How do I Become a School Accountant?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2018
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In most places, becoming an accountant requires more than just being good with numbers. Usually, one must have a degree in accounting to become a school accountant, and exam-based certification is frequently also required. While some schools offer entry-level accounting positions, most want accountants with at least some work experience.

The first thing to consider in order to become a school accountant is your education. Accounting is a relatively exclusive career path in most places. Although the accounting field is broad, the kind of work that accountants do—preparing finance reports, for instance, and assuring tax compliance—is often considered complex and nuanced. Most accountants hold at least a bachelor’s degrees in finance, business, or accounting, and many also hold advanced degrees in the same areas.

If you have not yet finished your bachelor’s degree, or have yet to embark on college or university studies, a major course of study in finance or accounting is a first step on the road to becoming a school accountant. Some schools have fast-track business and accounting programs for undergraduates. Many schools offer accounting degree programs online at both the undergraduate and graduate level as well. Online classes can be a good option for students who already hold a preliminary degree in a field other than accounting or for busy professionals looking for a career switch.


In many cases, an accounting degree is only a first step. Most accountants who regularly represent companies in tax filings and official paperwork must be certified by the local government. Certification typically requires an exam, as well as periodic continuing professional education credits. It is a good idea to seek certification if you are looking to become a school accountant. Although certification is not required for all accounting jobs, it lends credibility to your skills and often also leads to a larger salary.

Few accounting degree programs offer exclusive school accountant training. In most cases, what it takes to become a school accountant is broad knowledge of how accounting processes run. On the inside, schools are often little more than nuanced businesses. School accountants handle expense accounts, allocate finances to different departments, manage payroll, and handle tuition receipt, if applicable. They file taxes and manage legal audit compliance requirements and are present in all sorts of institutions, from parish schools and elementary schools to state and private universities.

Although quite a lot depends on the size of the institution, most schools maintain only small accounting staffs, often no more than two or three people. Particularly in state-funded schools, there simply are not enough resources to maintain large accounting departments. As such, schools often look for accountants with established expertise to join their teams. Many schools lack the basic resources to train new accountants in what it takes to become a school accountant and prefer for their accountants to come in with at least a basic sense of what to expect.

The majority of established school accountants began their careers in general accounting firms or worked for larger clients. Almost any work with tax, business planning, account training, or internal business management can be applied to a school accounting scenario. The key is to establish a robust and accomplished portfolio of skills.

Keeping an open eye for school accounting jobs can help you get a sense of what is available. If you meet the job requirement's descriptions, or if you are close, apply. Even if you do not get the job. you can use the opportunity as a way to open up conversations with employers about what it takes to become a school accountant, as well as glean tips of how you could make your next application even stronger.



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