How Accounts Payable Can Advance Your Career

By Karen Wainwright

October 30, 2018


The state of the Accounts Payable job market is strong! If this is a career path you are considering, then you will be in good shape for the future.

Using your AP experience could also springboard you to the next phase in your career.

Naturally, you wouldn’t expect a six-figure salary in AP, but it’s a great path to becoming a Controller, VP of Finance or another leadership role in the Accounting/Finance department. Some professionals might feel clerk or associate-level roles are too far down on the totem pole to start with, but I’d like to offer up a different perspective. I recently interviewed an accounting professor from a top-rated 4-year college in Massachusetts. He said that without a doubt, his students who started at a community college had much better grades and increased motivation than his 4-year kids.

This gave me some thought, if you use that example. If your career path is accounting and finance and your goal is to be the Controller or VP, why not learn what the folks in AP do daily and start there? It’s a wonderful way to learn the processes of a given company or organization that help shape the critical business decisions you may make in future roles.

Here’s some data gathered from a variety of sources to consider in growing your career.

  • AP Clerks generally earn from 14.00-22.00/hr. or median annual salary is $39,240, yet for Controllers it’s $129k/year. That’s quite a jump.

  • Some experts agree that there will be little change in accounting job opportunities in an eight-year view to 2026.

  • The typical skills of an AP clerk include experience with a given ERP or accounting software solution, Microsoft Office with emphasis on Excel, a degree in finance or business administration and basic math skills, but the Controller or VP needs much more.

That’s what you would expect, right? There are key considerations to keep front and center as you advance your career. It would be beneficial to keep your eyes on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM). It all sounds like alphabet soup, but the advanced AP professional should plan on incorporating these into their skillsets.

Since Mekorma is focused on the Dynamics GP channel and we are a member of APP2P, we are naturally inclined to offer suggestions in those spaces.

The GPUG or GP User Group community offers an AP certification class in their Academy training. There are several certification classes offered through APP2P either online or in-person at their conferences. Certifications typically help you in salary negotiations. For the employer that values applicants with specific skillsets, then these classes should be on your to-do list now. Once you have the certifications in place, it will be easier to move onto more areas of expertise.

I’ve also mentioned in past blog posts about the vast resources on-line for AI, BI and CPM for self-directed courses to complete at your own pace. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn about Cloud technologies such as Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or IBM. These are the top three providers and will help you to learn about storage, AI and machine learning to help your employer move away from client-server applications if that’s their focus.

Then, don’t discount the importance of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) or companion products such as check printing, automation, expenses and/or electronic payment processing. These solutions will give you a broader understanding of the complete accounting picture and how companies/organizations run, and they might even provide insight on how to improve operations.

2019 could be the year for new beginnings to advance your career and enjoy that leadership role you’ve been thinking and dreaming about.