Good staff accountants have a head for numbers. They enjoy working with figures and categorizing income and expenses for a business, government agency or nonprofit organization. As a staff accountant, you need to be upbeat and positive when interacting with co-workers or managers. Research skills are at the top of the list for a good staff accountant.
A good staff accountant is accurate when dealing with numbers. Because errors can occur wherever people are involved, a characteristic of a good staff accountant requires her to spot and correct any accounting errors. She has developed the ability to easily find errors and make the adjusting entries without being negative about the mistake. Whether the mistake was hers or not, a good staff accountant doesn't get uptight or defensive about errors, because she understands the bottom line is the need for accuracy.
Her communication skills are top-notch; she gets along with everyone. She communicates easily with co-workers in the accounting department or helps answer questions posed by other co-workers clearly and succinctly. She can interact and communicate with anyone from all levels of the company; people feel comfortable in her presence. She doesn't turn people off by being negative, snappy or authoritarian.
Analysis and Research
The good staff accountant knows how to complete research accurately and then analyze the researched material in a format that others can understand. For example, she might need to work with managers to create department budgets and make projections about income or expenses. She prepares extensive reports based upon her analysis and research of accounting figures.
As a team player, the staff accountant works well with her teammates. She contributes her thoughts and ideas and supports her teammates accordingly. She sets a standard for a good work ethic and others follow her lead. Teammates often turn to her for inspiration and support. She's knowledgeable about company policies and procedures and shares this knowledge freely with her teammates.
Accounting Rules and Theories
Most staff accountants are generalists who oversee or complete a variety of accounting tasks for a business or organization. She stays abreast of general accepted accounting principles, known in the industry as GAAP; she refreshes her knowledge as needed by continuing her education or attending conferences, workshops and seminars. She's a valuable asset to the company or organization for which she works.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics places the median annual wage for accountants in 2010 at $61,690 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned $38,940 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,880 in that same period. The bureau reports continued growth at 16 percent from 2010 through 2020 for accountants, about the average for all occupations.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.