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
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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
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
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
Entry Routes and Training
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 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.
Previous experience in numerical work and/or office administration would be really useful for this career.
Accounts Assistants can progress to Accounting Technician posts after taking further qualifications. Some Accounts Assistants might specialise in payroll or credit control.
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.
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.
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.
Colleges will usually consider applications from adults who do not meet their usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.
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).
Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
Address: 140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY
Tel: 0845 8630802
Publisher: Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)
Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 2573772
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Accounting Technicians Ireland
Address: 47-49 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
Tel: 01 6498100
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)
Skills for the financial, finance and accountancy sectors
Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 2573772
International Association of Book-keepers (IAB)
Address: Suite 5, 20 Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU
Tel: 0844 3303527
Jobs in Credit
Publisher: Incisive Media