How to Get an Accounting Job
Accountants play a vital role in the success of any business’s operations. They don’t just make businesses earn more money, they also make sure that businesses do so legally. Are you still looking for how to get an accounting job? Your search is over!
To get an accounting job, you ought to be aware of some useful information we will share in this guide. They include how much you stand to earn, what qualifications you needed, and who will hire you.
Who is an accountant?
An accountant is a professional who helps an organization or business comply with industrial and governmental financial regulations. Accountants prepare tax returns, examine the financial records, manage payroll, and give advice on maximizing profits, among other duties.
For lower or most entry positions, a high school diploma (or its equivalents in your region) is what is required. However, it is beneficial to at least have a college or university first degree in accounting to become a CPA.
If you wish to go a step further in accounting by bagging professional qualifications, there are enough of them. A second degree in accounting like a Master of Accounting or an MBA with a focus on accounting is advantageous.
There are other advanced qualifications for higher positions in accounting that you can attain. Although they vary across various regions in the world, they include the likes of ACCA, CPA, ICAN, and CIMA.
Skills for getting an accounting job
To be an accountant, there are many skills available to attain. Indeed, accounting has several branches you can choose to major in. However, some skills are useful for virtually every accounting position or area of specialization. Trying to have all these skills is exhausting, yet you should aim at most of the ones on this list.
An accountant deals with figures, charts, currencies, and many other topics that deal with numbers. To an accountant, no number is insignificant- even zero can make a world of difference. Hence, you ought to be good with numbers if you want to get an accounting job.
Having apt mathematical skills includes accurate calculations and conversion techniques. Being an accountant does not necessarily mean that you will have to deal with complex maths formulae. Yet, you need to be at least slightly above average in terms of having math skills.
The ability to stay organized is vital to getting a job as an accountant for many reasons. Firstly, an accountant deals with a large amount of data from various sources which should never be mixed up. Being able to arrange data according to various criteria is needed in this regard.
When an accountant holds a higher position, they might have to schedule meetings, reports, and more for a large group. Also, accountants sometimes get swarmed with too much data to work with at a time. Organizational skills will come in handy here, as an organized to-do list helps to get work done faster and efficiently.
Accountants always have to communicate either with colleagues, their superiors, or an audience. Thus, solid communication skills are a must-have for getting an accounting job. These communication skills cut across written and oral communication.
Accountants will have to give reports now and then on both minor tasks and major projects. Being able to scribe a proper report will be helpful. Accountants are also responsible for drafting various memos, filing tax returns, and more responsibilities that need expert writing skills.
Likewise, accountants must be able to express their thoughts verbally in a way anyone can easily understand, especially laymen.
People say that “time is money”, and only a few professionals understand money like accountants. Time management is a key skill to have to work as an accountant. Accountants are sometimes tasked with projects that have a strict and short deadline.
While being meticulous with the task at hand, an accountant must be sure to deliver on time. Time management skills go hand-in-hand with organizational skills. Even when meetings come in between important projects, an accountant has to find a way to manage them with time.
Accountants are no strangers to juggling multiple tasks at once. All these, and more, an accountant must do while bearing in mind the deadlines.
An accountant’s job is more technical than people realize. Accountants are usually tasked with solving problems with various implications. For this reason, you ought to have analytical skills to be a successful accountant. From unbalanced accounts to fraudulent behaviors, an accountant must analyze data to find out which information does not add up.
In the corporate world especially, some smart people are skilled in bending the rules to make excessive profits. Proper analytical skills are needed to perform your role expertly to save your company or other innocent people a fortune. Also, you could be saving your job in the process.
Basic to intermediate IT skills.
Every profession in the modern age has embraced technology as an important aspect of their specialty. In accounting, the importance of technology cannot be stressed enough. This is why you need to possess up to intermediate IT skills to function effectively as an accountant. This is a must-have skill that every employer requires from their present and future employees.
An accountant should also be familiar with modern accounting software packages. They form part of the primary tools every modern accountant works with. Not all employers are willing to train employees on these software packages from scratch; thus, you must learn them. Some of the most used and sought-after accounting software packages are:
Data management is one of the crucial aspects of accounting. Knowing data management techniques is vital to performing well as an accountant. Although most of the best data management skills to have involved programming, some don’t.
Proficiency in handling spreadsheets with Microsoft Excel goes a long way in managing this aspect of accounting. Part of an accountant’s job involves making spreadsheets and there are several software programs for this but Excel is sufficient. However, advanced Excel skills are needed if you would rely heavily on this software.
Areas of specialization
Accountants can choose from a variety of areas in accounting to specialize in. You could choose from any of the following to focus on.
This aspect of accounting cuts across every sector because every business must pay tax. There are more opportunities here but you need to have the integrity to perform this role. The temptation to help shady businesses or individuals evade tax is strong, but so are the consequences.
Auditors are tasked with spotting what no one else sees in key business areas including opportunities and inconsistencies. Thus, an eye for detail is required for this branch of accounting.
This area of specialization involves employing the vast knowledge of a business and its industry to provide business solutions. With in-depth knowledge of the business, an accountant will guide the business in planning, and ultimately decision making.
A critical thinker will be best suited for this role. Likewise, someone who likes to ask questions and is a natural analyst will thrive in this role. The reason is that your duty would be to help businesses assess risk to avoid possible losses and exploit opportunities.
Accountants in this area specialize in spotting and resolving fraudulent activities, probable cases of misconduct, and more financial issues.
Accountants working in this area are known as financial treasurers. They specialize in making sure that a business is never short of funds to fund and reach organizational goals.
In this field, accountants make analyses and prepare reports on financial actions that reveal more information on a business. An accountant needs to have analytical and communication skills to break down these complex financial theories and deductions to laymen.
Accountants in this field are tasked with making sure that stakeholders’ funds are used accordingly. They will also be responsible for providing stakeholders with information and financial advice on investment opportunities.
Where can I get a job as an accountant?
Accountants are in demand across virtually every sector all over the world. Thus, if you are ever in doubt as to whether there are enough places to work, you can rest assured.
Government establishments are one of the first in line when it comes to seeking accounting services. Due to the large amount of data government agencies deal with regularly, accountants are useful here.
Healthcare establishments also need accountants to handle other aspects of the business while health workers focus on saving lives. Accountants would work on the financial aspect, including liaising with insurance companies, managing tax, and more responsibilities.
Small businesses and retail require the services of an accountant to provide them with security and accountability for their income. From payroll to compliance with tax and more federal laws, accountants are important to keep businesses afloat.
Accountants are also needed by large corporations, hospitality businesses, sports companies, and even religious organizations. There is always someone looking to hire an accountant.
How to increase my chances of getting an accounting job
The search for jobs in accounting is fierce among candidates. Therefore, you need all the help you can get to increase your chances of getting an accounting job.
Join an association for accountants.
While some accountants are already members of professional associations from school days, it is never too late to join one. These associations open doors to job opportunities and networking. Your next employer might be one of the association members.
Some of the most recognized associations are the Institute of Internal Auditors and the American Association of Finance and Accounting. There are many professional associations for accountants in every region globally, including yours. You ought to join at least one of them.
Join online forums and chatrooms for accounting professionals.
Similar to joining a professional association for accountants, online forums and chatrooms are equally important. These online forums are like virtual meeting points for professionals in the accounting industry.
You could find influential people in the industry contributing or those close to them. Job openings in accounting are advertised and these chatrooms also have networking potential.
Attend meetings, seminars, and events for accountants.
There comes a time when you would need to be present at events and meetings for professionals in accounting. Look out for events held by accountants for accountants that are open to everyone. Not only will you meet influential people at such events, but you will also learn a lot about the industry.
Register for newsletters and follow accounting industry news.
Pay attention to the news, especially the ones that concern the accounting industry. There are accounting websites that are dedicated to publishing news about accounting. These pieces of information cover new trends in the industry as well as job opportunities for accountants.
Some of the most recognized and apt national accounting websites are Bloomberg BNA Accounting Blog, Accounting Today. You could also follow podcasts for vital information and possible job opportunities.
How much do accountants make?
Accountants earn a decent salary, while some earn relatively highly. Although the salary varies around the world, you can be sure to earn around these figures.
For instance, accountants in the United States earn a salary of between $60,000 and $110,000. Their UK counterparts earn a salary of between GBP14,000 and GBP80,000 on average.
In Nigeria, accounting graduates earn between NGN85,000 and NGN150,000 monthly. If you were to get an accounting job in South Africa, you would earn between ZAR260,000 and ZAR420,000 a year.
Accounting is a profession that will remain relevant for a long time. Getting a job in accounting is not always easy but you can increase your chances of getting hired. The vital skills for this job are a must-have to get an accounting job. They will help you settle in well and fill you with the confidence, knowledge, and character to excel.
Lastly, accountants work in virtually every sector which means your options are not limited.
Do you have any additional tips on how to get a job as an accountant from your experience? Please let us know in the comments section below.