4 Skills to get you from accounting clerk to financial manager
A job as an accounting clerk will help you establish yourself in the financial field, but this is just the beginning of your career path. With the right education and skill set, you can climb the ladder to a lucrative position as a financial manager.
While bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have a median annual wage of $37,250, the income for a finance manager is more than three times that at a median of $130,00. If you have your eye on a financial center management job, make sure you're working on the right skills to get you there.
Finance skills are high on the list of essentials for financial center managers. As an accounting clerk, you probably honed your skills in bookkeeping and record keeping. You should also have experience with reconciling bank statements, maintaining a general ledger, matching invoices to purchase orders, and processing accounts payable and receivable. If you're not yet comfortable with these tasks, you may need to log some more time in a lower-level financial career to sharpen your skill set.
While accounting clerks can often land a job with a high school diploma or only some college coursework, you'll need a minimum of a Bachelor's degree to become a financial center manager. This will require advanced math skills. The best degrees for a financial manager career are those in accounting, economics, or business administration. A Bachelor's degree is essential, but in many companies, a Master's degree is preferred.
Beyond your financial skill set, you'll need to demonstrate strong administrative capabilities to land your dream job. You'll need outstanding management skills, including the following:
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Analytical skills
- Time management
Strong administrators are able to assess both the big picture and the critical pieces that it comprises. Your time as an accounting clerk will serve you well when you advance to a management position. You can use your experience to help you identify areas of disorganization or inefficiency. Once you've pinpointed problem spots, you can use your analytical skills, logical reasoning, and lateral thinking to brainstorm smart solutions and make the necessary adjustments to improve business practices.
Though professional certification isn't a requirement for a financial manager job, the right credentials will help you demonstrate your relevant skills. These credentials also immediately demonstrate your skills at goal setting and studying, both of which are important for advancing your career. Listing your skills on a resume or speaking to them in an interview will only go so far. Certification programs demonstrate your capabilities in a more measurable way.
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute offers a CFA Program that will prepare you for the CFA credential. This program covers portfolio management, wealth planning, and investment analysis skills, among others. The CFA examination includes three exams that must be taken sequentially.
You can also become a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP). This credential is available from the Association for Financial Professionals. Passing the CTP exam demonstrates your ability to use best practices for treasury management. The examination has 170 multiple choice questions. Recertification is required every three years.
Though you may have performed primarily solitary work as an accounting clerk, the scope of your job changes dramatically when you enter management. You'll need strong communication skills that help you work effectively with your team and guide their efforts within the department. These skills include the following:
- Meeting management
- Effective presentation
The better you can communicate with those around you, the more effective you'll be in any management job. In a financial center, you'll need to work on communicating complex financial topics in an understandable manner so you can work as effectively with those outside finance as you do with those who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of money management.
Financial center managers have a broad range of responsibilities that include preparing business reports, drafting forecasts, reviewing company financials, and supervising employees. You should be as skilled at analyzing market trends as you are at assessing employee strengths and resolving personnel issues. Though this job requires an extensive skill set, it offers outstanding compensation. Fill out your resume with the right qualifications, and you can land the financial career you're after.