Senior Accountant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Senior Accountant, or Senior Accounting Professional, is responsible for performing complex accounting needs for their employer. Their duties include assuming a leadership role to guide accounting personnel in daily tasks, reviewing financial data to make forecasting decisions and communicating with company Executives about financial strategies.

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Senior Accountant duties and responsibilities

A Senior Accountant is responsible for a company’s financial procedures, records and statements for compliance with laws and regulations. Here are some of the usual duties of a Senior Accountant:

  • Recommend ways to reduce costs and enhance revenue.
  • Prepare documentation for External Auditors.
  • Analyze financial statements for discrepancies and alert the CFO if necessary.
  • Coordinate semi-annual audits and assist the CFO in running audits.
  • Reconcile accounts monthly to ensure accurate reporting and ledger maintenance.
  • Delegate financial responsibilities to the accounting team.
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What does a Senior Accountant do?

Senior Accountants typically work for accounting firms or corporations across industries to ensure their employer maintains efficient accounting practices. They work closely with company leadership and other finance professionals to reconcile accounts and review quarterly or annual reports. Their job is to help prepare information for external accounting audits and contact clients or business partners to ask about missed payments. They may also be responsible for training new accounting staff and delegating administrative tasks among lower-level accounting staff.

Senior Accountant skills and qualifications

Senior Accountant skills and qualifications may include degrees and certifications, previous work experience, technical skills, soft skills and personality traits compatible with working with numbers and supervising others who do so. A list of skills and qualifications might include the following:

  • Strong mathematical and analytical skills
  • Proficient in word processing and spreadsheet software
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Proven ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • Demonstrated ability to lead a team
  • Strong understanding of federal, state and local tax regulations

Senior Accountant salary expectations

The average Senior Accountant salary is $73,929 per year. The starting salary for the position will vary based on the geographical location, education and experience level of the applicant.

Senior Accountant education and training requirements

Senior Accountants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or another related field. If the Senior Accountant will be filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they are legally required to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). These licenses are issued by a state’s Board of Accountancy. Most states require 150 semester hours of college courses to become a CPA. 

Senior Accountant experience requirements

The Senior Accountant should have at least 5 years of accounting experience and 5 years’ experience leading a team. The Senior Accountant should be well versed in reviewing reports prepared by Staff or Junior Accountants. Senior Accountants are usually promoted to this position after working as a Staff of Junior Accountant. 

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Frequently asked questions about Senior Accountants


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

The difference between a Senior Accountant and a Staff Accountant is seniority and their scope of job responsibilities. For example, both Senior Accountants and Staff Accountants need to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Still, Senior Accountants usually have more years of experience working as an accountant or have obtained a master’s degree in accounting. Their differences in education and length of professional experience mean that Senior Accountants usually oversee Staff Accountants and other accounting staff. 

This also means that they have different job responsibilities. Staff Accountants are typically responsible for updating company balance sheets and other financial statements, whereas Senior Accountants review those statements to make valuable insights about the company’s financial health.


What are the daily duties of a Senior Accountant?

On a typical day, a Senior Accountant starts by checking their email and voicemail to respond to time-sensitive messages from upper management, accounting staff or business clients. They review upcoming deadlines for financial reports or payments and plan their day accordingly. Throughout the day, they visit with accounting staff members to delegate tasks, answer questions and check on their progress with certain accounting projects. Senior Accountants also meet with the company’s financial leaders to strategize about investments, end-of-year procedures and new accounting policies.


What qualities make a good Senior Accountant?

A good Senior Accountant has a natural ability to lead, which motivates them to oversee accounting operations and help entry-level accounting professionals develop their skills. They value continued education and continually look for ways to enhance their understanding of accounting software, industry trends and ways to streamline accounting operations. Further, a good Senior Accountant has excellent interpersonal communication, allowing them to adjust their communication tactics depending on whether they’re speaking to accounting staff or company Executives. A good Senior Accountant also has superb attention to detail that helps them catch accounting errors or troubling accounting behaviors.


Who does a Senior Accountant report to?

Senior Accountants usually report to the Accounting or Finance Manager within a corporation. However, they can also report to the Director of Finance or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in smaller corporations. These individuals act as a point of communication for Senior Accountants when they uncover financial issues that could influence the company. Senior Accountants also present information to them about current debts that need to get paid by the end of the year and consult with them about clients who have yet to make their payments.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021