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What is a senior accountant? How do you become one?

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A senior accountant is responsible for reporting on an organization's or department's margins, expenditures, productivity, and reporting costs. Once one becomes a senior accountant, that person is often no longer required to complete some of the administrative tasks — such as gathering data or inserting information into balance sheets — that he or she may have completed as a junior accountant.

One of the major responsibilities of a senior accountant is to participate in company audits. Companies trust senior accountants to provide meticulously researched and vetted information to ensure the company's leaders are able to make important financial decisions based on accurate numbers and recommendations.

In larger organizations, senior accountants are frequently given managerial positions in which they oversee the work of other accountants. This added responsibility requires a senior accountant to be skilled in interpersonal communication and group problem-solving as well as good with numbers and data.

To become a senior accountant, one must have a four-year accounting degree from an accredited university. Many senior accountants continue their schooling to obtain master's degrees. They also often become certified public accountants (CPAs). 

There is no specific time frame in which an accountant becomes a senior accountant, but it typically takes around four or five years on the job to reach senior accountant status within an organization.

An accountant increases his or her probability of being promoted to a senior accountant if he or she can show proficiency and growth in a number of skill areas. For example, a senior accountant must be highly organized and detail-oriented. The accountant also must have proven he or she is able to work collaboratively with many different types of employees. The accountant's problem-solving and analytical skills should be highly regarded and the accountant must stay up-to-date on accounting software and programs.

A senior accountant can expect to earn higher wages than a junior accountant, but the exact wage earned often depends on the organization's size and its commitment to compensating talented employees. Organizations that highly value the skills of a senior accountant may pay as much as $90,000 per year. The low end of the pay scale for senior accountants is between $60,000 and $65,000 per year.