How to become an accountant

Are you considering a career in accounting? In this article, we take a look at how you can become an accountant and what it is like as a career

Accountants are professionals who prepare financial documents such as balance sheets and profit-and-loss statements. They also handle the bookkeeping, perform audits of your books and put together reports for tax purposes. Accountants handle all the financial information for their client’s businesses.

Woman smiling at work

Skills you will need to become an accountant

To become an accountant there are certain skills you will need to have to be successful in your role. These skills include:

Good communication skills

In your role you will need to explain your findings to clients and colleagues. Often your clients won’t have a strong understanding of complex financial concepts. Because of this, you will need to be very good at explaining data to your client so they can clearly interpret your findings.

Being able to simplify an extensive range of data to the average person is what helps to make a great accountant and is one of the most important skills to have.

Analytical skills

Being an accountant requires a rigorous eye for detail. The reason for this is because they spend a significant amount of time rummaging through substantial financial records to make sure everything is up to date and accurate. If done incorrectly their analysis is likely to produce inaccurate results.

Good organisational skills

Accountants have multiple clients and strict deadlines where they must follow proper reporting guidelines. All of which means they must have strong organisational skills to ensure they keep their clients and employers happy.

The best way to stay ahead of their deadlines is to ensure they are highly organised. Disorganised accountants will struggle to keep track of important documents. So it’s important you nail your organisational skills before you land a job as an accountant.  

Critical thinking

In your role as an accountant you will constantly encounter errors in your findings. These errors can have serious consequences for your employers and client if not detected and dealt with early on. It will be your job to solve these problems and you must approach these situations with a certain level of critical thinking. For example, considering all potential risks and variables.

In the accounting profession, critical thinking is an invaluable skill to have and will set you apart from the rest. Helping to make you an extremely sought-after accountant.

Time management

Accountants usually work on multiple clients at once making time management a very important skill to obtain. Having the ability to manage time and multi-task effectively allows accountants to provide high quality work and meet deadlines.

Effective time management is an essential skill for any accountant to have and especially during the tax season.

Adaptability

Just like in many other professions, accountants need to be able to adapt. This is because many aspects involved with accounting like the frameworks guiding taxes and financial reporting are constantly changing and evolving. We saw the impact of this recently with the global pandemic and the introduction of JobKeeper and other measures to assist businesses. That’s why accountants always need to be prepared to adapt to changing protocols and standards. They also need to be able to keep up with new technology and workplace dynamics.

Accountants who work in the public accounting profession need to be particularly adaptable as they are consistently dealing with new clients and projects. Being adaptable and able to cope with change is a great skill to have if you want to be an accountant.

Writing skills

Although when we think of accounting we think of numbers, an accountant must also have a certain level of writing skills. Because most in the profession spend a considerable amount of time writing. This could be in the form of writing emails or drafting memos. They also write guidelines and instructions for improving work related efficiency for other team members.  

Able to work as part of a team

When thinking about the role of accountants, many of us visualise them working alone at a desk. But in fact, many accountants work in teams. Accountants to effectively work in team projects and collaborate with their colleagues can produce great work for their organisation and clients.

Tasks and duties involved with being an accountant

The daily duties of an accountant will vary depending on the organisation and position. But the primary task of accountants is to prepare and examine financial records along with many other aspects such as:

  Giving taxation and financial advice on business plans, structures and operations

  Analyse statements to ensure they’re correct

  Make sure records and statements comply with regulations and laws

  Examine accounting systems and account books to ensure they’re up to date

  Prepare tax returns for businesses and individuals

  Assist in creating and maintaining budgets

  Help manage cash flow

  Manage investment projects for businesses and individuals

  Setting up banks accounts, trusts and funds

Employment opportunities for accountants

Accountants usually work in partnership with other accountants in accounting practices or are self-employed. Every accountant’s workplace is different, and they work in diverse environments. Accountants can work anywhere from accounting firms and retail outlets, to government organisations and finance companies, to real estate firms and building societies. The type of work accountants seek is varied.

Accountants may work in an office with other accountants or they can also work on their own. Depending on the type of practice you work for and the position you’re in you may find you will need to travel interstate or overseas for work. You are also likely to have a high level of public interaction

Accounting specialisations 

A career in accounting can take you down many different paths. There are numerous specialisations which you can choose to take up. Often people discover something they would like to specialise in after their first few years of working as an accountant.

 Specialisations accountants can work their way towards are:

  Auditor

  Budget Accountant

  Cost Accountant

–  Chartered Accountant

–  Forensic Accountant

  Investment Analyst

  Treasurer

  Taxation Agent

  Bursar

  Finance Manager

–  Systems Accountant

Accounting courses available to you at Monarch Institute

Looking for the right place to get your qualification? Welcome to Monarch. We offer a range of Accounting courses, both full and part courses too. If you would like to see what courses we have available, check them out now