Accounting assistant skills: definition and examples

Updated 29 March 2023

Accounts assistants provide accountants with administrative support and perform certain accounting or bookkeeping tasks. For many accounting assistants, their position also involves training as they may wish to eventually become accountants. If you're an accounting assistant or are interested in becoming one, understanding the necessary skills can be useful. In this article, we explain what accounting assistant skills are, list six key examples and discuss how you can improve them.

What are accounting assistant skills?

Accounting assistant skills are the competencies and attributes which allow these professionals to perform their duties. Accounts assistants typically benefit from a mixture of hard and soft skills to be effective in their roles. Examples of relevant hard skills include an aptitude for numbers, bookkeeping skills, accounting skills and the ability to use software packages. Some soft skills include communication, attention to detail, critical thinking and being organised.

Skills like these help accounts assistants perform a combination of administrative and accounting-related tasks. These tasks can include managing communications and answering questions, maintaining and checking records, liaising with clients and external parties, documentation and chasing debt. Other tasks which are more closely related to bookkeeping or accounting include working with spreadsheets, preparing purchase ledgers and accounts, recording transactions and processing invoices.

Related: How to Write an Accounts Assistant CV

6 examples of accounting assistant skills

Here is a list of six important hard and soft skills which are useful if you're an accounting assistant or wish to become one:


An accounts assistant typically works closely with an accountant, whom they help and who can give them tasks and instructions. Good verbal and written communication skills can help to ensure that this working relationship is as effective as possible. The accounts assistant benefits from being able to clearly understand instructions, take direction, give concise feedback, write reports, liaise with clients and respond to written or verbal queries.

These assistants might also liaise with external suppliers, which makes communication and negotiation skills important. Moreover, good communication and active listening can help the accounts assistant to learn as much as possible while they work, which can help them acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to progress to more advanced roles.

Read more: 4 types of communication (with examples)


Both the accounts assistant's administrative and accounting duties benefit from good organisational skills. This refers to the individual's ability to organise their work, prioritise tasks, maintain a schedule, keep information organised and avoid becoming overwhelmed. An organised professional is also able to track and use their resources efficiently. These skills are useful to an accounts assistant because they often balance competing priorities such as answering calls and emails, preparing accounts and assisting an accountant. Organisational skills can also help them keep clear, legible accounts and spreadsheets.

Read more: What are organisational skills? (Types and examples)

Software skills

Accounting assistants typically use software applications in their daily work. These include common software like word processors, email applications and slideshows. Successful account assistants know how to properly use spreadsheet software, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Although it's possible to work with just one, knowing how to use both is typically going to be an advantage. Other software to be familiar with include bookkeeping and accounting software.

Read more: A step by step guide on how to use QuickBooks, plus benefits


A fundamental hard skill for an accounts assistant is competency with numbers. This is because a significant portion of their work is going to involve numbers, whether it's processing invoices, creating spreadsheets or preparing reports. Although advanced mathematics are typically unnecessary for this work, it's necessary for accounts assistants to be able to make calculations quickly, frequently and without error. Basic knowledge of algebra can also be beneficial for using functions in spreadsheet software. The ability to do mental arithmetic and make estimates can also help accounts assistants spot mistakes and anomalies.

Related: Functional skills: definition, importance and examples

Ability to work under pressure

The work of accountants and related professionals often increases at certain times of the year. This can occur at the end of a financial or tax year and toward the end of every quarter. The main reason for this is that accountants' clients typically require a lot more work during these times. A result of this is increased workloads during these times. Accounts assistants benefit from being able to work under pressure without feeling fatigued or overwhelmed. Good collaboration, time management and multitasking can positively contribute to this.

Related: Interview question: 'How do you work under pressure?'

Knowledge of accounting and finance

Some working knowledge of accounting and finance is typically a prerequisite for this role. This is because accounting assistants often perform basic accounting and bookkeeping work. An understanding of financial management and principles is therefore typically necessary, such as understanding financial risk, investment diversification, the nature of debt and keeping finances organised. It's invaluable to understand bookkeeping and accounting documents, such as balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements, and how to prepare them.

Together with good written communication skills, this can also help accounts assistants when they're compiling and writing reports for other members of staff. Knowledge of these matters is also useful for communicating with clients, understanding their needs and explaining services to new clients.

Related: What is basic accounting (principles, jobs and education)

How to improve accounting skills

Knowing how to develop and improve your skills as an accounts assistant can help you perform better in the role or get the job you want. Here's a list of steps to help you improve these skills:

1. Identify your current skill set

Prior to improving existing skills or developing new ones, it's a good idea to first identify the skills you already have. An effective way of doing this is to first make a list of all of the necessary and desirable skills of an accounts assistant. You can use the list in this article and browse job postings and develop your list from the skills you see in these. Once you have this list, you can rank them from most to least important. You could also split the list into two sections, one each for soft and hard skills.

For example, competency with spreadsheets and knowledge of basic accounting are typically high priorities for an accounts assistant and might be high on your skills list. Some vital soft skills include communication and organisation. Next to each skill, you can write down your competency level, such as basic, intermediate or advanced.

Related: Hard skills vs. soft skills: definition and examples

2. Determine which skills to develop

Based on your list, you now know which skills are worth developing. The more important it is, the sooner you're going to want to improve it. If you have an intermediate skill level in something low on the list but only a basic level for something high on the list, the latter is better to develop first. For example, your list could show you that you have basic knowledge of accounting but advanced written communication skills. Advancing your accounting and bookkeeping knowledge would be a higher priority, as your written communication is already sufficiently developed.

Related: Administrative accountant CV skills

3. Look for courses and tutorials

For hard skills and industry-specific knowledge, a course or tutorials can be an excellent way of developing new competencies. For something like basic accounting and finance, you could look for online courses or even free tutorials and lectures which explain them in sufficient detail. Consider taking notes to help you retain the knowledge and to refer to later. Online courses and free tutorials are also available for learning how to use applications like spreadsheet software.

Read more: 9 of the best online course platforms (with descriptions)

4. Practise

Once you've completed some courses or tutorials for a skill, practise so that you retain the knowledge. For example, if you've learned how to properly use spreadsheet software, you can use it to organise your personal accounts. Every week or month, you can create tables and graphs to track your income and expenditure. In the workplace, try to work on soft skills like communication and collaboration, as this is typically more effective than trying to take a course. If possible, consider asking for feedback from a colleague you respect.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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