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An accountant’s job description is to help businesses make crucial financial decisions. This is done through a variety of tasks that include collecting and tracking finances for the company. They are also responsible for finding any mistakes and making corrections to financial records.

Most people think an accountant just crunches numbers. While it is partially true that an accountant works with a company’s financial data as a large part of their job, it involves a lot more. An accountant fulfills a critical role for a business that involves many more skills, including problem-solving. They help leverage assets, manage budgets, achieve financial efficiency, and maximize investments, too. An accountant’s job description and roles go far beyond what most people understand.  For instance, an accountant must ensure that all the financial records made for the business comply with local and federal laws.

Along with recording and monitoring the various financial transactions that occur at a business daily, accountants also produce numerous financial reports, help with tax information and filing, and have many other crucial roles for a company. Much of what an accountant does on a day-to-day basis shapes the company. For instance, their reports provide essential information that helps managers, owners, and investors make business decisions.

What is an Accountant?

An accountant is a professional whose primary responsibility is keeping financial records. Secondly, they interpret the financial data to produce reports for the business and other entities as needed. Accountants are responsible for many other tasks related to finances. They fulfill other, more complex roles like account analysis, financial statement analysis, and auditing. An accountant may work with an accounting firm, or they may work for an internal account department with a large company. Sometimes, they open an individual practice or work as a freelancer with multiple companies.

An accountant is a financial professional who takes charge of a series of accounts for one or more companies or organizations. They often work for corporations of varying sizes. Accountants may choose to work for government entities, non-profits, or businesses in almost any industry.  They will perform accounting duties based on the type of industry they work in. Their duties will also depend on their educational background and experience. They may prepare tax records, provide risk analysis, or review financial operations.

What are the Roles of an Accountant?

The primary roles of an accountant are to ensure the accuracy of a company or organization’s financial documents and make sure the financial records are in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Although an accountant’s roles may vary based on their position and the industry they work in, some of the most common roles of an accountant include ensuring all of a company’s financial documents are accurate. They are also responsible for ensuring all of the company’s financial records and documents comply with relevant laws and regulations. 

Accountants prepare and maintain financial reports for their clients. They also prepare tax returns and make sure that tax obligations are paid properly and in a timely manner. An accountant also evaluates financial operations, so they can recommend best practices, strategize solutions, identify problem areas, and help the organization run smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, they offer financial-based guidance on ways to reduce costs, enhance revenue, and maximize profits. And accountants conduct risk analysis and forecasting assessments.

What are the Three Main Types of Accountants?

There are 12 types of accounting, and each branch handles different information. Accountant professionals tend to specialize in just one branch of accounting. Within those branches, there are three main types of accountants.

Three main types

Definition

Tax Accountant Tax accountants make sure business accounting records comply with the IRS. They also transfer financial information to tax returns at tax time.
Financial Accountant The financial accountant follows GAAP closely and keeps investors and lenders in mind. They provide an accurate look at the financial health of the business.
Management Accountant Management accountants focus on generating financial statements, including product costings, budgets, cash flow projections, and analysis reports.

What Skills do Accountants Require?

The skills an accountant needs will depend largely on the business they work for, the industry, and other factors pertaining to their specific job title. But there are a few skills that all accounts will need. Having these and other basic accounting skills may make the difference when applying for various jobs.

Accountants who have specialized experience are invaluable to a company. They may also have a wide variety of general accounting skills. They may specialize in one or more specific areas and have more to offer employers. An accountant should also have a general knowledge of business operations. Over recent years, in particular, accounting positions have continued to expand. Accountants must be able to collaborate with other departments. Those who get along well with other teams can help build strong strategies, inform essential decisions, and partner with multiple departments. They need to be able to see the big picture.

Even small businesses invest in accounting software. Accounting professionals should be familiar with the software and tools in their industry. An accountant needs to be able to explain the thought and actions behind the numbers. They may need to explain various principles and terms to people in other departments. Accountants need both verbal and written communication skills. Accounting professionals need to be able to adapt, especially with the latest trends in technology.

How to Become an Accountant?

There isn’t a cookie-cutter method to becoming an accountant. Some individuals begin in different fields like a business before deciding to enter an accounting program. Some choose to pursue a specific certification, and others decide to go as far as getting a master’s degree in accounting. In general, there are four steps to take if you want to pursue a career in accounting. 

  • Earn your Bachelor’s Degree.

Entry-level accounting positions will require that you earn a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s in accounting will provide the foundational knowledge you’ll need including the accounting theories and principles. In some cases, you can work as an intern at a firm while earning your degree.

  • Choose a Career Path.

You will need to choose whether you want to be an accountant or a CPA or Certified Public Accountant. The certification can help you stand out among other accounting professionals. All CPAs are accountants, but many accountants do not choose to become CPAs. 

  • Choose a Speciality Field.

Good accountants choose a specific sector and become skilled in it. There are many specialties like personal financial planning or forensic accounting. When you have a specialty, it makes you more valuable to clients. 

  • Obtain Certification.

After you become an accountant, pursuing certification can enhance your skill set and give you credibility. The CPA is the most well-known, but there are others, including a CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and an EA (Enrolled Agent).

To become an accountant, a person should seek to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. While pursuing their degree, an accountant will choose their career path and determine whether or not they want to become certified. They will hone in on specific accounting skills so they can become an expert in one or two sectors. And finally, they will seek some form of certification. 

What are the Programs an Accountant Should Use?

Accounting software and applications allow accountants to record financial transactions and create reports for businesses. The core features of accounting software programs include accounts payable and receivable, bookkeeping, and billing. They may also offer other useful features like debt collection, timesheets, payroll, purchase reconciliation, and expenses. 

There are numerous accounting programs available to businesses today. They range from basic accounting features to complex, so an accountant must be familiar with many of the programs available. They also need to be willing to learn new programs with the latest features and automation as they become available. The five programs all accountants should be able to use include Quickbooks, FreshBooks, Zero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and Zoho Books.

Which Universities are Better for Accounting?

An accountant will need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. You can get an undergrad degree at almost any university in the US if they offer accounting classes. But since accounting is a business field, it is subject to prestige. This means the better your business school choice, the more likely you’ll be to get a better job in the field, so you want to choose the best accounting university possible. The top three accounting universities include the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University.

What are the Earning Factors for Accountants?

Accountants earn a wide range of salaries across the US. Several factors come into play when determining a salary. It can depend on their level of experience and education and if the accountant has a specialty and even their state of residence. In addition to education and region, other factors have an effect on the salary an accountant can earn. Accountants who hone in on developing special skills often become more hireable and earn higher wages. For example, a general staff accountant is not likely to make as much as an accounting professional who specializes in financial analysis.

How Much Can an Accountant Earn?

The median salary for accountants in 2020 was $73,560. Overall, accountants’ annual salaries range from $57,000 to $97,000. However, certain specialty areas and industries can influence the range of the salary. An accountant who works in information services or in the federal branch of the government may make around $100,000 per year. 

What are the necessary personality traits for accountants?

Bookkeeping and accounting are pivotal for organizations and businesses. They are essentially the heartbeat of the company. Accountants need to be organized, accurate, and understand basic accounting skills and principles. But there are also a few personality traits that are useful for an accountant to possess.

Accountants need to have integrity and good ethics. They need to understand right from wrong and display integrity with their bookkeeping and accounting activities. They should also be eager to learn so they can stay up-to-date on all the latest technology and software as well as the latest accounting news and developments. An accounting professional needs to be able to work with a team, be able to meet with clients, and coordinate well with stakeholders and business owners. Reliability is essential since a business needs to be able to count on its accountant. Creativity is a valuable personal quality of an accountant. They must be able to come up with fresh strategies and ideas for solving complex issues.

Are math skills required for being a good accountant?

Yes, basic math skills are essential for being a good accountant. Most accounting programs contain enough basic math to keep them up to speed. It is important for an accountant to be comfortable with whole numbers, decimals, fractions, ratios, percentages, exponents, order of operations, and a bit of general algebra.

Should an accountant know the accounting-related laws?

Yes, accountants do need to be aware of knowing the laws and regulations that apply to their particular position. Large corporations are subject to many stringent laws and rules. An accountant should understand all the accounting-related laws that apply to the business they are working for.

Does NumberSquad help with accounting job tasks?

Yes, the professionals at NumberSquad are qualified to help small businesses with accounting tasks such as bookkeeping, taxes, and payroll services. The accounting professionals at NumberSquad have years of experience and expertise. Their well-rounded skills have helped many businesses comply with local and federal laws, maintain consistent and accurate financial records, and prepare for future growth.

Is a Bachelor’s degree required for an accountant?

Yes, to become an accountant, obtaining a bachelor’s degree is the first step. In most states, before a person can sit for a CPA exam, they must have successfully completed a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some accountants obtain a degree in business before starting to work as an accountant. Most accounting majors take a predetermined set of courses required for their bachelor’s degree. They’ll need math classes like statistics and calculus.

Is a license required for an accountant?

No, but if you want to become a CPA, you will need a license. A CPA license is the highest standard of competence in the accounting profession. You’ll have to take specific tests through agencies that provide licensing services, such as the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Obtaining a CPA license often improves the employability of an accountant vs a bookkeeper.

Is it possible for accountants to be bookkeepers?

Yes, what is a bookkeeper? Bookkeepers keep direct records of a business, including purchases and sales. Accounting takes a look at all the data entered by bookkeepers. An accountant can be a bookkeeper, but without proper certification, a bookkeeper cannot be an accountant.

Do accountant salaries change based on accountant types?

Yes, there is a wide range of salary possibilities based on accountant types. A tax accountant, forensic accountant, and auditor all make around $60,000 per year on average.  A controller who oversees an entire accounting department makes almost $200,000 annually.