Career Development

What Does a General Accountant Do?

Find out what a General Accountant does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a General Accountant.

The General Accountant role encompasses a broad spectrum of financial responsibilities within a company, ensuring accurate and timely reporting of financial data. This position is instrumental in maintaining the integrity of accounting information by recording, verifying, and consolidating transactions. Additionally, the General Accountant assists in the preparation of financial statements and budgets, providing a clear picture of the company’s financial health. By managing these tasks, the General Accountant supports decision-making processes across various departments, facilitating smooth and efficient financial operations. Their expertise not only helps in compliance with legal requirements but also in identifying financial trends and opportunities for improvement, making them an integral part of the finance team.

General Accountant Job Duties

  • Prepare and analyze financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, ensuring accuracy and compliance with applicable accounting standards and regulations.
  • Manage accounts payable and accounts receivable, including invoice processing, payment collection, and resolving discrepancies in a timely manner.
  • Execute monthly and year-end closing processes, including journal entries, general ledger maintenance, and account reconciliations to ensure accurate financial reporting.
  • Administer payroll processing, including calculation of wages, benefits, tax deductions, and ensuring timely distribution of employee paychecks.
  • Coordinate and assist with external audits by providing necessary financial data, supporting documentation, and explanations for audit inquiries.
  • Implement and maintain internal financial controls and procedures to ensure the integrity of financial transactions and reporting.
  • Oversee tax planning and compliance activities, including preparation of tax returns, payment of taxes due, and liaising with tax authorities as required.
  • Conduct financial analysis and forecasting, including budget preparation, variance analysis, and financial modeling to support strategic decision-making and financial planning.

General Accountant Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a General Accountant’s salary include years of experience, industry expertise (e.g., finance vs. healthcare), size of the employing organization, and specialized skills like expertise in tax law or proficiency in specific accounting software. Advanced degrees and roles requiring strategic financial planning also command higher salaries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $65,625 ($31.55/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of general accountants is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

This growth is driven by an increasing need for financial documentation and transparency across businesses, heightened by global economic expansion and evolving tax regulations. General Accountants’ expertise in preparing accurate financial statements and ensuring compliance with financial laws remains indispensable, sustaining their demand.

General Accountant Job Requirements

Education: A General Accountant typically holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Finance, or a related field, with a significant portion also pursuing a Master’s Degree for advanced knowledge. Essential coursework includes principles of accounting, financial reporting, taxation, and auditing. A strong foundation in business law, economics, and statistics is also crucial. Specializations in areas like forensic accounting or financial analysis may enhance job prospects and expertise in the field.

Experience: General Accountants typically possess extensive experience in financial reporting, tax preparation, and budget analysis. They often have a background in managing accounts payable/receivable and conducting audits. On-the-job training is common, allowing them to refine their expertise in accounting software and regulatory compliance. Many have participated in professional training programs to stay abreast of industry changes. Ideal candidates have progressed through roles that demand increasing responsibility, showcasing their ability to handle complex accounting tasks and lead financial projects.

Certifications & Licenses: General Accountants often benefit from obtaining the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Additionally, certifications like the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) can be advantageous. No specific licenses are required universally, but these certifications can enhance job prospects and credibility in the field.

General Accountant Skills

Financial Reporting: General accountants play a pivotal role in summarizing an organization’s financial status, enabling stakeholders to make well-informed decisions. Their work requires a meticulous attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge of regulatory standards to ensure the accuracy and compliance of all financial documents.

Tax Preparation: Through the careful compilation and analysis of financial records, general accountants ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Their deep understanding of tax codes and legislation allows for the optimization of tax strategies and filings, which protects the financial health of the organization and minimizes liabilities.

Auditing: Examining financial statements and records, general accountants identify discrepancies or fraudulent activity. Their expertise in accounting standards is critical for assessing and enhancing financial systems and controls, ensuring financial accuracy and adherence to laws.

Cost Accounting: Accountants analyze all costs related to production, ensuring precise product pricing and budget compliance. Their ability to forecast financial outcomes based on current cost trends is crucial for a company’s profitability and strategic planning.

Financial Analysis: By scrutinizing financial statements and market trends, general accountants offer accurate forecasts and strategic advice for business expansion. Their analysis helps pinpoint financial discrepancies, optimize budget allocation, and support decision-making with insightful data.

Regulatory Compliance: General accountants audit and maintain accurate records to avoid legal issues and penalties, ensuring all financial practices and reports are in line with current legal standards. Keeping abreast of changes in tax codes and financial reporting standards is part of their role to ensure compliance.

General Accountant Work Environment

A General Accountant typically operates in a structured office setting, where individual workspaces are equipped with the necessary computing tools and software for financial analysis and reporting. The environment is designed for focus, with moderate noise levels primarily from office equipment and low-key conversations.

Work hours tend to follow a standard business schedule, but periods such as the end of the fiscal year or tax season may require additional hours to meet deadlines. The dress code leans towards business casual, reflecting a professional yet comfortable atmosphere.

The culture within the accounting department encourages collaboration and continuous learning, with opportunities for professional development through workshops and seminars. Interaction with colleagues is frequent for project coordination, though much of the work is independently focused.

Health and safety protocols are observed, ensuring a well-lit, ergonomically sound environment. Companies often support work-life balance, offering some flexibility in work hours and remote work options, depending on the task’s nature.

Advancement Prospects

A General Accountant can progress to senior roles such as Senior Accountant, where they handle more complex financial analysis and reporting. With experience, they might oversee a team, stepping into a managerial position, such as Accounting Manager, directing daily operations and strategy.

Ambitious professionals often aim for the role of Controller, overseeing all accounting functions and financial reporting, or even Chief Financial Officer (CFO), where strategic financial planning and leadership are key responsibilities.

Advancement typically requires a blend of practical experience, a deep understanding of financial regulations, and a track record of improving financial processes and outcomes. Specializing in areas like tax, audit, or forensic accounting can open doors to niche opportunities with higher responsibility and compensation.


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