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Lead Accountant vs. Senior Accountant: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in accounting can be very rewarding. If you’re interested in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between a lead accountant and a senior accountant. Both positions require excellent math skills and attention to detail, but there are several key distinctions between the two. In this article, we discuss the differences between a lead accountant and a senior accountant, and we provide additional information about each role.

What is a Lead Accountant?

Lead Accountants are responsible for managing a team of accountants and overseeing the completion of all accounting tasks. They develop and implement accounting policies and procedures, and they train and supervise staff. Lead Accountants also prepare financial statements, manage budgets and forecast future financial needs. They often work closely with other departments within a company to ensure that all financial transactions are accurately recorded. Lead Accountants typically have several years of experience working in an accounting role before being promoted to a management position.

What is a Senior Accountant?

Senior Accountants are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of an organization’s financial statements. They prepare and oversee the journal entries, ledgers, and reconciliations to maintain the financial records. They also work with auditors to ensure compliance with generally accepted accounting principles. Senior Accountants typically report to the Accounting Manager or the Controller. They may supervise junior accounting staff and provide guidance on accounting procedures. Senior Accountants may also be responsible for special projects, such as implementing new accounting software or assisting with due diligence for mergers and acquisitions.

Lead Accountant vs. Senior Accountant

Here are the main differences between a lead accountant and a senior accountant.

Job Duties

Lead accountants have more responsibility than senior accountants, as the title implies. A lead accountant oversees a team of other accountants and makes sure they perform their duties correctly. They also make sure each project is complete and ready for review by a higher-level executive or manager. In contrast, senior accountants typically manage their own projects and work with little supervision. They may report to a lead accountant about overall department performance or issues with certain projects.

The daily job duties of both positions are similar, but a lead accountant has more responsibilities because of their supervisory role. For example, they might train new hires, schedule shifts and monitor productivity. Senior accountants often work independently and complete projects quickly. They may research complex accounting methods and provide guidance to others in their department.

Job Requirements

Lead accountants and senior accountants typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many lead accountants and senior accountants pursue certifications through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use accounting software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Lead accountants typically work in an office setting, often for a large company. They may travel to different locations to meet with clients or attend conferences and seminars. Senior accountants usually work in an office environment as well, but they may also have the opportunity to work remotely from home. This is because senior accountants are more experienced than lead accountants and can handle most tasks on their own without supervision.

Both positions require long hours of hard work, so it’s important that both professionals enjoy working independently and don’t mind being away from family and friends for extended periods of time.


Both lead accountants and senior accountants use accounting skills to perform their jobs. This includes bookkeeping, auditing, tax preparation and financial analysis. They also both use interpersonal skills when they are working with clients or colleagues.

Lead accountants typically have more responsibilities than senior accountants. They may oversee a team of accountants and be responsible for training and mentoring them. They may also be in charge of developing new accounting procedures and ensuring that the team adheres to all relevant laws and regulations. Because of these additional responsibilities, lead accountants often need to have strong management and leadership skills.

Senior accountants usually have more experience than lead accountants. They may provide guidance to junior staff, but they are not typically responsible for managing a team. Senior accountants may specialize in a particular area of accounting, such as tax preparation or auditing. As a result, they may use more specialized skills than lead accountants.


The average salary for a lead accountant is $73,317 per year, while the average salary for a senior accountant is $81,599 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the accountant has prior to pursuing either position.


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