secret?
Its using the ‘Keyword’ technique: basically, you need to highlight keywords that trigger the hiring manager which makes you stand out. Let’s take a look at this technique in action:
1) You can become more relatable to a prospective employer if you highlight the similarities in your work experience to the company you are applying to.
If you are applying to a consumer startup, make sure that you highlight your prior relevant experience. After all, the challenges that accountants face at small, growth companies are very different than those at large ones (Steve's post).
Tactical advice: Try to be as specific as possible when describing your prior work experience. Mention that you worked for a "fast growing startup in the cosmetics subscription space" Notice the words paint a picture about your industry, growth experience and revenue model (the subscriptions). You're demonstrating relevant experience and can bring institutional knowledge to the prospective company.
2) At startups, time is at a premium. Just take a look at the requirements for a Staff Accountant job at Uber
What you'll need:
● Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance
● 2-3 years of professional experience
● Team player, have ability to work independently and willingness to take on challenges
● Ability to interact with all departments and levels throughout our organization
● Excellent time management skills, ability to prioritize, and multitask
● Experience with Oracle R12 or another large scale ERP is a plus!
Of the 6 items above, you can distill this into the following 3 questions.
1) Do you have at least a couple of years of experience as an accountant? Check.
2) Have you worked at a startup before? Check.
3) Are you proficient in Oracle's or similar financial software like Netsuite? Check.
You can really demonstrate your proficiency in #3 by using a few key words. Look at the following
“Researched, selected and implemented the Netsuite cloud ERP system”
Notice, that using those 3 key words you have demonstrated that will be extremely valuable to any startup as they select a new ERP as they scale their business.
Alternatively, you can join the Vested platform and let the companies apply to you.
Locations: Where are the jobs?
So a few of the basics - LinkedIn says there are 139,000 accountants in New York City. That’s more than the #2 and #3 cities combined - Chicago and San Francisco. If you pick a career as a Staff Accountant, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll end up in a large city like New York. New York is definitely a higher cost city, but the average salaries are also higher here. And because of the abundance of career opportunities in the city, you’ll have a greater chance of career advancement and salary increases. Take a look at the graphic below from LinkedIn.
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