An accountant is a professional who performs accounting functions such as account analysis, auditing, or financial statement analysis. Most accountants are responsible for a wide range of finance-related tasks, either for individual clients or for larger businesses and organizations employing them.
Upon first glance, accounting might seem like a fairly straightforward profession. It’s just crunching numbers, right? While it’s true that working with financial data is a substantial part of the job, accounting is a critical business function that involves much more problem solving than you may think.
Common Accounting terms:
Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Accounting Period, Accruals, Accrual Basis Accounting, Assets, Balance Sheet, Capital, Cash Flow, Liability, Closing the Books, Cost of Goods Sold, Credit, Debit, Depreciation, Dividends, Double-Entry Bookkeeping, Expenses, Equity, Fixed Cost, Gross Profit, General Ledger, Income Statement, Liquidity, Overhead, Present Value, Revenue, Return on Investment, Trial Balance etc.
Accountants provide financial advice to clients ranging from multinational organizations and governmental bodies to small independent businesses and individuals. They often specialize in particular areas of practice, including management accounting, internal audit, forensic accounting, taxation, assurance and corporate finance.
Requirements for graduate jobs reflect those set by the various professional bodies offering the professional accounting qualifications you’ll work towards. However, generally, graduates need an honors degree in any discipline, although if you’ve passed specific accounting, business, law or management modules, you may be exempt from some of the steps on the way to qualification. Read on for a detailed description on how to become an accountant.
Step 1: Enroll in a degree program
Regardless of what you plan to do in your career, you’ll need to first earn your Bachelors’ Degree in Accounting. In your accounting program, you will take math classes and learn about tax law. You can also expect to take business-related courses such as these:
Step 2: Choose your career path
Deciding on a career path is often the next step to becoming an accountant. You can choose to specialize in a particular field of accounting, including managerial accounting, financial accounting, or tax accounting. Or, you can work toward qualifying as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or obtaining your MBA, which usually requires additional hours and continuing education. Accountants provide a number of important services for their clients. Here are a few examples:
Most accountants work in private offices or as a part of a corporate team. Some are employed by government. Auditors may travel from one company to another throughout the year to examine financial records and provide objective guidance to clients locally or across a particular region.
Step 3: Find an internship
Many students find that working at a paid or unpaid internship can provide valuable experience that can pay off in higher wages and increased job opportunities after graduation. Sometimes, an internship can lead to a job offer, so it’s important to be professional, build your network, and give your best effort every day.
Step 4: Complete your degree
Completing your degree program along with any additional coursework needed, is the next step on your path toward a career in accountancy. Keep in mind, many universities require a specific grade point average if you’re going on to achieve an advanced degree.
Step 5: Find a job
With your degree in hand, you’ll be ready to seek and obtain an entry-level position in the accountancy field. You could even earn extra credits required to sit for the CPA exam while working your first job.
Step 6: Get certified
Depending on which specialty field you choose, you may elect to obtain one of a number of additional qualifications. Obtaining certifications beyond your degree can improve your marketability and increase your professional credibility:
There are also a number of specialisms you could follow with the right skills and qualifications. You could pursue different areas of accountancy such as:
Key Skills for Accountants
The remit of different accounting roles can vary considerably. The profession incorporates a range of diverse career paths, from forensic accounting to audit and assurance. That said, accounting roles have much in common when it comes to the need for strong mathematics skills and a rigorous approach to detail. Likewise, professional qualifications, a robust understanding of ethics and an ongoing commitment to CPD(Continuing Professional Development) are the key ingredients of a successful career in this field.