Senior Accountant Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A Senior Accountant, or Chief Accountant, is responsible for ensuring that accounts and financial records meet established standards and criteria. Their duties include analyzing financial documents, recording and verifying transactions, as well as producing payroll. 

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Senior Accountant duties and responsibilities

Successful Senior Accountants are analytical and procedural in their day-to-day activities. They are dependable, and the company trusts their ability to prepare and analyze all financial documents. Duties and responsibilities of a Senior Accountant may include:

  • Using the highest standards and practices to ensure financial documents comply with the law
  • Collecting and verifying financial information
  • Maintaining a general ledger by inputting daily financial transactions
  • Directing other employees and Junior Accountants
  • Putting together payroll for their company or clients
  • Resolving financial problems, performing audits, and analyzing profit loss
  • Preparing financial statements, producing accounting reports, and checking them for accuracy
  • Increasing company revenues and boosting profits

What does a Senior Accountant do?

A Senior Accountant ensures the financial accounts of an organization meet the highest standards of integrity. They resolve financial discrepancies and locate areas of revenue loss within a company, while also identifying new opportunities for growth. 

This individual is typically the head of the finance department and covers all aspects of financial activity. Top executives rely heavily on the advice and expertise of their Senior Accountant in order to forecast trends in the economy and how best to navigate them. People with this job title may train articling students and provide guidance to Junior Accountants. 

Senior Accountant skills and qualifications

Senior Accountants are knowledgeable about tax laws and are able to train and manage staff. Some of their top skills include:

  • Strong understanding of mathematics
  • Excellent time management and ability to meet constant deadlines
  • Knowledgeable in financial computer software
  • Good delegation skills
  • Accounting knowledge
  • Detail orientation
  • Proficiency in Excel
  • Accreditation through CPA Canada

Senior Accountant experience requirements

In many cases, Senior Accountants should have three years’ or more experience to be considered for a position. Depending on the province, Senior Accountants are expected to have a minimum of two years to 30 months of on-the-job training before they may practice. 

Prospective Senior Accountants may also have had internships and volunteer opportunities. They may have done stints with non-profit organizations, such as charities, as a volunteer to help sort out the organization’s finances. 

Senior Accountant education and training requirements

Basic educational requirements for a Senior Accountant generally include a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, economics, or a related field.

Top-level Accountants should hold a CPA designation which stands for Chartered Professional Accountant. CPA certification varies between provinces, but must be obtained from a regulatory authority. Practicing Accountants must be registered with the appropriate provincial Association.

The ideal candidate stays abreast of current trends and technology developments through workshops, online courses, and enrolling in continuing education every few years. They also stay current by mentoring interns and teaching Junior Accountants. 

Senior Accountant salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average annual salary for a Senior Accountant is $66,836 per year.  Salary can be dependent on location, experience, industry and employer.

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Senior Accountant job description FAQs

What is the difference between a Senior Accountant and a Staff Accountant?

The difference between a Senior Accountant and a Staff Accountant is the level of experience. With more education, experience, and certifications, a Staff Accountant can become a Senior Accountant.

Typically, when there are a number of Accountants working within a company, these titles distinguish their levels of experience and responsibility. Therefore, while they may have some overlap in their duties, Senior Accountants help their company’s management team and may or may not have supervisory responsibilities. 

It’s also worth noting that Staff Accountants often have their bachelor’s degrees, but they don’t necessarily have to be CPAs. In comparison, Senior Accountants almost always have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and may even have their CPA or be a CPA candidate.

What should you look for in a Senior Accountant resume?

A Senior Accountant’s resume demonstrates a commitment to the ethical and professional handling of financial information. The ideal resume highlights the candidate’s hard skills such as proficiency in accounting software and data analysis, as well as mathematical expertise, with 3-5 years of experience in the field performing such tasks as tax preparation, maintaining general ledger accounts, and monitoring budgets. The resume should showcase responsibilities that reflect the candidate’s ability to think critically, solve difficult problems, and uphold the highest standards of accounting practices.  

Who does a Senior Accountant report to?

A Senior Accountant usually maintains a high position within the company and therefore will often report to the employer or business owner directly. The employer is often interacting with the Senior Accountant, and having meetings with them. 

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