To recruit and retain top talent in accounting operations, managers have to keep in mind that whether it's an accounts payable salary or accounts receivable salary, it has to be competitive. Why?

First of all, skilled financial professionals are always in demand. As long as corporations exist, they’ll need operational support staff, whether they bring in $25 million in revenues or $250 million or more.

Secondly, creating the right accounts payable salary and accounts receivable salary is often easier said than done. First, you need to understand the skills and experience required. Then, you must benchmark the compensation package offered against the norm for the industry, company size and location.

You also have to take into account the value of the organization’s unique compensation elements, especially the intangible benefits, such as professional development opportunities or generous leave policies included in the package.

So let’s take a look at how the compensation variables stack up in the area of operational support. Then we'll take a look at the expectations and requirements for people working in accounts receivable and accounts payable jobs.

Salaries for AR/AP positions

Initial salary benchmarking for accounts receivable jobs and accounts payable jobs is possible with the Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals.

The salary midpoint (or median national salary) for an accounts receivable clerk or accounts payable clerk is $36,500, according to the Salary Guide. For an AR/AP manager, the salary midpoint level is projected to be $63,750 in 2020.

The salaries listed in the Salary Guide reflect starting pay only and are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the demand for the role, the supply of talent and other market conditions. They can be calculated by city or region in the United States.

Duties and expectations

Every organization has its own expectations that depend on company culture and human resources policies, in addition to the basic requirements of the role.

That said, the essential task of an accounts receivable clerk is to process outbound invoices and incoming payments. For an accounts payable clerk, it’s to verify and pay incoming invoices. Other primary duties for either role may include:

  • Maintaining accounting ledgers
  • Reconciling accounts and resolving discrepancies
  • Analyzing and reporting on account information and trends
  • Maintaining operational and financial security by following best practices

An accounts receivable or accounts payable manager has many additional responsibilities:

  • Selecting, training, mentoring and managing AR/AP clerks
  • Planning projects and monitoring performance
  • Contributing to and implementing operational improvement initiatives
  • Meeting or exceeding financial standards
  • Investigating non-payment and negotiating resolution
  • Auditing delinquent accounts and assigning bad debt status if necessary
  • Presenting financial reports and forecasts

Professional experience and skills

Though many entry-level accounting clerk jobs require little or no experience and can be filled by staff with no higher qualification than a high school diploma, employers generally look for some education and professional experience for their accounting operations. AR and AP clerks must have strong organizational, customer service and communication skills, along with proficiency in common office and accounting software applications.

AR and AP managers may need five years or more of experience as clerks before progressing to managerial roles. Managers should be able to demonstrate all the skills of a clerk, plus the additional soft skills needed to motivate a team.