Accountant Job Description

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Accountant Job Description

Salary, Skills, Certifications, Duties and more..

Once one of the most popular roles in all types of companies – big or small, is accounting still a preferable job? 


Some people may consider “Accounting” as an old-fashioned profession. As the accounting and auditing concept is closely related to improvements in writing, counting & money transactions, the history of this profession goes back to ancient civilizations. 

 

But if you are looking for a profession growing continuously and adapting to changing times, being an accountant is an exciting prospect. According to the Occupational Training Outlook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7% growth in the number of accountants is expected from 2020 to 2030, and that is 135.000 accountant and auditor positions per year! The necessity for financial analysis will never cease to exist so you can be sure that there will always be demand for accounts in all types of companies – big and small. 


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Yes, as an Accountant, you will be working with numbers, a lot!

Numbers

WHAT IS ACCOUNTING? & 

WHAT IS AN ACCOUNTANT?

According to Rick Antle, Prof. at Yale School of Management and the co-author of the book Financial Accounting, the basic definition of accounting is: “When you look deeply enough, accounting is a set of agreed-upon rules to produce the evolving financial story of an organization.” 


In general terms, accounting is keeping track of business transactions and doing financial analysis in accordance with the compliance of related tax terms and accounting principles such as US GAAP(Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

So in the very basic sense, an accountant is the person who is in charge of doing number crunching to keep track of the business transactions and financial analysis.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ACCOUNTANT JOBS?

In general, accountant jobs can be grouped in 4 areas depending on the choice of the field as:

  • Public Accounting Jobs (Public Accountants), 
  • Private Accounting Jobs (Management / Corporate Accountants, 
  • Government Accounting Jobs (Government Accountant)
  • Auditors 

 

Public accountants work for governments, corporations or individuals, so they deal with a wide variety of clients. They perform auditing, tax, advisory, and consulting services. On the other hand, Management (private) Accountants work for a specific/single company dealing with the company’s financial information, analyzing, preparing reports for an internal manager/upper management.

When it comes to Government Accounting Jobs, (note that accountants working for the government are generally referred to as auditors) these professionals are hired by local governments for ensuring the financial objectives are met in different departments of governmental organizations. So an Auditor is an individual who is certified by the regulatory authorities, who investigates the accuracy of recorded business transactions.



WHAT ARE AN ACCOUNTANT’S DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES?

Although an accountant’s duty may differ depending on the above-mentioned fields of study, basically the main responsibilities of an Accountant are analyzing, evaluating, and keeping track of financial transactions thoroughly.

 

Below we listed some basic duties of an accountant, but keep in mind to review the posted job descriptions for each company as the expectations differ even when the title is the same.

 

  • Preparing financial reports.
  • Ensuring accuracy of the financial documents and compliance with regulations.
  • Assisting with financial and tax audits.
  • Performing data analysis (statistical analysis and/or data mining) to help the organization run efficiently. 
  • Making recommendations based on analysis of data and status of reserves, assets, and expenditures of a company.
  • Guiding on cost reduction and profit maximization.
  • Organize and control reconciliations of various accounts.



WHAT SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS ARE NECESSARY FOR AN ACCOUNTANT?

Apart from relevant educational background, (BS in Accounting, Finance or similar), the skills that accountants need in general are: 

 

  • Strong data analysis skills
  • Organization skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Team working skills
  • Multi-tasking skills 
  • Adaptability to strict deadlines
  • Prioritization
  • Spreadsheet proficiency
  • Experience with SAP, ERP and CRM
  • Good knowledge of regulations and taxation


Keeping the above list in mind, some additional skills and/or qualifications may be required in your job (or may take you to one step closer to getting an offer during your job interviews).


For example, experience in a relevant field of the organization (manufacturing environment, related industry experience like pharmaceuticals) or additional language skills can make you stand out in your department.


Also, adaptability to a constantly changing environment (flexibility) and accounting experience with growing expanding businesses are some of the additional skills that may be required depending on the organizational needs. Moreover, MS in Finance or Business Administration is also a specific qualification in accounting careers that are highly sought out.

What about the Certification and/or Training that is Required for Accountants?

For accountants, the standard education required is Bachelor’s Degree (BS) in Accounting or Finance. Some companies will also be looking for a post/secondary degree and mention an MBA or a related degree (masters in accounting) as a plus in their job descriptions. As expected, having an additional/second degree will help you go one step ahead of the other candidates in a job interview (or even when you work for the company). For managerial positions, a post/secondary degree will be listed as a must for some companies.

 

In addition to having the appropriate education, certification also comes as a real advantage for boosting your accounting career opportunities. It will quite possibly not only bring increased salary but also with better performance prospect, it will potentially lead to many opportunities at other prestigious companies in high-level positions. Moreover, with some certifications and training, the accountant will acquire up-to-date information on regulations, which are a crucial part of the job description.


As in other professions, becoming a lifelong learner is encouraged at most firms. It also brings personal improvement and fulfillment, so make sure you ask for the details of certification/training benefits during your salary negotiations. Furthermore, some of these specialized certifications are keys to entering dedicated groups/communities that help grow your network and accessing exclusive job boards and industry publications.  


Some of the highly preferred accounting certifications are listed below : 


* Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

* Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®)

* Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

 * Charted Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

* Enrolled Agent (EA)

* Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

* Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

* Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)


WHAT ARE THE SOME HOTTEST ACCOUNT CAREERS CURRENTLY IN DEMAND AND THEIR SALARY EXPECTATIONS?

Here is a list of top accounting careers for 2021 and the related salary estimates from Glassdoor:

 

  • Auditor: $60K/yr Average
  • Information Technology Account Manager: $90K/yr Average
  • Financial Analyst: $74K/yr Avg.
  • Forensic Accountant: $83K/yr Avg.
  • Managerial Accountant: $60K/yr Avg.
  • Controller : $105K/yr Avg.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) : $150K/yr Avg.


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entry-level positions for accounting careers like Bookkeeping, Staff Accountant, and Auditing Clerks, the median salary is $42410 per year. With experience, e.g. senior accountants, the annual salary can go over $100,000 as listed in the chart above.

So similar to other professions, experience is highly crucial here as well and experienced accountants’ average salary will be significantly higher compared to accountants who are just beginning their careers. Businesses are seeking out accountants with strong skills and experience for success as they can manage complex financial figures, tax strategies and give advice on budget forecasts. 


The above table shows us that the wage of an accountant varies a lot depending on the industry (specialized field) as well as education, skills, and experience. As always, one other important aspect of salary is geography – i.e. where you live and work as demand and salaries differ a lot depending on the your location. For more info, you may like to check the highest employment rate and related salary geographically in US .


TIPS AND TRICKS FOR YOUR ACCOUNTING JOB INTERVIEW:

For a successful interview, first of all, examine the accountant job description given in the accountant job advertisement, as it provides the necessary information that the company is mainly looking for. The recruiters simply give the job description, role, or position summary and try to find which applicant best fits the accountant job. Analyzing thoroughly what is required in the role will take you one step higher. 


Furthermore, underline your strengths in the skills and the qualifications mentioned in the job description. Telling about your past experience on your skills and what you learned about that (a kind of self-assessment) is always impressive for the recruiters. So, showing off your communication and reconciliation skills is a wise idea. 


For sure, knowing about the company well and highlighting your enthusiasm for the role are also important. As a general rule, being on time, being kind and polite, bringing your CV, cover letter, and references to indicate organizational skills are critical on an accountant job interview as in other types of job interviews. 


If we wrap up, you can find the definitions and guidelines (skills, requirements, education, training and certification etc.) for an Accountant above. We hope it helps to give you an overview and shows which path suits you more.



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