Accounting might seem like a fairly simple profession at first glance - it's all about the numbers, right? While it's true that working with financial data is an essential part of the job, accounting is a critical business function that involves many more problems to solve than you might think. For example, asset utilization, budget management, achieving financial efficiency and maximizing investments are just some of the activities ofAccounting and Financial Managementthat go beyond what most people consider a profession.
What does an accountant actually do on a day-to-day basis? Here we discuss roles and responsibilities, key skills and career prospects for accountants, and current trends affecting the field.
What is an accountant?
oneaccountantis a professional responsible for the maintenance and interpretation of financial records. Most accountants are responsible for a variety of finance-related tasks, either for individual clients or for the larger companies and organizations that employ them.
Various other terms are often discussed alongside the term “accountant”, which can lead to confusion as to what this career really entails. For example, "accountant" and "accountant" are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between these job titles.
In general, accountants haveearned at least an associate's degreeand focus on recording financial transactions. Accountants, on the other hand, generally earned at least aBachelors in Accounting, and are tasked with interpreting financial information rather than simply collecting it.
In short, counters can be counters, but not all counters are counters.
Also oneChartered Accountant (CPA)is an accountant who has passed the CPA exam and met state licensing requirements. So all CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs.
Accounting is a broad term that encompasses many different jobs and functions within organizations. There are three main types of accountants: public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants, all of which focus on different aspects of the profession. Internal and external auditing are also closely linked.
Roles and Responsibilities
While an accountant's day-to-day duties vary by job title and organization, some of the more common duties and responsibilities include:
- Ensure the accuracy of financial documents and their compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
- Creation and maintenance of important financial reports
- Prepare tax returns and ensure taxes are paid correctly and on time.
- Evaluate financial operations to recommend best practices, identify problems, and develop strategic solutions that help organizations operate efficiently
- Provide guidance on how to cut costs, increase sales, and maximize profits
- Carrying out forecast assessments and risk analyses.
In addition, accountants are required by law to act honestly and avoid negligence in their practice. As such, they are also responsible for ensuring that their clients' financial records comply with relevant laws and regulations.
important accounting skills
There are a number of technical and soft skills that all accountants need to be successful in their role. Some of the most important skills for accountants are:
attention to detail
- Accountants need to pay close attention to detail to keep information accurate and organized. With the amount of financial data that needs to be analyzed, it's easy to make mistakes; However, simple mistakes can lead to much bigger problems if left undetected.
- Accountants must be able to listen carefully in order to accurately gather facts and figures from clients, managers, or other interested parties. They must also be able to clearly articulate the results of their work and present their findings in written reports.
- To be effective in this role, an accountant must understand the basic workings of a business to accurately analyze and interpret financial data. A solid business foundation provides context for the financial information that accountants work with every day.
- Professionals in this field must be able to use advanced accounting software and other computerized tools to work effectively.
- Gathering and analyzing financial data is an important part of bookkeeping and an important aspect of identifying patterns and potential problems. In fact, the application of data analytics in accounting is an emerging industry trend that will have increasing impact in the future.
- A common misconception is that you have to be good at math to become an accountant. It is true that math skills are important for analyzing, comparing and interpreting data and numbers; however, complex math skills are not usually required to become an accountant.
Is there a demand for accounting jobs?
Accounting is an in-demand career with impressive salaries and job growth.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data forecasts an increase in the employment of accountants and chartered accountants7 percentbis 2030.
In accordance withAccounting and Finance Salary Guide 2019compiled by Robert Half, accountants with one to three years of experience can earn anywhere from $51,500 to $96,500 per year. Individuals with five or more years of experience can earn up to $129,250 per year.
Location also plays an important role in determining an accountant's earning potential. Factors such as the cost of living and the lack of talent affect the salary you can expect in a given city or region. For example data frommiddle Robertshows that people across all industries and occupations living in areas like Boston, New York, and San Francisco earn an average of 34%, 40.5%, and 41%, respectively, more than the national average.
Most employers require applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or another related field, such as business administrationFinance and accounting. In many cases, additional certifications are also preferred; Maintaining these credentials can help improve a job seeker's prospects. For this reason, many accountants choose to become Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs, by completing the licensing process administered by theInternational Association of Certified Professional Accountants.
However, there are other career options besides chartered accountant worth considering. The industry is filled with a wide range ofCareer in finance and accounting on request. Whichever path you choose, there are incredible career opportunities for accountants.
The most important accounting trends for 2022
Here are three trends that will impact accounting in 2022. Aspiring and current accounting professionals need to keep up with these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive edge in the workplace.
1. Accounting automation
Automated accounting software likeQuickBooksand other popular apps are becoming more and more influential in the industry. In fact, recent research has found that accountants and bookkeepers spend approximately86 percentyour time for automatable tasks.
This does not mean that the meters will be replaced by machines. Instead, increased use of automation means accountants are spending less time on manual tasks like data entry and more time on meaningful analysis.
By implementing accounting automation, accountants can streamline their workflows and work more effectively. With these new technologies, labor-intensive tasks such as tax preparation, payroll, and audits can be automated to reduce the time and resources required to advance.
2. Transparency and security
The most important trends in the field of accounting include ever higher standards for transparency in accounting and an increased focus on data security.
After the accounting scandals and the increased scrutiny that followed the 2008 financial crisis, it was important to restore trust and credibility to the profession. As such, an industry-wide drive for transparent reporting has impacted the financial reporting process.
These efforts expanded public expectations for accurate information beyond basic honesty. As a result, companies are expected to present their financial statements to the public in order to have a full picture of their current situation and reduce uncertainty in the market.
Additionally, as auditors are responsible for sensitive data, it becomes increasingly important to maintain strict security practices to ensure the safety of the organization or private customer information. Several notorious data breaches in recent years have demonstrated the need for advanced protection practices, and accountants must keep up with current security measures to protect sensitive information.
3. Data Analysis
Today, accountants and CPAs are increasingly performing tasks that require analytical skills, largely due to the proliferation of data across all industries.
There are many data analysis applications in the accounting world. For example, auditors use analytics to enable processes such as ongoing monitoring and auditing. Similarly, accountants in advisory roles in their organizations can use big data to identify patterns in consumer and market behavior, which can lead to investment opportunities and increased profits.
Modern accountants must develop an analytical mindset to keep up with industry trends and stay competitive in the workforce.
How to become an accountant
It's clear that accounting is more than just crunching numbers – it's a in-demand field with endless opportunities. With the exponential growth of the accounting and finance industries, the benefits of an accounting degree are more apparent than ever.
Sebecome an accountantthe next step in your career, there are many resources available to help you prepare for this role. An important step is to ensure you are aiming for the best education possible, e.gBachelor's degree in Accounting and Finance, which can help you meet the expectations of potential employers and achieve your career goals.
To learn more about this and other majors that can advance your accounting career,Explore the pages of our program.
What are your responsibilities as an accountant? ›
An Accountant helps businesses make critical financial decisions by collecting, tracking, and correcting the company's finances. They are responsible for financial audits, reconciling bank statements, and ensuring financial records are accurate throughout the year.What are the 3 most important skills every accountant should have? ›
Accountants have to be accurate, numbers-minded and analytical. Analytical skills remain one of the most important skills for accounting professionals, especially for those in disciplines such as forensic accounting.What are 5 things that accountants do? ›
- Preparing financial statements.
- Analyzing operational costs.
- Tax preparation.
- Auditing financial statements.
- Implementing and/or maintaining accounting systems.
- Managing payroll.
- Creating and improve accounting processes.
Roles and Responsibilities
Preparing and maintaining important financial reports. Preparing tax returns and ensuring that taxes are paid properly and on time. Evaluating financial operations to recommend best practices, identify issues and strategize solutions, and help organizations run efficiently.
Having the ability to manage multiple projects, timelines, business needs, reporting deadlines, filing deadlines and personalities - that's a hard skill to master.What is the most important skill for an accountant? ›
- Ability to Prepare Financial Statements. ...
- Knowledge of General Business Practices. ...
- Ability to Analyze Data. ...
- Critical Thinking Skills. ...
- Accounting Organizational Skills. ...
- Time Management Skills. ...
- Written and Verbal Communication Skills. ...
- Continual Learning.
- You thrive behind the scenes. ...
- You are detail-oriented and meticulous. ...
- You see numbers and money differently. ...
- You are tech savvy. ...
- You have a strong sense of integrity. ...
- You have a solid work ethic.
The 7 functions of accounting are Accounts Payable and receivables, Payroll, Inventory cost management, Cash collections & record keeping, Budgeting, Reporting financial statements, and Legal compliance & finance controls.What are the four professional qualities expected of an accountant? ›
- Competency. First of all, accountancy professionals are known for their specialised knowledge and skills backed up by their accountancy qualification. ...
- Reliability and accountability. ...
- Honesty and integrity. ...
- Self-control. ...
- Flexibility. ...
- Respect for others. ...
- Professional image.
"One of the most important skills the best accountants possess is the ability to transform numbers, charts, and tables into a story the average person can understand," he says. "Top accountants use their communication skills to simplify the vast amount of data at their disposal.
What do you believe are the 3 key personality traits for a great accountant? ›
- They like puzzles. ...
- They can explain complicated concepts in simple ways. ...
- They like working in teams. ...
- They keep looking until they find the answer. ...
- They like learning about new people, places and things.
- Risk Assessment, Analysis and Management. Assess, analyze and manage risk using appropriate frameworks, professional judgment and skepticism for effective business management.
- Measurement Analysis and Interpretation. ...
- Reporting. ...
- Research. ...
- Systems and Process Management. ...
- Technology and Tools.