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General Ledger Accountant: Job Description & Requirements

Read on to learn what general ledger accountants do. See what kind of education and training are required. Get the details about career prospects and earning potential, too.

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Career Definition

A general ledger accountant is an accountant responsible for ensuring that transactions of a business have been properly accounted for and accurately reflect the company's accounting process. The general ledger is the end result of a company's accounting, and so is needed by every business - large and small - in the United States. General ledger accountants often possess the skills to work as other types of accountants, including corporate accountants, property accountants, and financial reporting accountants. General ledger accountants are also qualified to work in auditing or start their own, independent firm.

Become a General Ledger Accountant

Required Education

A college degree in business or accounting is most often required of a general ledger accountant job. Further, most general ledger accountants are CPAs. That being said, it's possible to obtain an entry-level position with experience in accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll or bookkeeping if you are still pursuing a degree in accounting. However, companies may give preference to a CPA or CPA candidate, which involves at least 24 semester credits in accounting subjects and passing the CPA exam.

Skills Required

General ledger accountants must be familiar with general accounting, payroll, bookkeeping, basic computer skills, working in teams (especially in larger companies), and working alone under self-direction. The general ledger accountant must also have good communication skills, as the position has contacts with various levels within the organization, as well as customers, government agencies, and banks.

Career and Economic Outlook

General ledger accountants are usually in demand, as they are needed by every business, and employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 13% from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov); this rate is a little better than the average across all occupations. The median salary of accountants and auditors was $63,550 in 2012, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help an organization come up with a budget and create smaller budgets, such as for departments or programs. They help monitor existing budgets and budget reporting, review requests for funding, and make financial projections based on budget numbers. This career requires a bachelor's or master's degree; candidates with coursework in statistics or accounting may have better job prospects. The Certified Government Financial Manager credential is available to federal budget analysts. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 6% from 2012-2022, and it also reports that budget analysts earned a median pay of $69,280 in 2012.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts research various investment vehicles and their projected future performance along with historical and current economic and financial data. They use their knowledge to make investment recommendations for clients, who may be companies or individuals. It's possible to get a job with a bachelor's degree but a graduate degree is usually required for advancement. Professional certification may be required, which includes a combination of education, work experience, and testing. Financial analysts are commonly required to earn Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licensing. The BLS projects that jobs for financial analysts will increase 16% from 2012-2022, a faster-than-average rate. The BLS also reports that financial analysts earned a median pay of $76,950 in 2012.

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