There are career paths that can lead to or stem from an Accounts Payable position. Many of the different tools and training required for an Accounts Payable position, are similar to other positions that one may be willing to branch into.
A variety of accounting, management, customer service, or procurement positions, have overlapping skills and requirements. This makes it an easier jump from one position to the other.
My journey into Accounts Payable came after 15 years in general accounting and financial reporting roles with 6 years Accounts Receivable sprinkled in. When I started focusing on vendors – I found my place in this world.
When we examine the different educational disciplines that are involved with an accounts payable position, we can gain a greater understanding into why there are so many avenues to take.
A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in: business, accounting, payroll accounting, finance, etc., are a great leg up amongst the competition as it relates to filling this important role. Though a degree or certificate may be a requirement for most companies, there are exceptions to the rule. Check out my first episode of the Putting the AP in hAPpy Podcast to learn more about Accounts Payable Certifications and the organizations that issue them.
One example of an exception, is being hired and trained from within to fill this position should the need arise. This is particularly true for smaller companies. There are also lower level positions that only require a High School diploma and a certain level of hands on experience.
Numbers and Customers
There are two important skills that any of the aforementioned careers require. Those would be being good with numbers, and knowing how to work effectively with customers.
When it comes down to getting a job, these two skills might not be as much of a factor as say, a degree or a certificate. However, these both will determine how effective, efficient, and successful you become at reaching the best outcomes for the situations that come and go.
Working with Numbers
If you’re good with numbers, that end of the position will be far simpler than those who tend to struggle. Any of these positions can be performed by people whose strong suit does not rest on working with numbers- but it will be more difficult and taxing on that person in the end.
Working with Customers
If you’re good with customers, you’ll prove to be more successful at working with :
Vendors to get their invoices paid and pay off your company’s debt-Accounts Payable
Customers to Pay their debts on time- Accounts Receivable
Get better deals from vendor for products and services- Procurement Positions
Work together and find solutions for issues-Management
Great customer service skills can save a company a good deal of money at the end of the day, no matter if you’re working your way into, or coming out of, an accounts payable position. This skill when polished plays a crucial role in any growth a business wishes to achieve.
On the Other end of the Phone is another human. The better you are able to work with that person, the better experience it is all the way around, and the better it reflects upon you.
In or Out of Accounts Payable
If you’re looking to advance into an accounts payable position, examine whether or not you have the right tools for the job (various levels of experience, education, skills, etc.). Need more information on Accounts Payable, skills, titles and salaries? Check out the data from Robert Half’s Salary Guide 2019:
If you’re looking to step out of an accounts payable position, and into any of the others mentioned (as well as any that were not mentioned), take stock into what you are bringing with you to the table. You may be surprised at how many skills and tools you already have at your disposal - qualifying you for the position.
For me? Help Accounts Payable Teams Protect The Vendor Master File From Fraud – that’s my chosen career path and calling.
#stayhappy #puttingtheapinhappy #apcareer
Debra R. Richardson,
MBA, APM, APPM, CPRS
Debra is an accounts payable speaker, consultant, and trainer with over 20 years of experience in AP, AR, general ledger, and financial reporting for Fortune 500 companies including Verizon, General Motors and Aramark.
For the past eight years, Debra has focused on Global Vendor Maintenance, and implemented a vendor self-registration portal for 140k+ global vendors across five Accounting Systems/ERPs. In her consultancy, she focuses on internal controls and authentication to prevent fraud in the vendor master file.
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