How to Become an Accounts Payable Clerk (Dare to Debit!)

how to become an accounts payable clerk

If you’ve ever envisioned yourself managing company finances or pondered about the steps to become an Accounts Payable Clerk, you’ve landed on the right page.

In this guide, we will navigate through the EXACT steps you need to undertake to kickstart your career as an Accounts Payable Clerk. We will be discussing:

  • The skills required to excel in this role.
  • The education and qualifications that can boost your chances.
  • Strategies to secure a job as an Accounts Payable Clerk.

So, whether you’re new to the world of finance or an experienced professional seeking to advance your career, stay with us.

We’re about to outline the roadmap to becoming an Accounts Payable Clerk.

Let’s dive in!

Contents show

Steps to Become an Accounts Payable Clerk


Step 1: Understand the Role of an Accounts Payable Clerk

Before you decide to pursue a career as an Accounts Payable Clerk, it’s crucial to understand the role.

Accounts Payable Clerks are mainly responsible for handling company expenditure.

They manage all outgoing payments, such as payments to vendors, suppliers, and other operational expenses.

The role often involves processing invoices, keeping records, and interacting with vendors to ensure all financial obligations are met on time.

This role requires a high level of attention to detail and strong organizational skills, as accuracy in bookkeeping is crucial.

It also involves a significant amount of data entry and verification.

Therefore, familiarity with accounting software and strong computer skills are a must.

Additionally, Accounts Payable Clerks often interact with other departments within the organization, such as procurement and budgeting, to clarify invoice details and resolve discrepancies.

Hence, good communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively are also important.

Understanding these responsibilities and skills can help you decide if this career path aligns with your interests and strengths.


Step 2: Obtain Relevant Education

In order to pursue a career as an Accounts Payable Clerk, you will need to have an adequate education background.

Most employers require at least a high school diploma or equivalent, but an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field will greatly improve your job prospects.

Courses in bookkeeping, accounting, business mathematics, and business law can provide foundational knowledge for this role.

While in school, focus on gaining a solid understanding of accounting principles, particularly those related to accounts payable.

You will need to understand how to manage invoices, track expenses, and process payments.

You may also find it beneficial to take courses in computer software as many businesses use digital systems for their accounts payable.

Further, getting a certification like the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers can also make you stand out to employers.

Remember, the more education and certifications you have, the more prepared you will be for the job and the more attractive you will be to potential employers.


Step 3: Gain Proficiency in Accounting Software

As an Accounts Payable Clerk, you will be expected to be proficient in different accounting software used by businesses.

Accounting software like QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP are often used by companies to manage their accounts payable and other accounting processes.

Learning how to use these systems effectively can make you a more valuable employee and increase your efficiency at work.

You can find courses online or at local community colleges that can teach you how to use these applications.

Besides the basic functionality, you should also learn how to use the advanced features of these systems.

This includes generating financial reports, setting up automated payments, and reconciling bank statements.

By mastering these skills, you can handle a wider range of tasks and responsibilities in your role as an Accounts Payable Clerk.

It’s also a good idea to keep up with the latest trends and developments in accounting software technology.

The accounting industry is always evolving, and staying up-to-date can help you adapt to changes and perform your job better.


Step 4: Develop Key Skills

As an Accounts Payable Clerk, you’ll need to develop certain skills that will help you succeed in your role.

These skills include accuracy, attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

You’ll be working with numbers and calculations on a daily basis, so strong numerical skills are also crucial.

Being proficient in certain software applications, such as Microsoft Excel and accounting software such as QuickBooks, can be a significant asset as well.

Most companies use computerized systems for their accounting and invoicing, so being comfortable with technology is a must.

Additionally, develop your communication skills, both written and verbal.

You will often need to communicate with vendors, suppliers or internal departments to resolve invoice discrepancies or other payment issues.

It could also be beneficial to learn the basics of business law and regulations, particularly those related to finance and accounting, as they are often relevant to the work of an Accounts Payable Clerk.

Lastly, the ability to maintain confidentiality is paramount in this role, as you’ll be dealing with sensitive financial information.

Whether you’re self-taught, taking a course, or acquiring these skills on the job, mastering these areas will make you a more effective and valuable Accounts Payable Clerk.


Step 5: Obtain Work Experience

Gaining practical work experience is crucial for aspiring Accounts Payable Clerks.

You can start by applying for entry-level jobs, internships, or co-op roles in accounting or finance departments of various organizations.

These initial experiences will provide you with firsthand knowledge and understanding of day-to-day operations of accounting and how transactions are processed.

During this phase, you will learn how to manage invoices, review financial statements, resolve discrepancies, and interact with vendors.

In addition, you’ll gain experience in using accounting software and systems which are essential tools for an Accounts Payable Clerk.

Continued work experience not only enhances your skills but also makes your resume more attractive to prospective employers.

It’s also beneficial to work in different industries to get a broader view of how accounts payable processes might differ.

Remember, every bit of experience counts.

Even if the role isn’t directly related to Accounts Payable, any financial administrative role will contribute valuable experience and skills that can be transferred to an Accounts Payable role in the future.


Step 6: Consider Certification

Getting certified as an Accounts Payable Clerk can give you a competitive edge in the job market.

While it’s not a mandatory requirement, having a certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession and your expertise in the field.

There are several certifications you can consider.

The American Accounts Payable Association (AAPA) offers a Certified Accounts Payable Professional (CAPP) certification which is recognized widely in the industry.

Similarly, the Institute of Financial Operations provides a Certified Accounts Payable Associate (CAPA) certification which is also considered valuable.

These certification programs typically cover key areas such as accounts payable processing, vendor management, invoice verification, and payment systems.

They may also include other areas like financial reporting and internal controls.

To earn these certifications, you may need to pass an examination and have a certain amount of work experience in accounts payable.

Remember, getting certified not only enhances your job prospects but also opens up opportunities for higher-paying roles and leadership positions in the future.

It is therefore a worthwhile investment in your professional development.


Step 7: Network in the Field

As an Accounts Payable Clerk, one of the key steps to advancing your career is networking with professionals in your field.

This can be accomplished through various methods such as attending industry conferences, joining accounting or finance organizations, participating in workshops or seminars, or even becoming a member of online finance forums or communities.

Networking not only offers you the chance to learn from experienced professionals in your field but can also open doors for job opportunities.

Often, companies prefer to hire based on recommendations, so building a strong network can give you an edge when seeking new roles.

Remember, networking is not just about taking; it’s about giving as well.

Be ready to offer assistance, share your knowledge, and make introductions when you can.

Show genuine interest in others and their work.

Additionally, maintaining a professional online presence on social media platforms like LinkedIn can also help you connect with industry professionals and stay informed about the latest developments in the field.

You can share relevant articles, participate in discussions, and showcase your expertise in accounts payable.

Networking should be a continuous effort and not just something you do when you need a job.

It’s about building long-term relationships and a positive reputation within your professional community.


Step 8: Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter

After gaining the necessary knowledge, skills and experience, the next step is to prepare your resume and cover letter.

Both documents should be tailored specifically for the role of an Accounts Payable Clerk and should highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments.

Your resume should include key sections such as your contact information, objective or professional summary, work experience, education, and skills.

When detailing your work experience, start with your most recent position and work backwards, noting key responsibilities and achievements in each role.

In the skills section, be sure to include both hard and soft skills.

For an Accounts Payable Clerk, key hard skills might include proficiency in accounting software, data entry, and familiarity with invoices and payments.

Important soft skills could involve attention to detail, communication, and organization.

Your cover letter, on the other hand, should not simply restate your resume.

Instead, use it as an opportunity to explain why you are interested in the position and how your skills and experiences make you an ideal candidate.

Be sure to provide specific examples of how you’ve used your skills in past roles.

Remember, both your resume and cover letter should be proofread thoroughly to avoid any mistakes, as this can reflect poorly on your attention to detail.

Also, ensure your documents are formatted consistently and look professional, as this can give a good first impression to employers.


Step 9: Apply for Positions

After acquiring the necessary education, skills, and experience, start searching and applying for Accounts Payable Clerk positions.

Use online job search platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and others to find potential employers.

Review job postings carefully and tailor your resume and cover letter to match the specific requirements of each role.

Highlight your knowledge of accounts payable principles, your proficiency with relevant software, and any experience you have that aligns with the position’s duties.

Network with professionals in the field either online or at industry events to increase your chances of finding job opportunities.

Also, consider registering with a staffing agency that specializes in financial and accounting roles, as they often have relationships with companies looking for accounts payable clerks.

When you receive an invitation for an interview, prepare adequately.

Familiarize yourself with common interview questions for Accounts Payable Clerks and rehearse your responses.

Also, do research on the company to show your interest in the role and present how your skills and experiences would add value to their business.

Remember that the job application process can be competitive and may take time.

Stay patient, persistent, and open to feedback.

Continue improving your skills and expanding your knowledge base while you search for an appropriate position.


Step 10: Stay Current with Accounting Practices

As an Accounts Payable Clerk, it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest accounting practices.

This includes changes to governmental regulations, tax laws, and industry standards that may affect how you perform your duties.

You should continuously strive to improve your knowledge and skills in order to increase your efficiency and accuracy at work.

Consider subscribing to accounting magazines or trade publications, joining professional accounting organizations, and attending conferences or seminars.

These can be excellent sources of information and provide opportunities for networking and professional development.

In addition, consider seeking out continued education opportunities.

Many community colleges and universities offer courses in advanced accounting or finance.

Taking these courses can help you learn about the newest accounting software, methods, and procedures.

Staying current with accounting practices also means staying updated with technology.

With the increasing digitization of financial transactions, understanding the latest software, tools, and platforms used in accounting is crucial.

You may need to learn how to use new software or update your skills as new versions are released.

Remember, as an Accounts Payable Clerk, your role isn’t static.

It evolves with the industry and the economic climate, so continuous learning and staying current with accounting practices is a critical step in your professional journey.



Accounts Payable Clerk Roles and Responsibilities

Accounts Payable Clerks are responsible for ensuring that a company’s bills are paid in a timely and accurate manner.

They work with vendors, keep track of financial records, and manage any issues related to billing or payments.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Processing Invoices

  • Review and verify invoices and check requests.
  • Sort, code and match invoices.
  • Set invoices up for payment.


Vendor Management

  • Maintain vendor files and correspond with vendors to resolve any invoice discrepancies.
  • Provide customer service to vendors and maintain professional relationships.


Record Keeping

  • Track expenses and process expense reports.
  • Maintain accurate historical records.
  • Prepare and process electronic transfers and payments.



  • Prepare and perform check runs, including printing and mailing checks.
  • Post transactions to journals, ledgers and other records.
  • Reconcile accounts payable transactions and prepare analysis of accounts.


Audit Support

  • Provide supporting documentation for audits.
  • Assist with month end closing.



  • Respond to internal and external inquiries in a timely manner.
  • Communicate with colleagues and vendors to address and resolve issues.


Regulatory Compliance

  • Ensure compliance with company policies, as well as local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
  • Monitor accounts to ensure payments are up to date.


Continuous Learning

  • Stay informed about the latest best practices in accounts payable.
  • Attend workshops, webinars, and professional development courses.


What Does an Accounts Payable Clerk Do?

Accounts Payable Clerks are responsible for managing and processing transactions and expenses within a company or organization.

They generally work in the accounting or finance department.

Their primary role involves receiving, processing, and verifying invoices.

They are tasked with checking each invoice for any discrepancies and ensuring that all transactions adhere to the company’s financial policies and procedures.

Accounts Payable Clerks also organize and maintain vendor files and correspondence, and they often interact with suppliers and internal departments to resolve billing issues.

They are also responsible for preparing and processing checks for multi-currency payments.

These professionals may also be tasked with reconciling processed work by verifying entries and comparing system reports to balances.

They maintain historical records by filing documents and contribute to the team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.

They also ensure that all payments are completed on time, and they may assist with end-of-month closing processes.

From time to time, they may be involved in special projects within the accounting department.


Essential Accounts Payable Clerk Skills

  • Accounting Knowledge: Understanding of accounting principles, accounts payable procedures, and general ledger structures is crucial for this role.
  • Numerical Accuracy: Accounts Payable Clerks are responsible for accurate data entry. They must have a keen eye for detail and an ability to spot numerical errors.
  • Organizational Skills: They need to manage several tasks simultaneously, prioritize work, and meet deadlines. Excellent organizational skills are essential.
  • Communication: Effective communication skills are necessary to liaise with vendors and internal departments. They need to negotiate terms, resolve discrepancies, and maintain professional relationships.
  • Computer Skills: Proficiency in computer software such as Microsoft Excel for creating spreadsheets, accounting software, and ERP systems like SAP or Oracle is required.
  • Problem-solving: Ability to identify issues, analyze them, and develop efficient solutions is imperative. For instance, resolving invoice discrepancies, handling vendor queries, etc.
  • Record Keeping: Keeping accurate, up-to-date records of payments, invoices, and cash flow is fundamental to the job. They must know how to manage and retrieve records efficiently.
  • Data Entry: Fast and accurate data entry skills are needed to input invoices, vendor information, and payment details into accounting systems.
  • Financial Software: Knowledge of financial management software such as QuickBooks, Sage, or Xero is beneficial to streamline and automate accounts payable processes.
  • Confidentiality: Clerks deal with sensitive financial information. They must maintain confidentiality and handle data with discretion.
  • Teamwork: They often work as part of a finance team and need to collaborate effectively with others, share information, and contribute to team success.
  • Time Management: Managing their time efficiently to meet payment deadlines, close accounts at the end of each month, and ensure smooth cash flow is vital.
  • Audit Support: They may be required to support external and internal audits, requiring an understanding of audit procedures and documentation.
  • Vendor Management: Building and maintaining relationships with vendors, handling queries, and resolving issues promptly is crucial.
  • Reporting: Generating and presenting regular reports on payment activity, cash flow, and forecasted expenses is an important aspect of the role.


Accounts Payable Clerk Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Accounts Payable Clerk

Your journey generally starts as a Junior Accounts Payable Clerk.

At this phase, you are absorbing knowledge and gaining practical experience.

Your tasks could include data entry, basic accounting duties, invoice processing, and reconciliation.

Here are some tips for success in this role:

  1. Learn Continuously: Stay up-to-date with the latest accounting software and financial regulations.
  2. Seek Mentorship: Don’t be shy to ask questions and seek guidance from senior colleagues.
  3. Attention to Detail: Ensure all financial data is accurate and up-to-date.


The Ascent: Accounts Payable Clerk

With experience and confidence, you’ll progress into the role of an Accounts Payable Clerk.

You’ll handle more complex accounting duties, such as managing vendor payments, handling expense reports, and participating in financial audits.

Here’s how to excel at this stage:

  1. Problem Solving: Improve your problem-solving skills by addressing accounting discrepancies and optimizing financial processes.
  2. Collaboration: Embrace teamwork and communicate effectively with your peers and other stakeholders.
  3. Accounting Principles: Adhere to accounting principles and maintain confidentiality and accuracy in all transactions.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Accounts Payable Clerk

Next up is the Senior Accounts Payable Clerk position.

At this stage, you’re recognized for your expertise and leadership within the team.

You may take on mentoring roles, guide process improvements, and drive projects to success.

To thrive as a Senior Accounts Payable Clerk:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and help junior clerks develop.
  2. Strategic Thinking: Consider system-level improvements and help streamline the accounts payable process.
  3. Leadership: Lead by example and inspire others with your work ethic and problem-solving skills.


Beyond the Horizon: Supervisory Roles and Beyond

As you move forward, you may choose to specialize in a specific area, such as becoming an Accounts Payable Supervisor or Manager.

Each of these roles involves greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Leadership Skills: Drive initiatives and shape the direction of your team.
  2. Management Skills: Develop strong leadership and communication skills to manage your team effectively.
  3. Innovation: Continue to find ways to improve efficiency and accuracy in the accounts payable process.


Pinnacle of Success: Director of Accounts Payable

You may reach roles like Director of Accounts Payable at the highest levels of the accounting career ladder.

Here, you’ll be responsible for overseeing the entire accounts payable process of the organization, making critical decisions, and managing larger teams.


Accounts Payable Clerk Salary

Entry-Level Accounts Payable Clerk

  • Median Salary: $30,000 – $40,000 per year
  • Entry-level accounts payable clerks usually have 0-2 years of experience. They may hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field.


Mid-Level Accounts Payable Clerk

  • Median Salary: $40,000 – $50,000 per year
  • Mid-level clerks have 2-5 years of experience. They are usually responsible for more complex tasks such as managing vendor relations, processing invoices, and may even supervise junior clerks.


Senior Accounts Payable Clerk

  • Median Salary: $50,000 – $60,000 per year
  • Senior clerks have 5+ years of experience. They handle high-volume invoice processing, negotiate payment terms with vendors, and often train and supervise junior clerks.


Accounts Payable Supervisor / Manager

  • Median Salary: $60,000 – $80,000 per year
  • These roles require significant experience. They are usually responsible for overseeing the entire accounts payable process, managing a team of clerks, and ensuring regulatory compliance.


Accounts Payable Director / VP of Finance

  • Median Salary: $90,000 – $120,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience and deep knowledge in finance and accounting. They are responsible for setting financial strategies, ensuring financial compliance, and leading financial operations within a company.


Accounts Payable Clerk Work Environment

Accounts Payable Clerks typically work in office settings, but these offices can be found within a variety of industries, including manufacturing, retail, and service corporations, as well as government entities.

Their work schedules are typically set on a standard 40-hour week, Monday through Friday, with little to no weekend or evening work.

However, their workload can increase during end-of-month, quarter or year-end closing periods.

Some Accounts Payable Clerks may also work remotely depending on the policies of their employer.

The work of an Accounts Payable Clerk requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail, as they are responsible for processing invoices and payments.

They generally work as part of a larger finance team and report to a manager or supervisor.

Despite working largely independently, they often collaborate with other departments to resolve invoice discrepancies and issues.


FAQs About Becoming an Accounts Payable Clerk

What qualifications do I need to become an Accounts Payable Clerk?

To become an Accounts Payable Clerk, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

However, many employers prefer candidates with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field.

Previous experience in bookkeeping or accounts payable can be advantageous.

Key skills include proficiency in spreadsheet programs, attention to detail, understanding of basic accounting principles, and the ability to handle confidential information responsibly.

Many employers also look for candidates with experience in specific accounting software like QuickBooks.


Is certification necessary to become an Accounts Payable Clerk?

While certification is not mandatory to become an Accounts Payable Clerk, it can enhance your job prospects.

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offer certification exams that can showcase your knowledge and skills in this field.


What does an Accounts Payable Clerk do?

An Accounts Payable Clerk is responsible for processing all invoices received for payment and for undertaking the payment of all creditors in an accurate, efficient and timely manner.

This role involves tasks such as reviewing and verifying invoices, tracking expenses, reconciling accounts, preparing checks, resolving invoice discrepancies, and maintaining vendor relationships.


Is the role of an Accounts Payable Clerk stressful?

The stress level for an Accounts Payable Clerk can vary based on factors like the size of the organization, the volume of transactions, and the complexity of the payment systems.

The role can be demanding, especially during peak financial periods, and requires attention to detail and the ability to meet deadlines.

However, good organizational skills, time management, and efficient processes can help manage the workload effectively.


What is the career progression for an Accounts Payable Clerk?

With experience and further education or certifications, an Accounts Payable Clerk may advance to supervisory roles, such as Accounts Payable Supervisor or Manager.

They could also transition into other accounting roles, like Staff Accountant or Financial Analyst.

Some Accounts Payable Clerks choose to specialize further in their field by pursuing certifications or advanced degrees in accounting or finance, which can open up opportunities for higher-level positions.



And there you have it.

Embarking on a journey to become an Accounts Payable Clerk is a significant undertaking, but it’s undeniably fulfilling.

Equipped with the necessary skills, education, and resolve, you’re already on the pathway to making a notable impact in the financial sector.

Remember, the path may be demanding, but the prospects are endless. Your expertise could lead to key financial decisions that significantly affect a company’s bottom line.

So, take that initial stride. Immerse yourself in learning. Network with finance professionals. And most importantly, never stop improving your financial acumen.

Because the business world is waiting for what you can accomplish.

And if you’re seeking personalized guidance on starting or advancing your career in accounts payable, check out our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is designed to provide customized advice and resources to help you navigate your career path effectively.

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