What Are Entry Level Accounting Jobs?

Entry Level Accounting Jobs are available but the competition is fierce. 

The educational standards continue to rise as companies look for the most qualified candidates possible.  A Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting is required by most large companies. 

What if you have an Associate Degree in Accounting or no degree at all? It's the classic question:

"How do I get an accounting job with no experience?"

Don’t be discouraged.

There are still opportunities available for you in smaller organizations, but you will need to find ways to stand out from the competition.

Your first step, regardless of education, is a complete understanding of each position you apply for and the required qualifications.  Let’s review the most common entry level accounting jobs and their requirements.

Entry Level Accounting JobsAccountingPaths.com

Accounts Receivable – Billing, Credit, Collections and Customer Accounts

Accounts receivable, simply put, is the money owed to a company or organization by a customer.  It includes creating invoices, posting customer payments, maintaining and reconciling customer accounts, and preparing bank deposits.

In smaller organizations one person works with the entire cycle from billing through to payment and reconciliation.  Larger organizations divide the tasks among many people in a department.  No matter what size organization customer service skills are a huge asset. 

You will interact with customers, and often these customers will be confused or frustrated.  Your ability to remain calm and professional will differentiate you from your peers.

Let’s look at the various entry level accounts receivable positions and the degree requirements for them.

  • Billing Clerk or Order Processor – generates invoices and processes orders for customers.  Fast paced, requiring a high degree of accuracy.  Involves lots of data entry as well as basic audit skills to review contracts and apply revenue to appropriate accounts.  A degree is helpful, but not typically required.
  • Accounts Receivable Clerk – maintains customer accounts, receives and applies customer payments, sets up new customer accounts, reconciles customer accounts, and works with month end reporting.  A Bachelor Degree is required by large companies.  An Associate Degree is often required except in the smallest organizations.
  • Medical Billing / Patient Accounts - This is a specialized type of accounts receivable and good medical billers are in demand.   You will work within a hospital or other medical facility billing insurance companies on behalf of patients.  You need to understand medical terminology and be highly organized.  A degree is not required but a good sense of humor and a calm personality are very helpful.   The customer service associated with this position is often very stressful.

Accounts Payable Clerk– Paying Bills & Reconciling Vendor Accounts

Accounts payable involves working with vendor accounts.  Vendor simply means a person or organization that your company has bought goods or services from.

These roles are recognised as some of the best entry level accounting jobs out there!

If you work in accounts payable you audit vendor invoices and statements against purchase orders, post those invoices into an accounting program, generate payment, and reconcile vendor accounts.

Accounts payable involves managing the bills for the company, under the direction of a supervisor, and paying them according to the company’s cash flow policies.  Some organizations pay early to fully utilize discounts, others don’t.  Smaller organizations often have peaks and valleys in their cash flow and pay bills according to available resources.

In small organizations, the accounts payable position can be very stressful.  When cash is tight, as it often is, you may be asked to convince vendors to be patient.  At times you may have to negotiate with raw materials vendors to ensure material delivery although you cannot make payment in full. 

Larger organizations have high volume accounts payable positions.  In these organizations, you may find yourself managing a few key vendors and posting a large number of invoices daily or weekly.  At times you may feel more like a data entry clerk than anything else.

Accounts payable involves problem solving.  You will investigate discrepancies in billing and verify that vendors apply your company’s payment properly.  Seems easy enough, but every accounts payable associate has a file of problem invoices awaiting resolution.  Be prepared to work on complex billing issues that take months to resolve.  It’s part of the role.

Payroll Processing – Not For the Faint of Heart

Payroll processing is one of the more challenging entry level accounting jobs available.  In many companies this accounting function is considered part of the human resources department because of the employee compensation component. 

As a result, you effectively have two supervisors – the Human Resources Manager and the Controller or Accounting Manager.  Prepare to balance multiple deadlines and priorities.  Project work will come to you from both managers.

As payroll clerk you need both 100% accuracy and 100% confidentiality.  Even the smallest error affects another employee’s compensation.  You must be organized and detail oriented to succeed.  You will see compensation information and personal details of other employees.  You must carefully guard this information, and not even hint about it to others.

It’s easy to become discouraged by dwelling on the wage rate and payroll status of your peers.  Resist the temptation.

What Are Some Entry Level Accounting Jobs Requiring a Bachelor Degree?

In addition to the positions we’ve already discussed, there are some entry level jobs that require a Bachelor Degree for consideration, regardless of company size or industry.  As a recent graduate, you may be interested in one of these positions.

  • Staff, Junior, or General Accountant – The title varies depending on the organization, but the tasks are essentially the same.  In this position you will reconcile general ledger accounts, prepare journal entries, and assist in the preparation of financial reports.  Depending on the organization, you may be asked to analyze trends, assist with budget preparation, and work on a number of special accounting projects. 
  • Entry Level Cost Accountant – Did you enjoy your cost accounting classes?  If so, this position may be a good fit for you.  You will prepare and analyze cost reports and conduct costing audits under direction of a supervisor.  Brush up on your spreadsheet creation skills.  Complex spreadsheets are the language of cost accounting.
  • Entry Level Internal Auditor – Internal auditors go into various departments of larger corporations and look for weaknesses in the financial controls as well as errors in documentation or financial data.  If the organization is very large, you may find yourself travelling to satellite locations for weeks at a time.  You have to love audit to succeed in this job and be willing to highlight departmental issues even when it isn’t popular.  Internal audit can be a lonely position.
  • Tax Accountant – usually employed by a public accounting firm, this position involves preparing the local, state, and federal tax returns for individuals and corporations along with the related schedules and reports.  You will work long hours under the umbrella of a CPA, but you will learn a lot about public accounting in the process.  Experienced tax accountants advise their clients, but you will not give much advice during your first year or more. 

Want A Good Entry Level Accounting Job? Differentiate Yourself.

Entry Level Accounting Jobs require exceptional organizational and time management skills.  Education is not enough to guarantee a top position in this competitive environment. 

You must demonstrate your intelligence, willingness to learn, and dedication to differentiate yourself from the competition.  Highlight problem solving or detailed work experience on your resume, understand the requirements of the position you’re applying for, and put your most professional foot forward.  

Doing so will help you stand out among your peers.