Top 5 Career Options for Accounting and Payroll Administrators

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    he most rudimentary origin of accounting dates back thousands of years to Mesopotamia. In terms of modern accounting, however, the primary foundation is attributed to Luca Pacioli. In 1494 the Italian mathematician published a book detailing double-entry bookkeeping that outlined the symbiotic relationship between Debits and Credits. Pacioli was so famous in his time that even Leonardo da Vinci studied mathematics under him.

    While accounting methods have evolved over time and specific standards can vary internationally, the fundamentals remain the same as they were during the Renaissance. Since the dawn of commerce, businesses have needed people to manage their finances. Simply put, where there is business, there is accounting. Having a diploma in the field opens numerous employment opportunities, in an enduring discipline that is never short on demand.

    Many professions took a serious hit during the pandemic, but not so in the realm of accounting. Across Canada, the accounting services industry grew by 8.9 percent to $23.6 billion in 2021. Below are five of the main career paths that fall under the umbrella of Accounting. Despite different focal points, the intertwined concepts allow for smooth transitions between roles. The size of a business is the most influential factor in determining the specialization of its accounting staff. For example, small businesses might have a single person handling every branch, while large organizations have a full department for each branch employing dozens of specialists.

    Accounts Receivable

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    Accounts Receivable (AR) deals with managing and collecting the money that is owed to a business for goods and services that have been provided to customers. Accounts Receivable is the “debit” side of the equation. Job duties include billing, verifying, and posting receipts to customers. Most importantly, AR Clerks ensure that their business gets paid.

    Accounts Payable

    The counterpoint to Accounts Receivable is Accounts Payable (AP). This side manages the money owed by the business to its suppliers and creditors. These short-term obligations are considered “credits” or liabilities for the company. The job duties include receiving, processing, and making payments on vendor invoices.

    Payroll Clerk

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    While both AR and AP focus on external entities, Payroll Clerks deal with a company’s largest internal cost. Across Canada, it is estimated that labour costs comprise an average of 70 percent of expenses for businesses. Properly compensating employees is the end result, but that comes from diligent verification of timesheets, maintaining the payroll system, managing benefits, applying deductions, and more.


    Bookkeepers oversee and record all relevant financial data within an organization. This includes Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Payroll. In the short-term, they are responsible for daily accounting entries and reconciliations. Longer-term they handle monthly financial reporting and general ledger entries.

    Accounting Administrator

    Accounting Administrators and Accounting Assistants have very similar duties and their titles are sometimes used interchangeably. Their primary job is to analyze the information compiled from bookkeeping and to apply it practically. This typically takes the form of converting data into specialized reports, preparing financial statements, forecasting, budgeting, formulating tax returns, reconciling discrepancies, and resolving disputes. Where bookkeeping is careful compilation of raw data, accounting is the insight and assessment thereof. In general terms, they ensure an efficient and accurate flow of cash within the business.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    How much do Accounting and Payroll Administrators typically earn?

    • The average anticipated salary range for Canada is between $56,000 and $71,000 per annum. This varies by region, company size, and scope of the position.

    How long does it take to earn an Accounting and Payroll Diploma?

    • The online Accounting and Payroll Diploma at ABM College consists of 51 weeks of online classes, followed by 4 weeks in a local practicum to earn hands-on training.

    Why do businesses need Accounting?

    • There are numerous reasons 一 It is the best way to keep them financially organized, guide decision-making, cut costs, manage expenses, and accurately measure the impact of new strategies. It is also required for loans and investments.

    What are some of the most popular accounting software suites?

    • Intuit QuickBooks, Sage 50cloud, Wave Accounting, FreshBooks, and Zoho Books. Each has its own style, but the core functionality is the same. Even Excel can handle the basics for personal bookkeeping, but it is lacking for anything more complicated.

    Final Thoughts

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    Due to their similarity, all of the above have at least some natural overlap of their duties. Comprehensive Accounting and Payroll Administration Diplomas cover the skill sets necessary to pursue any (or all) of the aforementioned careers.

    If number crunching is your specialty, you can’t go wrong selecting a stable career path that has been in high demand for centuries. As the pandemic proved once again, businesses require financial management regardless of the economy’s current state of health.

    While a dependable career is rewarding on its own, there are also personal benefits to mastering accounting skills. With tax season just around the corner again wouldn’t it be nice to save time and money by taking full control over your financial future?

    Fascinated by finance, but accounting isn’t the right fit? Financial Planners share similar talents, but they focus more directly on the strategies and tactics that will plot the course for future investments. If your passion is less numerically focused, Business Administration also offers a solid grounding in accounting, but covers a broader range of operational knowledge relevant to multiple departments.

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    You can also read more industry-relevant blogs here.

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