Becoming an Accounts Payable Clerk

An accounts payable clerk is responsible for paying the bills of a business enterprise. The responsibilities and educational requirements vary with the needs of the business. Smaller businesses require that the accounts payable clerk to pay all bills of the enterprise, but businesses with large accounting staffs may require an accounts payable clerk to record and pay invoices using the purchases journal.

Educational Requirements

Businesses with Large Accounting Staff - Since the responsibilities of an accounts payable clerk in businesses with a large accounting staff are limited, the clerks educational requirements may be only a high school diploma or GED. The clerk is trained to verify invoices, record them in the purchases journal, and make certain that they are paid on time. In addition, the clerk is taught the significance of discounts, and the method used to remind clerks to pay invoices within the discount period. Transactions are usually approved by the accounting supervisor.The purchases journal is used to record purchases of inventory items purchased on account. If cash is used to pay for inventory items, the entry is recorded in the cash journal. The accounts payable clerk is responsible for reconciling the invoices with the paid invoices at the end of each accounting period.

Chances for advancement are somewhat limited without additional education. Online or evening classes will increase chances for advancement within the business.

Businesses with Small Accounting Staff - When the accounting staff is smaller, the accounts payable clerk has more responsibilities. Businesses in this category will usually require an associate degree in accounting or finance. An associate degree requires approximately two years to complete. The degree is offered at universities, community colleges, vocational and technical schools.Accounts payable clerks with associate degrees are responsible for paying all bills. Under the supervision of the accounting supervisor, accounts payable clerks maintain and compile all payable records. In addition, the clerk works with vendors and service providers to reconcile purchase orders and invoices. Since some or all of the work may be computerized, the clerk may need some knowledge of accounting software programs.

In addition, the clerk may be required to compile various financial and organizational reports. Some clerks are required to issue 1099 Misc forms and compile tax information.

Accounts payable clerks who hold associate degrees in accounting or finance may advance to auditing, taxes, financing or other branches of the accounting profession.

Accounts Payable Clerks’ Salaries

Salaries for accounts payable clerks vary according to location. In the United States, the salary range is $24,000 to $42,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accounting clerks in 2012 was over $36,000.

Value to the Company

The accounts payable clerk is vital to the company. Retail businesses must sell their inventories to earn revenue. Purchasing and paying for the inventory items in a timely manner is vital to the operation of the business. In addition, current and long term liabilities are essential in determining the financial position of the business. The reduction of current liabilities increases working capital. If working capital is not adequate, the business must borrow cash to continue operations. The accuracy and efficiency of the accounts payable clerk’s work can increase the company’s profits. Although a high school diploma or GED qualifies a person for the position, the clerk can do excellent work and rise in the organization.

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