Explore Careers by Essential Skills
The essential skills profiles can:
- Help determine, based on skill sets, which career may best suit a particular individual.
- Assist job seekers to write a résumé or prepare for a job interview.
- Help employers to create a job posting.
Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Accounting and Related Clerks (NOC 1431)
Accounting and related clerks calculate, prepare and process bills, invoices, accounts payable and receivable, budgets and other routine financial records according to established procedures.
- Read short notes from co-workers, e.g. read notes from co-workers to learn how to process routine payables. (1)
- Read short text entries on forms, e.g. read short comments on invoices to learn about discounts for early payments. (1)
- May read brochures, information releases and newsletters, e.g. read brochures to learn about computer software. (2)
- Read memos and bulletins, e.g. read internal memos to learn about changes to accounting practices and bulletins issued by governments to learn which goods and services are exempt from harmonized sales taxes (HST). (2)
- Read email and letters from customers, suppliers and co-workers, e.g. read email from suppliers requesting payment information on overdue accounts. (2)
- Read a variety of policy and procedure manuals, e.g. read procedure manuals for step-by-step instructions to learn how cheques with insufficient funds are handled. (3)
- Read computer instruction manuals, e.g. read accounting software manuals and help files to learn how to generate financial reports. (3)
- Locate data, such as names, dates, codes and dollar values, on file tabs, computer screens and daily control logs. (1)
- Enter data into a variety of forms, e.g. enter amounts into account ledgers and names, addresses, times and account numbers into cheque request and credit application forms. (2)
- Locate data in a variety of lists and tables, e.g. locate names, dates, times and amounts on lists of overdue accounts. (2)
- Locate data in complex ledgers and financial statements, e.g. scan complex ledgers to locate errors and omissions. (3)
- May complete complex forms, such as tax adjustment application forms and harmonized sales tax (HST) exemption forms. (3)
- Write reminders and short notes to co-workers, e.g. write notes to co-workers to inform them about non-balancing accounts. (1)
- Write comments in the remarks sections of forms, e.g. write notes on invoices outlining the actions to be taken on outstanding accounts. (1)
- May write email and short letters, e.g. write email messages to supervisors to explain the results of applications for tax adjustment. (2)
- May write detailed letters and memos, e.g. they may write internal memos to provide co-workers with detailed instructions on how to complete travel claim forms. (3)
- May write procedures, e.g. write procedures for co-workers that outline interdepartmental billing procedures. (3)
- Calculate the amount owing on accounts and amount owing to customers. (1)
- Calculate fees and penalties, e.g. calculate amounts for late charges using amounts owing and interest rates. (2)
- May calculate and verify invoice and receipt amounts. They calculate amounts for goods and services, determine discounts and surcharges, and add federal and provincial sales taxes. (3)
- Record amounts payable and receivable against various accounts in general ledgers. (1)
- Compare transactions listed on bank statements to journal entries to identify errors and reconcile accounts. (2)
- May monitor budgets, e.g. compare purchases of office supplies to office supply budgets and adjust spending as required. (2)
- May calculate time intervals and identify dates for a variety of schedules and timetables, e.g. schedule payments of vendors to avoid late penalties. (3)
- May reconcile and review monthly financial statements including balance sheets, income and expense statements and cash flow statements. (4)
- May count and sum totals, e.g. tally office supplies for inventory counts. (1)
- Compare expenses to budgets, e.g. compare office supply purchases to budgets to determine whether expenditures are within limits. (1)
- Calculate summary averages, such as the average monthly costs of office supplies, for use in cost projections. (2)
- Estimate times to complete job tasks using past experience as a guide, e.g. estimate the number of hours needed to post entries in general ledgers. (1)
- Estimate cash balances and expenditures that will accrue in financial periods. (2)
Read and write, count, round off, add or subtract, multiply or divide whole numbers, e.g. calculate inventory counts and tally the number of overdue accounts.
Read and write, add or subtract, multiply or divide integers, e.g. use integers in credit and debit calculations.
Read and write, add or subtract fractions, multiply or divide by a fraction, multiply or divide fractions, e.g. multiply by fractions to convert weekly costs to daily costs and to calculate monthly payments.
Read and write, round off, add or subtract decimals, multiply or divide by a decimal, multiply or divide decimals. Use decimals mainly to refer to dollars and cents, e.g. use decimals to sum amounts on purchase orders, calculate commissions and complete bank deposits.
Read and write percentages, calculate percentages, e.g. calculate taxes, bank and investment interest, rebates and discount amounts.
Equivalent Rational Numbers
Convert between decimals and percentages, e.g. convert between percentages and decimals when calculating dollar amounts for rebates and discounts.
Equations and Formulae
Use formulae by inserting quantities for variables and solving, e.g. calculate the return on investment (ROI) of assets; calculate amortizations using formulae.
Perform measurement conversions, e.g. convert metres to yards for products purchased.
Calculate averages, rates other than percentages and proportions or ratios, e.g. calculate average sales figures; calculate course and program cost to participant ratios.
- Time, using watches, clocks and calendars.
- Weight or mass, using scales.
- Distance or dimension, using rulers and tape measures.
- Leave and listen to messages, e.g. leave voicemail messages for customers to request information, such as mailing addresses. (1)
- Talk with suppliers, e.g. speak with suppliers to enquire about products and verify invoice amounts. (1)
- Exchange information with co-workers, e.g. speak with supervisors to obtain approvals and to discuss customer accounts. (2)
- Talk to customers to follow up on overdue accounts, arrange payments, answer customer enquiries and discuss disagreements about accounts. (2)
- Participate in staff meetings to discuss problems and new policies, and to exchange opinions on current procedures. (2)
- May speak with collection agencies, e.g. speak with collection agencies about the particulars of overdue accounts. (2)
- Discuss the interpretation of tax laws and generally accepted accounting principles with government agents and accountants, e.g. speak with government agents to determine why goods and services tax (GST) refunds were lower than anticipated and with accountants to verify how to treat expense items. (2)
- Encounter delays due to equipment faults, e.g. discover that they cannot access accounting software because of faulty intranet systems. They contact supervisors and technology support staff to inform them of the glitches. They perform other work until the necessary applications are usable. (1)
- Discover that financial records are inaccurate, incomplete and missing, e.g. discover that they are missing invoices to match expenditures shown on bank statements. They speak with suppliers and co-workers to identify purchases made and seek assistance in obtaining copies of missing invoices. (2)
- Decide the order of tasks and their priorities, e.g. decide the order in which to pay invoices and complete tasks, such as reconciliations. (2)
- May select suppliers, e.g. decide which suppliers to use for the purchase of supplies, such as forms, binders and writing instruments. (2)
- May select payment schedules for clients with overdue accounts. They consider factors, such as amounts owed and their firms¿ histories with the clients. (2)
- May choose or recommend methods and procedures for handling delinquent accounts. They may write off bad debts, use collection agencies or pursue debtors in small claims courts. They need to consider several factors to make appropriate choices. (3)
- Assess the accuracy and reasonableness of financial reports generated using accounting software. They compare data to previous reports and use their experience to identify potential errors. (2)
- Evaluate the reasonableness of expense claims and invoices. They compare fees and costs to industry standards and price lists to isolate potentially erroneous and fraudulent charges. (2)
- May evaluate the suitability of bookkeeping methods. They consider a number of factors including taxation laws and rates, generally accepted accounting principles and the scope of business operations. (3)
Accounting and related clerks organize their tasks to deal with the days¿ priorities. They respond to urgent special requests, while keeping in mind the need to complete routine tasks on schedule. Routine tasks include paying invoices by specified dates and producing month-end reports. (2)Significant Use of Memory
- Memorize general ledger and project codes that are used to gain access to account information.
- Remember detailed procedures relating to term discounts and volume rebates.
- Remember deadlines for remittances and inter-office financial reports.
- Remember a variety of requests from customers, brokers, suppliers and other departments in order to respond to their questions.
- Locate information about customers by reviewing financial statements, files and reports and by speaking with co-workers. (2)
- Check accounts for accuracy and resolve discrepancies in financial records by consulting invoices and other documents in the files, using computer systems and archives and by seeking required information from co-workers and staff in other departments. (3)
- May use basic features of word processing programs to write letters and memos. (2)
- May use databases to enter and retrieve sales and costs. (2)
- May use databases to create mailing lists. (2)
- Use spreadsheets to track expenditures, such as costs for office supplies and the amortization of office equipment. (2)
- Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to record financial transactions. (1)
- May use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to prepare pay cheques, invoices and generate monthly financial statements, such as balance sheets and income and expense statements. (3)
- Use intranets and email applications to exchange information and documents with co-workers, customers, suppliers, manufacturers and the Canada Revenue Agency. (2)
- May use browsers to access the Canada Revenue Agency website to submit financial information and get a variety of forms, schedules and guides. (2)
- May use browsers and search engines to locate product information from suppliers, such as the cost of supplies. (2)
- May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by suppliers, employers and trainers. (2)
- Use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as summing figures and calculating interest charges. (1)
Working with Others
Accounting and related clerks mainly work independently. They work with others when assisting accountants and when working with partners to complete routine tasks. They may be members of administrative and office support teams, working together to ensure that services are provided efficiently.Continuous Learning
Accounting and related clerks have an ongoing need to learn. They must keep current with changes to accounting software, Canada Revenue Agency guidelines and generally accepted accounting principles.The following information was also collected for this Essential Skills Profile:
Digital Skill Requirements
The use of bookkeeping, billing and accounting software is now prevalent across all industry sectors. Accounting and related clerks require advanced computer skills to operate this software. They also need a broad range of other computer skills to access information from the Internet and communicate with customers, suppliers and co-workers.
Impact of Digital Technology
All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Accounting and related clerks' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication skills. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. For example, the use of bookkeeping, billing and accounting software is now prevalent across all industry sectors. Accounting and related clerks require advanced computer skills to operate this software. They also need a broad range of other computer skills to access information from the Internet and communicate with customers, suppliers and co-workers. For instance, workers may use browsers to access the Canada Revenue Agency website to submit financial information and get a variety of forms, schedules and guides. Workers also have the opportunity to obtain information by viewing multimedia presentations available in DVD and online formats, or to develop communication skills by accessing customer service training using videos, DVDs and Web-based applications.
Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. Workers need the skills to use increasingly complex technology, such as multifunctional accounting applications. At the same time, software and hardware developers are improving ease of use for workers through touch-screen technology, built-in self-help tutorials and more user-friendly software applications. For example, the use of electronic databases and keyword search functions makes it easier to create mailing lists, and enter and retrieve sales and costs. Tasks done manually, such as entering dates, times and amounts into forms, are completed with speed and accuracy using specialized accounting software. More specifically, workers may use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to prepare pay cheques, invoices and generate monthly financial statements, such as balance sheets and income and expense statements.
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