Career Development

What Does an Accountant Do?

Find out what an accountant does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an accountant.

Accountants are responsible for ensuring that businesses and individuals are paying the right amount of taxes, reporting their financial information accurately, and maintaining records that comply with government regulations.

Accountants may also provide other services to clients such as investment advice or assistance in managing their finances.

Accountant Job Duties

Accountants have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Reviewing financial statements and accounting records to ensure they are accurate and comply with industry standards
  • Preparing taxes by calculating income tax liability using tax codes or laws
  • Evaluating financial records for businesses to determine whether they present a true and accurate picture of the business’s financial position
  • Providing advice to management about how to improve operations based on past performance
  • Explaining complex financial concepts in simple terms to non-experts
  • Establishing budgets and plans for spending within departments or divisions of a company
  • Recommending new accounting procedures or processes to increase efficiency
  • Auditing financial records to ensure that they are accurate and comply with government regulations
  • Preparing reports such as budget analyses and cash flow forecasts based on cost estimates and other data provided by managers

Accountant Salary & Outlook

Accountants’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company or organization they work for. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,500 ($30.05/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of accountants is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for accountants will stem from the need to keep costs down and ensure that money is being spent appropriately. Accountants will be needed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new business processes and investments. In addition, demand for accountants will come from the need to comply with government regulations, which require financial institutions to maintain accurate records and adhere to strict reporting requirements.

Accountant Job Requirements

There are a number of requirements to become an accountant, which may include:

Education: Accountants need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to work in this field. The most common majors for aspiring accountants are accounting, business and finance.

Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in business law, accounting, economics, finance, management and taxation.

Training & Experience: Accountants typically receive on-the-job training after they are hired. This training helps them learn the specific processes and procedures of their employer. Accountants who work for public accounting firms will receive extensive training to learn the firm’s specific processes and procedures.

Certifications & Licenses: There are several certification programs available for accountants to choose from. Certifications allow you to prove your skills and qualifications to current and potential employers. Accountants can also earn certifications to gain additional knowledge about their responsibilities and further their career advancement opportunities.

Accountant Skills

Accountants need the following skills in order to be successful:

Accounting: Accounting is the ability to understand and interpret financial data. Accountants use accounting skills to complete their job duties, which include recording financial transactions, calculating profit margins and preparing financial statements.

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others in a clear and understandable manner. Accountants often communicate with clients, other members of their team and other professionals in the finance industry. Effective communication can help you to build relationships, solve problems and provide information that can help others to make informed decisions.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a decision based on the information you have. Accountants use critical thinking skills to make financial decisions and solve problems. For example, if an accountant notices a discrepancy in a company’s financial records, they need to be able to think critically to determine the cause of the problem and how to fix it.

Data analysis: Data analysis is the ability to interpret financial data and draw conclusions from it. Accountants use data analysis to prepare financial statements, forecast budgets and identify areas of improvement. Data analysis is also important for identifying trends in financial data.

Organization: Organization is a necessary skill for accountants, as it allows them to keep track of their work and ensure they submit all the necessary paperwork on time. Organization also allows accountants to keep track of their finances and ensure they don’t overspend.

Accountant Work Environment

Most accountants and auditors work full time in an office. Many accountants work more than 40 hours per week during busy periods, particularly at the end of the fiscal year and during tax season. Some accountants and auditors may travel to their clients’ places of business. Many accountants and auditors work for public accounting firms, and the work can be demanding. Some accountants and auditors also work for the federal government or for state and local governments. Many accountants and auditors are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Accountant Trends

Here are three trends influencing how accountants work. Accountants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

The accounting profession is evolving, and accountants are increasingly being asked to do more than just prepare financial statements. They are now being asked to provide more technical support, such as data analysis and software implementation.

This trend means that accountants will need to be well-versed in a variety of technologies, including cloud computing, ERP systems, and CRM tools. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with non-accounting professionals, such as marketing and sales teams.

More Focus on Cybersecurity

As businesses become more reliant on technology, the need for accountants who can protect them from cyberattacks has grown. This has led to an increased focus on cybersecurity within the accounting profession.

Accountants can utilize this trend by becoming familiar with common cyber threats and how to prevent them. They can also work with other members of the business team to create a more secure environment for the company’s data.

Greater Use of Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important tool for accountants, who are using it to make better decisions about where to allocate their time and resources.

By understanding how to use data analytics, accountants can make better predictions about the future state of their industry and company, which can help them to make more informed decisions about where to focus their efforts.

How to Become an Accountant

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. However, there are some common paths that many accountants take. You could specialize in a particular area of accounting, such as tax or auditing. You could also become a manager or supervisor. Or you could work in business consulting or financial planning.

Related: How to Write an Accountant Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the field of accounting. One of the best is to obtain an advanced degree, which will enable you to apply for positions that are not otherwise open to you. For example, a certified public accountant (CPA) with a master’s degree in accounting may be able to apply for positions as a controller or chief financial officer. Alternatively, you may wish to specialize in a particular area of accounting, such as auditing or tax accounting. This can often lead to advancement within your current firm or organization.

Another way to advance in the field of accounting is to become certified in a particular area. For example, you may wish to become a certified fraud examiner or a certified management accountant. This will show potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge to handle more responsibility.

Finally, you may wish to start your own accounting firm. This can be a great way to advance your career, but it is also a lot of work. You will need to be very organized and have a strong understanding of the accounting profession.

Accountant Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we believe that our success is a direct result of our team’s dedication, hard work, and attention to detail. We are looking for an experienced accountant to join our team and help us maintain our high standards. The ideal candidate will have experience with bookkeeping, financial statements, and tax preparation. He or she will be highly detail-oriented and able to work independently. The accountant will be responsible for maintaining accurate financial records and preparing monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Prepare, examine, and analyze accounting records, financial statements, and other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards
  • Develop, maintain, and analyze budgets, preparing periodic reports that compare budgeted costs to actual costs
  • Coordinate and complete annual audits, providing recommendations for procedural improvements
  • Prepare and submit tax returns, ensuring compliance with payment, reporting, and other tax requirements
  • Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations, to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice
  • Monitor and review accounting and financial systems for efficiency and effectiveness
  • Resolve account discrepancies by investigating documentation and collaborating with concerned parties
  • Assist in the formulation of internal control policies, procedures, and practices
  • Maintain knowledge of current developments in the field of accounting, taxation, and financial reporting, and apply this knowledge to improve processes and systems
  • Train and mentor junior accounting staff
  • Perform special projects and ad hoc analysis as requested
  • Manage relationships with vendors and service providers

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or related field
  • CPA or CMA certification preferred
  • 5+ years experience in an accounting role
  • Strong understanding of GAAP
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems
  • Solid analytical and problem-solving skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • MBA or other advanced degree
  • Experience working in a public accounting firm
  • Experience with QuickBooks, NetSuite, or similar software
  • Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously
  • Detail-oriented with excellent organizational skills

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