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Job Photographs

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at a computer screen.

    Accounts/finance clerks carry out clerical work involving the accurate handling of figures. They use computers to do this work.

  • A lady is sitting at a desk, typing on a computer keyboard.

    Preparing an invoice for a customer.

  • A man is sitting at a desk with two computer screens in front of him.  He is using a spreadsheet on one screen, and there is a chart on the other screen.

    Accounts clerks often use spreadsheets in their work.

  • A lady is sitting at a desk with two computer screens on it.  She is talking into a telephone headset and looking at one of the screens.

    Using a telephone headset to ring a customer with a query about a payment.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a calculator.

    Using a calculator to check some figures.

  • A lady is sitting at a desk, and a man is crouching down beside her.  They are both looking at a printed document, which the man is holding.

    Checking some figures with a colleague. Teamwork is important.

  • A man is standing by a printer in an office.  He is about to take a printed sheet out of the printer.

    Printing out a report for a manager.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, putting a printed document into a file.

    Filing a report. It is important to be well organised.

  • Accounts Assistant

Accounts Assistant

Introduction

Accounts Assistants carry out clerical work involving the accurate handling of figures. Duties vary according to employer. Accounts Assistants might prepare invoices, deal with payments and calculate wages. They keep records and check balance sheets and statements.

Also known as

  • Cashier - Office

Video: - Tracey: Accounts/Finance Clerk

Video: - Naomi: Accounts Assistant

Video: - Christopher: Accounts Assistant

Work Activities

As an Accounts Assistant, you will work in offices. Your work varies from employer to employer, but will deal with figures and calculations. Sometimes you might be handling cash.

You might calculate the total cost of products or services ordered by customers, taking into account the costs of time, labour, overheads and materials. You'll then prepare an invoice and send it to the customer for payment, and record payments as they are returned.

You must keep an accurate record of all invoices raised and associated documents - this is called sales ledger work.

You might record the cost of purchases your organisation has made, and send off payments for goods and services received. This is called purchase ledger work. For each set of costs, you'll prepare an analysis, statement or report for supervisory staff. You might need to contact customers or suppliers to discuss outstanding payments or credits.

As an Accounts Assistant, you will also keep a record of the financial transactions performed each day. Before Independent Accountants check the company's accounts, you will prepare a trial balance (the agreement or difference between credit and debit in an account). You might also calculate and prepare VAT, company tax and audit statements, or have responsibility for stock control.

You'll use specialist accounting software to help you with your work. For example, you might:

  • enter data
  • run reports
  • use spreadsheets or databases
  • prepare letters or emails

Sometimes you might be involved in working out wages based on the number of hours worked (including overtime), rates of pay and deductions such as National Insurance, tax payments, student loan repayments and pension contributions.

Accounts Assistants might also check travelling expense claim forms submitted by members of staff, and arrange for them to be paid. You might keep, and account for, small amounts of cash (called petty cash) to do this.

As an Accounts Assistant in a small company, you could be involved in all these duties. In larger organisations, you might specialise in just one or two.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Accounts Assistant, you'll need to have:

  • good number skills
  • good communication skills
  • an organised, methodical and logical approach
  • teamwork skills
  • IT and keyboard skills (knowledge of spreadsheets, email and databases will be useful)

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £18,500 - £20,500
  • With experience: £22,500 - £26,500
  • Senior Accounts Assistants earn £29,500 - £34,500

Hours of work

Accounts Assistants usually work 35-39 hours, Monday to Friday. Full-time, part-time, temporary and flexible working arrangements might be available.

Where could I work?

Employers are businesses and organisations in every sector of industry, commerce, public service and charity.

Opportunities for Accounts Assistants occur regularly in all towns and cities throughout the UK.

This career could include working for an agency. For more information take a look at our information article working for an agency.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You can enter this career by applying directly for trainee vacancies.

Most employers prefer Accounts Assistants to have some GCSEs at grade C/4.

An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start.

Training

Training is available, sometimes through day-release to college, leading to nationally recognised qualifications.

These include qualifications offered by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB).

The IAB offers awards and certificates in bookkeeping, manual book-keeping and computerised bookkeeping. The AAT offers the certificate in bookkeeping and the level 2 certificate in accounting.

BTEC also offers a level 3 qualification in payroll. This course has a range of units, which include:

  • working effectively in accounting and finance
  • employment legislation for payroll
  • determining gross pay
  • payroll processing
  • termination of employment
  • computerised payroll administration

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Previous experience in numerical work and/or office administration would be really useful for this career.

Progression

Accounts Assistants can progress to Accounting Technician posts after taking further qualifications. Some Accounts Assistants might specialise in payroll or credit control.

Qualifications

Most employers prefer applicants with some GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths. Some employers test applicants' IT skills.

They might accept equivalent work-related qualifications, such as a City and Guilds level 2 qualification in accounting or a BTEC level 2 qualification in business.

To get onto an Intermediate Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs, possibly including English and maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Some applicants have relevant skills in, for example, numerical work and/or office administration.

You might be able to take an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Accounting.

Courses

Colleges will usually consider applications from adults who do not meet their usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.

Distance learning

A large number of centres offer distance learning courses in ICT skills, such as word processing, spreadsheets and databases.

The International Association of Book-Keepers offers level 1 and 2 awards and certificates in relevant subjects by distance learning. Relevant distance learning is also available from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

Further Information

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)

Address: 140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY

Tel: 0845 8630802

Email: aat@aat.org.uk

Website: www.aat.org.uk

Recruit.co.uk

Publisher: Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772

Email: directions@financialskillspartnership.org.uk

Website: www.directions.org.uk/careers

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Accounting Technicians Ireland

Irish enquiries

Address: 47-49 Pearse Street, Dublin 2

Tel: 01 6498100

Email: info@AccountingTechniciansIreland.ie

Website: www.accountingtechniciansireland.ie

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Skills for the financial, finance and accountancy sectors

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772

Email: info@financialskillspartnership.org.uk

Website: www.financialskillspartnership.org.uk

International Association of Book-keepers (IAB)

Address: Suite 5, 20 Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU

Tel: 0844 3303527

Email: mail@iab.org.uk

Website: www.iab.org.uk

Jobs in Credit

Publisher: Incisive Media

Website: www.jobsincredit.com/careers

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

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