Accountants may work for accounting firms, in private practice or in the accounting department of a corporation. They record and file financial transactions and prepare internal and external financial reports, including balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements. To succeed in an accounting profession, you must meet certain requirements for education and training.
Accounting, and the closely related field of auditing, typically requires that you have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a similar field, such as finance. A bachelor's degree usually qualifies you for work as an office accountant or bookkeeper. In many cases, a master's degree in accounting can lead to higher-caliber and higher-paying jobs in larger organizations or in private practice. Additionally, an MBA with accounting emphasis may qualify you for a management position or senior-level accounting job.
Because of the importance and legal ramifications of financial record-keeping, accountants must also gain practical experience to achieve top positions. College accounting programs often include practical field experiences or internships in public or private companies. Additionally, you usually need some practical experience to take the certified public accountant exam and to get licensed. A CPA license opens more job options and enables you to do more types of work for an accounting firm.
Business-Savvy and Professionalism
Math skills are a given for accounting. Much of the work involves performing computations to record financial transactions. However, business acumen, attention to detail and a professional attitude also are important. This skill set makes accountants more appealing to clients and more valued by employers. Accountants often participate in meetings with managers and clients. An understanding of how accounting fits into the business ecosystem and how company purchasing activity and bill payments relate to record-keeping is necessary.
Communication and Team Attitude
Any perception that typical accountants hide out in an office and crunch numbers is inaccurate. Accountants increasingly participate in management meetings and interact with company leaders. Managers use accounting records to make critical business and financial decisions. They rely on accountants to explain their work. In a firm or private practice, accountants also need to sell their skills, abilities and the benefits of their services to stand out from competing providers.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.