Do you have a head for numbers and an interest in business?
If so, and you enjoy working independently, an accountant role could be perfect for you. These talented professionals are often able to choose their clients, establish their own working environment, and set their own hours.
However, it takes time and dedication to earn the qualifications and license you’ll need to work in this industry. Therefore, you should make sure that this career is for you before you think about getting qualified.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become an accountant and what this role involves.
- What Does An Accountant Do?
- Typical Duties And Responsibilities
- Important Skills And Attributes
- The Different Types Of Accountants
- The Steps On How To Become An Accountant
- How To Start Your Own Accounting Firm?
- Fascinating Forensic Accounting!
- Final Thoughts
What Does An Accountant Do?
This role focuses on the various features of finances for businesses and individuals. You would be charged with managing and measuring the financial information of your clients. This includes keeping a careful record of their business transactions, preparing financial statements, and reporting on financial performance.
Typical Duties And Responsibilities
To get a clearer picture of whether or not this job is for you, it is important to look at the daily duties. While these vary slightly from job to job, there are certain tasks you are likely to complete regularly. Here is an overview of the duties and responsibilities that go along with this type of job.
Meeting with clients
One of the most important parts of this job is meeting new clients and establishing their needs. You will often work for certain clients for several years. Therefore, it is important to be able to establish a rapport and maintain a good working relationship.
Your clients will provide you with details of their outgoings, income, investments, and other financial documents. It is important to keep clear and accurate details of all these transactions and update them regularly. You are likely to be called on by your clients to make presentations about their finances and make recommendations.
Following taxation laws
You need to have a deep understanding of the tax laws in the state you live and work in. It is essential to make sure these and other relevant laws are followed to the letter. Failing to do this can result in financial loss for your client and other serious issues.
You will have to present reports on your client’s financial activities over certain time periods. This information helps your clients to make informed decisions on how to manage different areas of their business. You will often be asked to use your insight to make recommendations about investments.
Other duties and responsibilities include
- Ensuring accounting procedures comply with government regulations.
- Reviewing financial documents to resolve discrepancies and irregularities.
- Creating, reviewing, and presenting budgets.
- Recommending financial actions.
- Cooperating with auditors when preparing audit reports.
- Submitting annual tax returns.
Important Skills And Attributes
The technical skills you need to do this job will usually be taught through special courses. However, you also need a range of soft skills to be able to relate to clients and do the work more effectively. Here are the main skills and attributes that a successful accountant should possess.
Attention to detail
There is no room for error when you are creating important documents for your clients. It is important to be able to make sure all information is accurate and properly organized. Even the smallest mistakes could lead to significant issues for your clients, and they must be avoided at all costs.
You need to have a good understanding of the way a business operates to interpret and analyze financial data. Your business knowledge will provide essential context to the financial information. This will also enable you to provide clients with investment advice and other insights on request.
You will need to be able to use advanced accounting software such as Odoo. You will also use a range of other computer-based tools on a regular basis.
Being able to analyze financial data will enable you to identify patterns in financial records and highlight potential issues. You need to be able to make quick and insightful decisions to help clients manage their finances.
You need to be able to explain complex financial information as clearly and simply as possible. Listen carefully to the needs and wishes of clients and make sure they are met. You also have to be able to create clear reports and communicate with clients via email.
Strong math skills are essential in order to analyze, compare, and interpret figures and data. You need to be able to read columns of numbers quickly and make sure they are accurate.
The Different Types Of Accountants
There are several types of accounting roles, and each one involves slightly different skills and abilities. It is best to decide which role you want to perform as early as possible so you can get the right qualifications. Here is an overview of the main types of accounting roles and what each one involves.
Certified Public Accountants
This professional is charged with overseeing all aspects of the finances of an organization. Duties that go with this role usually include conducting audits, tax preparation, litigation services, and financial reviews.
This type of accounting mainly focuses on conducting audits as well as record reviews. You will usually work temporarily for a company or organization to make sure that your findings are impartial. Other tasks can include analyzing account records and books, assessing financial records, and making recommendations for financial improvement.
This role is perfect for people who enjoy stability and want to work for a single client. You would usually be hired by a single branch and work full-time in an office environment. Much of this role involves checking records for inaccuracy and compiling reports for bank managers and investors.
This role usually focuses on investigation support or litigation and studying financial records to search for inaccuracies. These professionals often work on a contract capacity to determine fraud and discrepancies when needed. Many forensic accountants work for themselves and take on clients for short periods.
Most government departments hire accountants to analyze taxpayer dollars and implement them efficiently. This role can also involve helping the government to create fiscal plans for different calendar years. Alternatively, it could involve auditing individuals and organizations for the IRS.
This role involves helping managers and business owners to make informed financial decisions for their company. The main tasks include preparing budgets, analyzing profitability, accessing risks, and preparing external financial reports. This is perfect for people who have a good understanding of business and can present complex information clearly and simply.
To do this job well, you need to be able to help companies maximize their profits by analyzing data. This includes analyzing all the main costs that companies are faced with, such as labor, shipping, production, and marketing. You will create comprehensive reports of all outgoings and find creative ways to save money.
These accountants work full-time in the financial department of a company. They maintain the company’s accountants and prepare financial statements for shareholders. Other roles include overseeing payroll, various bookkeeping tasks, and reconciling accounts.
The Steps On How To Become An Accountant
There are several different paths to becoming qualified, and the one you choose will depend on a number of factors. The first step involves getting good grades in high school, especially in math, English, and science. Here is an overview of the steps you can take to become fully qualified, certified, and ready to start work.
Gain a bachelor’s degree
A large number of institutions offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting, which provides the foundation knowledge of accounting principles and theories. However, there are a few alternative degrees that can also help you to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. These include accounting information systems and auditing.
Complete an internship
While you are completing your bachelor’s degree, you can complete an internship in an accounting firm. Many companies offer full-time internships in the summer months that generally run for eight or ten weeks. Completing an internship is the perfect way to gain some hands-on experience while making valuable connections.
Choose an accounting specialty
Gaining advanced skills in a particular area will give you access to higher-paid jobs. This is also the perfect way to take your career to the next level. When choosing a specialization, make sure you consider your interests as well as specialist skills carefully.
Some of the most popular accounting specialties include
- Tax accounting
- Nonprofit accounting
- Business valuation
- Government finance
- Environmental accounting
- International accounting
- Personal Finance accounting
Consider completing a master’s degree in accounting
Advanced qualifications help you reinforce your knowledge and stand out from the crowd. Although a master’s degree in accounting is not required by most employers, it shows your commitment to the profession. Several online courses allow you to study in your own time while you are working professionally.
Get an accounting certification
Gaining certification will enhance your skills and increase employer and client confidence. There are several accounting certifications to choose from, and it is possible to obtain more than one. Popular options that can boost your career include the Enrolled Agent and the Certified Management Accountant.
How To Start Your Own Accounting Firm?
Once you have gained experience and a strong reputation, you may want to launch your own accounting company. While this can be a lot of work, it helps you choose your clients, set your working hours, and allows you to make more money. Here is an overview of the steps you can take to start your own company.
Create a business plan
The first step is deciding exactly what direction you want to take your firm in and how you will do it. You need to work out what you will offer and who your target market will be. You also need to work out which features of your company will help you stand out from the crowd.
Other important tasks include
- Creating a catchy name for your business.
- Calculating the first-year expenses.
- Calculating the startup costs.
- Setting the pricing of your services.
- Creating business policies.
- Creating a mission statement.
Form a limited liability company
It is important to separate yourself from your business to protect yourself from potential lawsuits. The best way to do this is by using a digital platform to create a limited liability company. Other options include creating an S corporation or a partnership.
Register your business
Once you have ironed out all the details, you have to register your business with the state, local, or federal government. The Small Business Administration website contains information on how to do this. You can also use this website to apply for special licenses, although the exact requirements vary between states.
Set up a business bank account
It is important to keep your business and personal transactions separate. Most banks offer special business accounts, which can deliver enhanced returns on your savings. It is worth taking the time to check out the different options to make sure you get the best deal.
Launch your online presence
You are now ready to create an engaging website that will attract clients. The website should include information about your company, including your qualifications and experience. Make sure it is easy for potential clients to find all the information they need and get in touch.
Find your niche
Specializing in a particular type of accounting will help you to stand out from the crowd. This will help clients with specific needs to find you. Specializing in a field that you have advanced skills in will also give clients confidence in your expertise.
Market your business
This is an important part of any business that helps potential clients find you and reach out. Make sure your business has a presence on all of the most popular social media platforms. It is worth hiring a marketing expert when you are starting to make your online presence as strong as possible.
Fascinating Forensic Accounting!
With so many different specializations, we’ve decided to touch on the one we found the most interesting!
So, why not take a look at the selection that we’ve put together, such as Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination by Mary-Jo Kranacher and Richard Riley, the Fraud Examination Casebook with Documents: A Hands-on Approach, and Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination by William Hopwood and George Young all available online 2023.
Furthermore, we also suggest reading the Forensic Analytics: Methods and Techniques for Forensic Accounting Investigations, the Forensic Accounting For Dummies, or how about the Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation for Non-Experts, and CRACKING THE HARD NUTS: The Portable Guide for Successful Forensic Accounting Investigation and Fraud Examination.
Lastly, why not take a look at a few alternative positions in finance you might be interested in! We have our Auditor Job Description, Payroll Accountant Job Description, or what about my Staff Accountant Job Description and Senior Accountant Job Description, Tax Accountant Interview Questions, What Are The Companies In The Financial Field, Companies That Hire For Remote Accounting Jobs,
There are several paths you can take to become a qualified accountant, and it can be challenging. You will need to put in several years of intense study and keep your knowledge up to date.
However, your hard work will be rewarded with a competitive salary, while there are numerous roles for people who excel. The average salary for an accountant is around $60,000 per year. However, specializing in a particular area and gaining experience can allow you to earn double this figure.
Once you have experience, you could also boost your salary by launching your own accounting firm.
Good luck crunching those numbers!
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