Accountant Job Description & Required Skills

accountantjobdescriptionWhether you dream of working for a large corporation or decide to be self-employed, accountants are in demand. Every business type from sole proprietorships to large multinational corporations needs accountants to help with bookkeeping and other financial tasks.

As an accountant, you need to provide financial information to management and other decision-makers by analyzing financial data and preparing reports based on your findings. Introductory Financial Accounting provides an excellent overview of accounting for businesses.

Although anyone can become an accountant, math is a key component to properly analyzing financial data and making factual determinations based on this information. If you enjoy math, becoming an accountant may be a great career choice for you.

Typical Workload

Accounts are responsible for everything that has to do with the financial health of a company. While a bookkeeper only focuses on tracking cash flow, as an accountant, you also need to evaluate financial trends and make recommendations that reflect the best interest of the company while following the many laws that govern corporate financial decisions.

There are literally hundreds of duties assigned to a typical accountant, but many of the most common and important include:

  • Preparing, examining, and analyzing financial records, statements, and other reports. As an accountant, you need to assess the accuracy of these reports and make sure they conform to both company and legal standards.

  • Calculating taxes owed by the business and preparing tax returns correctly and in a timely fashion.

  • Analyzing the business for financial trends and project the future financial health of the company based on this information. Management is able to use your projections to make important business decisions that affect the entire company.

  • Creating and maintaining budgets for every department within the company. As an accountant, you are also responsible for ensuring that these budgets are followed on a quarterly basis. Typically, reports are generated that show how well each department is a hearing to its allocated budget for a particular quarter.

Many of these job duties are summed up well in Finance and Accounting for Startups.

Accountants are also responsible for supervising accounting staff such as bookkeepers and clerks. These are the people who often collect the financial data you need to make logical and sound business decisions for the company.

Keep in mind that much of this job description pertains to the corporate environment. Many accountants are also successful by opening their own firms that work with small businesses. Many of these businesses will take care of basic bookkeeping tasks themselves and may only come to you when there is a problem, the company is looking to make a change, or around tax time.

The few months preceding the April tax deadline are always the busiest for accountants, regardless of whether you work for a corporation or have your own accounting business helping small businesses throughout the community.

Effective time management is especially important during this 3 – 4 month span where an accountant can expect to work long hours to file taxes on time for clients.

Skills and Tools

Accountants rely on a variety of tools and training to successfully complete daily tasks. As already mentioned, math skills are a strong component of being an accountant. If you are not a math whiz, no need to worry. Beginning Algebra is a good place to refresh your math skills.

It also helps to understand how businesses work. Since you will be making recommendations to CEOs and other executives, a successful accountant understands the needs and driving forces behind any business.

This may include a basic understanding of marketing, human resources, and production. By understanding these various components, you are in a much better position to make recommendations that are actually useful to the company rather than simply talking about the “numbers.”

Introduction to Business teaches many of the these skills in an easy to understand manner.

Many businesses rely on QuickBooks or another accounting program to handle much of their automated bookkeeping tasks. As an accountant, you must learn to use QuickBooks effectively. Not only do many corporate environments rely on QuickBooks for accounting, but many small businesses that you may work with as an individual accountant will also expect you to know and be familiar with QuickBooks.

You can learn more about using QuickBooks in Quickbooks 2013 Training. Because this software is always changing, make sure you keep up-to-date with any features you may not be familiar with as your customers may be relying heavily on these features. A professional accountant is well-versed in every aspect of QuickBooks and is able to answer any questions that clients may have.

Since most companies rely on accounting software, a good accountant should also be very familiar with using the computer. Accounting software, email, and even meetings are often held via computers and an accountant unfamiliar with general computer uses in a business environment is at a severe disadvantage.

Many of the reports you will generate for management can be done directly from QuickBooks or other accounting software. For a more visual approach, many accountants also use PowerPoint to create graphic presentations that tend to be more effective for non-accountant types. PowerPoint is a powerful presentation program that you can master in PowerPoint 2013.

Every business needs an accountant (or several). This is a career that is always in high demand and can pay extremely well as you become more experienced working with large companies. By understanding the requirements of becoming accountant as well as many of the skills and tools needed on a daily basis, you have an advantage over other potential candidates who have not taken the time to understand this lucrative career choice.