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Occupation description

Accounts officers arrange the payment of bills and accounts. Depending on the size of the organisation, accounts officers may do some or all of the following activities: handle general accounts queries; arrange payment of bills and accounts; check and bank payments; keep records of financial transactions; keep records of costs such as labour and materials; and compare costs with budgets. In larger organisations, accounts officers may specialise in a particular area, such as:

  • accounts receivable: collecting and recording payments that come into the organisation
  • accounts payable: organising the payment of invoices on behalf of the organisation
  • credit control: ensuring that money owed to the organisation, by outside companies and contractors, gets paid

Knowledge, skills and attributes

Accounts officers need to understand key accounting concepts, be familiar with financial reporting systems and understand goods and services taxes. They also need mathematical ability, knowledge of computer and accounting software, record keeping skills and communication skills.  Accounts officers need to be honest, accurate, with an eye for detail, organised and able to keep information confidential.

Working conditions

Accounts officers generally work in office environments and work during standard business hours. Occasionally, you may have to work extra hours during busy times. Part-time work is common within this profession. The work of accounts officers is usually supervised by accountants and their client contact is usually by telephone/email.

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

Although it is possible to work as an accounts clerk without formal qualifications, your chances of gaining employment may be improved if you have completed a certificate or diploma in business, accounting or financial services. Organisations will require completion of relevant secondary school qualifications as a minimum. They may also require proof that you have good maths and data entry skills. Experience in accounting, clerical work or bookkeeping are desirable in this career.

In Australia the Certificate III in Business and Certificate III in Financial Services (Accounts Clerical) are widely available and teach the skills required to maintain financial records and prepare financial reports.

Some rail organisations may provide an opportunity to become a qualified accounts officer through a traineeship in financial services. For more information, visit the sites below.

The value of a career in the rail industry

For even more details on what you might earn, the diversity of companies you could work for and the career opportunities available, visit the following careers and training websites. Careers in Rail by the Australasian Railway Association; About the Rail Industry by Rail Skills Australasia and Rail Training by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC).

For more information

Career paths

Demand for people with skills in accounts receivable and payable, appears to remain high regardless of financial downturns in the Australian and New Zealand economies.

Typically, you would start in an entry level role such as an accounts assistant and then with some experience and training become an accounts officer. To succeed in more senior roles, you would need to undertake further study such as accounting (specifically financial or management accounting). If the organisation is large, there may be some middle management opportunities.

This information is generic.  Job titles and the experience and qualifications needed to move into other jobs may vary slightly from state to state depending on the structure and needs of your organisation, and government rules and regulations.

Related Jobs

The jobs below may require additional qualifications as well as experience.

Career Path Flowchart

Typical career path for an accounts officer