How to Become Accounts Receivable (Cash in on Collections!)

how to become accounts receivable

If you’ve ever envisioned managing financial accounts or pondered about the requirements to become an Accounts Receivable specialist, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the PRECISE steps you need to take to kick-start your career in Accounts Receivable. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need.
  • The education that can propel your career.
  • How to secure a job in Accounts Receivable.

So, whether you’re a novice in financial management or a seasoned professional looking to upskill, stay with us.

We’re about to unfold the blueprint to become an Accounts Receivable specialist.

Let’s dive in!

Contents show

Steps to Become Accounts Receivable


Step 1: Understand the Role and Responsibilities

Accounts receivable roles typically involve managing all aspects of incoming payments for a company.

This involves maintaining billing records, sending invoices to customers, and ensuring all payments are made in a timely manner.

Understanding the role and responsibilities of an accounts receivable position is the first step towards pursuing this career path.

Before you decide to pursue a career in accounts receivable, you need to know what the job entails.

This role often requires you to track and monitor all payments and expenditures, including purchase orders, invoices, and credit notes.

You will also need to process refunds and manage collection efforts for unpaid debts.

It is crucial to be detail-oriented, as any mistakes in invoicing or payments can have significant financial implications for the company.

Many accounts receivable roles require familiarity with accounting software and systems, such as QuickBooks or Microsoft Dynamics.

You should also have strong mathematical skills, as you will often be dealing with numbers and calculations.

Moreover, good communication skills are important, as you’ll likely need to liaise with other departments and customers.

You should be comfortable explaining financial information and answering any payment-related queries.

Finally, an accounts receivable role often involves dealing with confidential financial data, so a high level of trustworthiness and adherence to ethical standards is required.

In conclusion, understanding the role and responsibilities is a critical first step in pursuing a career in accounts receivable, as it will help you determine if this job is a good fit for your skills and interests.


Step 2: Obtain Relevant Education

Accounts Receivable is an integral part of financial accounting.

Therefore, you should strive to obtain relevant education in this field.

A bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, or accounting is typically required for this role.

These programs provide you with an in-depth understanding of business operations and financial accounting principles, including accounts receivable procedures and practices.

During your studies, you should focus on subjects like financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, taxation, and business law.

Courses in financial analysis and corporate finance can also be beneficial as they provide a broader understanding of the financial processes within a business.

While a bachelor’s degree is often sufficient, some employers may require a master’s degree or additional certification in accounting, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

These further qualifications can enhance your credibility in the field and may open up more job opportunities.

In addition to formal education, consider gaining practical experience through internships or part-time jobs in the financial department of businesses.

This will help you apply the theoretical knowledge learned in class and provide valuable insights into real-world accounts receivable operations.

It’s also worthwhile to pursue continuing education throughout your career.

The field of finance is constantly evolving, and staying updated on the latest financial regulations, software, and best practices is crucial for maintaining efficiency and accuracy in an Accounts Receivable role.


Step 3: Gain Practical Knowledge in Accounting Software

As an Accounts Receivable professional, you will be required to manage a company’s invoices and ensure timely collection of payments.

A critical part of this role is the use of accounting software.

Therefore, gaining practical knowledge in accounting software is a vital step towards pursuing this role.

There are various types of accounting software you might use such as QuickBooks, Sage, or Microsoft Dynamics, each having its own unique features and interfaces.

You can take online courses or attend workshops that provide hands-on training on these tools.

You should be able to create and manage invoices, record payments, and generate reports.

Moreover, you should also familiarize yourself with electronic data interchange (EDI) and automated clearing house (ACH) payments, as these forms of electronic transactions are commonly used in Accounts Receivable.

Mastering accounting software not only makes you efficient and accurate in your work but also makes you an attractive candidate for employers.

Many job postings for Accounts Receivable roles require experience with specific software, so the more programs you’re proficient in, the broader your job opportunities will be.

Remember, the goal is to become comfortable using these tools to perform your everyday tasks efficiently and accurately.

With practice and experience, you’ll become an expert user, which will significantly boost your career in Accounts Receivable.


Step 4: Develop Strong Organizational and Record-Keeping Skills

Working in Accounts Receivable requires dealing with a plethora of records, files and invoices daily.

It is pivotal to develop strong organizational skills to keep track of all payments, invoices, and transactions.

Excellent record-keeping skills are also a must as they will allow you to monitor customer accounts, identify any irregularities, and provide comprehensive reports.

You can start honing these skills by creating a system that organizes your documents efficiently.

Use software tools that can help you manage your work more effectively.

You may consider learning to use software such as QuickBooks or Excel, which are widely used in this field.

Being organized also means being able to prioritize your tasks.

By knowing which accounts to attend to first or which ones need more urgent action, you can streamline your work and increase productivity.

Moreover, attending workshops or seminars on organizational skills could be beneficial.

You might also want to consider seeking advice from experienced professionals in the field.

They can provide you with tips and tricks on how to manage your workload effectively.

Remember, being adept at organization and record-keeping is not just about keeping things tidy and chronological.

It also involves being able to retrieve information quickly and accurately, which is crucial in ensuring smooth operations in Accounts Receivable.


Step 5: Learn Communication and Negotiation Techniques

In the accounts receivable role, it’s critical to possess excellent communication and negotiation skills.

These can play a significant role in achieving the objective of getting customers to pay their outstanding invoices on time.

You can take communication and negotiation courses online or in a traditional classroom setting.

Some of these courses offer certificates upon completion, which can boost your resume.

Look for courses that focus on communication strategies, negotiation techniques, conflict resolution, and customer service skills.

These types of courses teach you how to interact professionally and effectively with clients, which is a key aspect of the accounts receivable role.

Practicing these skills on the job is crucial as well.

For example, you might have to negotiate payment terms with a client who is experiencing financial difficulties.

You need to be able to communicate clearly and persuasively, while also maintaining a professional and empathetic demeanor.

Remember, your goal isn’t just to get clients to pay.

It’s also to maintain good relationships with them so they continue to do business with your company in the future.

Therefore, honing your communication and negotiation skills is vital for long-term success in accounts receivable.


Step 6: Acquire Work Experience through Internships or Entry-Level Positions

As you progress in your education towards becoming an Accounts Receivable specialist, it is crucial to gain practical work experience.

This experience can be obtained through internships or entry-level positions in the accounting or finance sector.

Interning at a company or organization can provide a hands-on understanding of the daily operations and responsibilities of Accounts Receivable role.

In an entry-level position, such as an accounts receivable clerk, you will likely be responsible for tasks like invoice processing, payment tracking, and communicating with clients about their accounts.

This experience can help you understand how various businesses and industries operate, and how they manage their accounts receivable.

These positions not only help you build and refine important skills such as detail orientation, communication, and proficiency in accounting software, but also help you establish professional connections.

Additionally, having this practical experience on your resume will make you a stronger candidate when applying for more advanced roles in the Accounts Receivable field.

Remember that each company might use different accounting software, so it can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with common ones like QuickBooks or SAP during this time.

Furthermore, be proactive in seeking feedback from your superiors to continue improving your understanding and performance in the role.

This will prepare you for higher level positions in Accounts Receivable in the future.


Step 7: Obtain Professional Certification

To further advance your career in Accounts Receivable, obtaining professional certification can be very beneficial.

There are several certification programs offered by various accounting bodies that will help to validate your proficiency in the field.

One of the most recognized certifications for accounts receivable professionals is the Certified Accounts Receivable Specialist (CARS) offered by the American Association of Finance and Accounting.

This certification covers topics such as credit and collections, payment processing, and revenue recognition.

Another certification is the Certified Receivables Compliance Professional (CRCP) offered by Receivables Management Association International.

This certification is designed for individuals who work in the debt buying industry and covers topics such as state and federal regulations, legal compliance, and ethics.

Attaining a professional certification not only boosts your credibility in the field but also enhances your knowledge and skills, making you more competitive.

Most certification programs require you to have a certain amount of work experience in the field, pass a certification exam, and commit to ongoing professional education to maintain your certification.

Remember, the goal of obtaining a certification is to keep abreast of the latest developments in your field, adhere to the highest professional standards, and provide the best possible services to your employers or clients.


Step 8: Network with Finance Professionals

Networking is a vital aspect of finding success in any job role, including Accounts Receivable.

Establishing connections with other professionals in the finance industry can provide valuable opportunities for learning, skill development, and potential job opportunities.

This can be accomplished by joining local and national professional organizations, attending industry-specific networking events, and participating in online discussion forums and social media groups.

Consider joining professional finance and accounting organizations, such as the American Association of Finance and Accounting or the National Association of Credit Management.

These organizations often host conferences and seminars which can be a great way to meet other professionals and stay updated with the latest industry trends.

Online platforms, such as LinkedIn, can also be a great way to network.

You can connect with industry professionals, participate in group discussions, and showcase your skills and experiences to potential employers.

Remember, networking is a two-way street.

Be sure to share your knowledge and resources as well as seeking advice and opportunities from others.

Building strong, reciprocal relationships with other finance professionals will help you to grow in your Accounts Receivable career.


Step 9: Stay Up-to-Date with Accounting Standards

In the ever-changing field of finance and accounting, it’s crucial to stay informed of the latest standards and regulations.

This is particularly relevant for professionals in Accounts Receivable, where accurate and timely record-keeping is essential.

For example, you need to be aware of changes in laws related to credit control, debt collection, late payment fees, and interest charges.

Organizations like the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the United States, or the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) globally, regularly update and issue new accounting standards.

By staying current with these standards, you ensure you maintain best practices in your day-to-day operations, prepare financial statements correctly, and manage risk efficiently.

Consider subscribing to newsletters or joining professional associations, like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

These organizations provide continuous education programs, updates, resources, and networking opportunities to help you stay informed about changes in the industry.

In addition, it’s beneficial to regularly attend workshops, webinars, or other training sessions relevant to your field.

This will not only keep your knowledge fresh but also allows you to earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits, which can be important for maintaining certain professional certifications.


Step 10: Apply for Accounts Receivable Positions

After completing your education and gaining relevant experience, start applying for positions in the accounts receivable department of various organizations.

Look for job postings on online job portals, company websites, and in newspapers.

You can also network with professionals in the field or join professional associations to learn about potential job opportunities.

Make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your educational qualifications, any certification you have acquired, as well as your experience in managing accounts receivable.

Be specific about the roles and responsibilities you have handled in your previous job, as this would give potential employers a clear picture of your expertise and capabilities.

Also, prepare for job interviews by brushing up your knowledge about the accounts receivable process, and rehearse answers to common interview questions.

Showcase your problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and ability to work with complex financial software during the interviews.

Remember, the job market can be competitive, so it might take some time before you land your dream job.

Stay patient and continue to improve your skills while you are job hunting.



Accounts Receivable Roles and Responsibilities

Accounts Receivable personnel handle financial transactions, manage invoice processing, and maintain accounts.

They use their knowledge of financial principles and excellent organizational skills to ensure that the company’s revenue is secured.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Invoice Processing

  • Create and issue invoices to customers.
  • Process payments and update customer records.
  • Resolve invoice discrepancies and billing issues.


Account Management

  • Maintain up-to-date billing system and customer files.
  • Review account statuses and identify inconsistencies.
  • Reconcile accounts receivable ledger to ensure all payments are accounted for.


Collection Management

  • Monitor customer account details for non-payments, delayed payments, and irregularities.
  • Follow up with customers regarding overdue invoices.
  • Initiate collection efforts and customer negotiations to recover owed amounts.



  • Prepare and present reports detailing accounts receivable status.
  • Assist with month-end closing and provide information for audits.


Customer Service

  • Respond to customer inquiries and resolve complaints.
  • Build and maintain positive relationships with customers.



  • Ensure adherence to company procedures and credit policies.
  • Comply with relevant legal regulations and financial legislation.



  • Work closely with the sales team to implement credit and collection procedures.
  • Collaborate with the accounting team to reconcile customer balances.


Financial Analysis

  • Analyze financial data and create financial models for decision support.
  • Improve financial status by analyzing results, monitoring variances, and identifying trends.


Database Management

  • Manage and maintain accounts receivable database.
  • Ensure data integrity and accuracy.


Continuous Learning

  • Stay updated with industry trends and legislative changes.
  • Attend workshops and professional development courses.



  • Communicate with customers, team members, and management effectively.
  • Document and communicate collection efforts and customer issues.


What Does Accounts Receivable Do?

Accounts Receivable professionals typically work for businesses across various industries in the finance or accounting departments.

They can also work for agencies that offer accounting services or be self-employed.

Their main role involves tracking all outstanding invoices owed to a company by its customers.

They are responsible for ensuring timely payments are made, reducing company debt, and maintaining accurate records of transactions.

Accounts Receivable professionals also interact with customers to clarify payment terms, handle disputes, or negotiate payment plans.

They frequently communicate with the sales department and customer service to resolve billing issues.

They are expected to apply various financial procedures, such as interest calculations, credit control, and payment application.

They also prepare reports on the status of credit and collections, customer payment profiles, and credit history.

Their job is to safeguard the company’s revenue by using effective collection techniques and maintaining a healthy cash flow.

They play an integral part in the company’s financial health and work closely with other finance team members.


Essential Accounts Receivable Skills

  • Financial Reporting: The ability to prepare and interpret financial reports is crucial. This includes understanding how accounts receivable affects the company’s financial status and being able to communicate this impact to stakeholders.
  • Accounting Software: Proficiency in accounting software, such as QuickBooks or Sage, is a must. These tools are commonly used in the accounts receivable function to track payments, generate invoices, and manage customer accounts.
  • Attention to Detail: Accuracy is paramount in accounts receivable. Errors can lead to significant financial and legal implications. Therefore, keen attention to detail is a vital skill.
  • Communication: Strong communication skills are necessary to liaise with customers, internal teams, and stakeholders. This includes negotiating payment plans, explaining billing intricacies, and resolving disputes.
  • Organization: Managing multiple accounts requires excellent organizational skills. This includes prioritizing tasks, maintaining accurate records, and meeting deadlines.
  • Numerical Competence: A strong understanding of mathematics and numerical data is essential. This skill is needed for tasks such as calculating dues, interest, discounts, and penalties.
  • Credit Control: Understanding credit control procedures and policies is crucial. This includes knowledge of debt recovery and the ability to assess the creditworthiness of clients.
  • Customer Service: As the first point of contact for customer payment issues, excellent customer service skills are key. This includes understanding customer needs, resolving complaints, and building strong relationships.
  • Data Entry: Efficient and accurate data entry skills are important. This is because Accounts Receivable clerks often need to input large amounts of financial data into computer systems.
  • Collection Strategies: Knowledge of effective collection strategies can improve the rate of successful payments. This includes following up on overdue payments and negotiating payment plans.
  • Business Software: Familiarity with business software such as Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Excel, is crucial for managing data, creating reports, and analyzing financial information.
  • Problem-Solving: The ability to analyze accounts, identify discrepancies, and solve problems is necessary. This requires critical thinking skills and a solution-oriented mindset.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Knowledge of applicable financial regulations, standards, and laws is crucial. This ensures that all actions taken comply with legal and ethical standards.
  • Time Management: Given the multiple tasks involved in managing accounts receivable, efficient time management is crucial. This includes setting priorities, planning work schedules, and meeting deadlines.
  • Confidentiality: Respect for confidentiality is essential as this role deals with sensitive financial information. Understanding and following data privacy standards is key.


Accounts Receivable Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Accounts Receivable Clerk

The journey typically begins as a Junior Accounts Receivable Clerk.

At this stage, you’re learning the ropes and gaining practical experience.

Responsibilities may include posting customer payments, processing transactions, and resolving payment discrepancies.

Here are some tips for success in this role:

  1. Develop Organizational Skills: Manage and organize financial records efficiently.
  2. Learn Accounting Software: Familiarize yourself with various accounting and finance software applications.
  3. Attention to Detail: Accuracy is key in accounting roles. Ensure all financial records are correct and up to date.


The Ascent: Accounts Receivable Specialist

With experience and confidence, you can transition into the role of an Accounts Receivable Specialist.

You’ll handle more complex tasks such as managing billing processes, investigating and resolving client inquiries, and preparing financial reports.

Here’s how to thrive in this stage:

  1. Problem Solving: Develop your problem-solving skills to handle billing and payment discrepancies efficiently.
  2. Communication: Communicate effectively with clients and internal teams to resolve issues and maintain relationships.
  3. Financial Analysis: Learn to analyze and interpret financial data to make informed decisions.


Reaching New Heights: Accounts Receivable Manager

The next step is the Accounts Receivable Manager position.

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

You will oversee all billing, collection, and cash application activities while creating strategies to optimize receivables.

To excel as an Accounts Receivable Manager:

  1. Leadership: Lead your team effectively and motivate them to meet department goals.
  2. Strategic Planning: Develop strategies to streamline processes, reduce outstanding receivables, and improve cash flow.
  3. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and help junior team members develop their skills.


Beyond the Horizon: Director of Accounts Receivable

As your career progresses, you may choose to move into the role of Director of Accounts Receivable.

This role involves greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Financial Leadership: Drive financial initiatives and shape the strategic direction of your department.
  2. Management Skills: Develop strong leadership skills to guide your team effectively.
  3. Innovation: Implement innovative solutions to improve receivables management and cash flow.


Pinnacle of Success: Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

You may reach roles like Chief Financial Officer at the highest levels of the accounts receivable career ladder.

Here, you’ll be responsible for managing the financial actions of the entire company, strategic planning, and managing larger teams.


Accounts Receivable Salary

Entry-Level Accounts Receivable

  • Median Salary: $30,000 – $40,000 per year
  • Entry-level Accounts Receivable specialists typically have 0-2 years of experience and may hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field.


Mid-Level Accounts Receivable

  • Median Salary: $40,000 – $50,000 per year
  • Mid-level Accounts Receivable specialists have 2-5 years of experience and often take on more complex responsibilities in managing invoices, credit memos, and billing.


Senior Accounts Receivable

  • Median Salary: $50,000 – $60,000 per year
  • Senior Accounts Receivable specialists possess 5+ years of experience and are responsible for leading accounts receivable processes, assisting with audits, and mentoring junior team members.


Accounts Receivable Manager

  • Median Salary: $60,000 – $80,000+ per year
  • This role typically comes with significant experience and involves overseeing the entire accounts receivable department, setting policies, and making critical decisions.


Director of Accounts Receivable

  • Median Salary: $80,000 – $110,000+ per year
  • This high-level position requires extensive experience and deep knowledge in finance and accounting. It often involves setting strategies for the accounts receivable department and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations.


Accounts Receivable Work Environment

Accounts Receivable professionals commonly work in office environments, either in small firms or large corporations.

They may also be part of shared services or outsourcing firms that provide financial services to businesses.

With a wide range of industries needing accounts receivable services, these professionals can find opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and technology, among others.

The work schedule of accounts receivable professionals is generally based on the standard business hours, although some overtime might be required during peak financial periods, such as end-of-month or end-of-year reporting.

With the advent of digitalization, some professionals in this field may have the opportunity to work remotely, processing transactions and communicating with clients digitally.

Upon gaining sufficient experience and expertise, an accounts receivable professional may advance to supervisory or managerial roles, overseeing a team of financial professionals.


FAQs About Becoming Accounts Receivable

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

To become an Accounts Receivable Clerk, you typically need to have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent.

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

In addition, having previous experience in accounting or bookkeeping can be beneficial.

Key skills include proficiency in accounting software, a strong understanding of accounting principles, attention to detail, good organizational skills, and excellent communication abilities.


How long does it take to become an Accounts Receivable Clerk?

The time it takes to become an Accounts Receivable Clerk can vary depending on your educational path and experience level.

If you pursue an associate’s degree in accounting or a similar field, it typically takes two years.

However, if you are gaining experience on the job, it might take a few months to a year to become proficient in the role.

Acquiring additional certifications like Certified Bookkeeper (CB) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can enhance your prospects.


Can I be an Accounts Receivable Clerk without a degree?

Yes, it is possible to become an Accounts Receivable Clerk without a degree.

Many employers prioritize skills and practical experience over formal education.

You can acquire necessary skills through on-the-job training, online courses, or community college programs.

However, possessing a degree or certification in accounting or related fields can provide a competitive edge and open up more opportunities for advancement.


Is being an Accounts Receivable Clerk a stressful job?

Working as an Accounts Receivable Clerk can be stressful at times, given the responsibility of managing and recording financial transactions, the need for precise attention to detail, and the potential for dealing with overdue accounts or billing disputes.

However, stress levels can vary depending on the specific working environment and the individual’s organizational and interpersonal skills.

Many Accounts Receivable Clerks find the work rewarding and enjoy the problem-solving aspect of the role.


What is the job outlook for Accounts Receivable Clerks?

The job outlook for Accounts Receivable Clerks is stable.

While the increasing automation of bookkeeping and accounting tasks may impact some aspects of the role, there will still be a need for skilled professionals to oversee and manage the process.

Moreover, as businesses continue to grow and financial regulations become more complex, the demand for experienced Accounts Receivable Clerks is likely to remain steady.



There you have it.

Choosing to pursue a career in accounts receivable is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it’s one that can be incredibly rewarding.

Armed with the necessary skills, proper education, and relentless determination, you’re on the path to making a substantial impact in the financial sector.

Yes, the journey may be demanding, but remember, the potential for growth and development is infinite. Your contributions could lead to significant financial breakthroughs that transform how businesses operate and manage their finances.

Take that initial leap. Immerse yourself in learning. Network with industry professionals. And most importantly, never stop honing your financial acumen.

Because the world of finance is waiting for what you can bring to the table.

If you’re seeking personalized guidance on starting or advancing your career in accounts receivable, take a look at our AI Career Path Advisor.

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

Accounts Receivable Resume Headlines

Work Royalty: The Most Prestigious Jobs for the Elite Class

Earning Expectations: A Closer Look at the Jobs with the Lowest Salaries

The Unseen Battle: Dealing with Stress in Extreme Jobs!

Career Flex Stars: The Most Flexible Jobs in the Industry

The New Wave of Careers: Trending Jobs for Modern Professionals

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *