Accounting is becoming an increasingly popular career choice due to the good pay and vast opportunity it provides. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants make an average of $63,550 per year, and there are expected to be 166,700 new jobs by 2022. These professionals are responsible for keeping track of the funds that enter and leave an organization, as well as reporting and projecting on those numbers. There are various kinds of accountants, but all deal with financial records in some capacity. Read on to see if this is the career for you, or if you should give up the dream before it’s too late.
Since you’re dealing with numbers all day, a keen interest in and aptitude for math is essential to become an accountant. In most cases, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, math, or a related field; in order to advance, many accountants go on to earn a master’s degree. Being good at math will make it possible for you to attain the education you need for this career and make it through those tough accounting classes without losing your sanity. Some people are good at math, however, they don’t enjoy it. Since math would be your job, it’s pretty important that you enjoy it at least to some degree.
Even if you’re good at math, it’s not enough just to run the numbers; you also have to know what they mean. One characteristic of a great accountant is to be able to review financial reports and spot not only potential problems, but also opportunities. For example, you may be able to analyze a report and see when the company is spending too much in a certain area, and where it’s possible to cut costs. The most successful accountants are those who can make observations and plans based on the numbers that they analyze.
Keen Attention to Detail
Accountants must be scrupulous about crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, since they are recording important financial transactions. Even the smallest error can greatly affect reporting and projections for an institution and result in financial loss for the company. If you’re a perfectionist who is used to double or triple checking your work, you have the proper mentality for an accountant. An accountant has to have the “better safe than sorry” attitude when it comes to their work because if they aren’t extremely safe while doing their work, they end up being very sorry.
There’s a popular view of accountants that shows them in the office all day, chained to a desk crunching numbers, without interacting with other humans. The reality, however, is quite different. Accountants must not only be able to work with numbers, but with people. For example, you may be called on to explain a complex financial report to a group of managers. Public speaking skills will serve you well in this role, and people skills are required to help others fully understand the work you are doing. You might have to be patient with those you report to, since they might not be financially or mathematically knowledgeable—you’ll have to learn how to simplify and interpret the work you are doing to those who don’t have the skills or qualifications that you have.
Because you’re dealing with money, strong ethics are essential for any good accountant. You’ll have to keep abreast of the latest ethical standards in the field, and ensure that your (and your company’s) practices closely align with these guidelines. You’ve likely heard of the countless companies and financial advisors who have ruined their reputations and their lives because of unethical conduct with investors’ money. Thus, this career choice is for those who are not only skilled and qualified, but for people of the highest integrity as well.
Some students have the desire to become an accountant because the promise of high job placement and a nice salary are appealing to them. However, as you can see, this career isn’t for everyone. It takes specific skills and discipline to receive the training necessary to succeed in this field, and accounting classes are no joke. If you possess the mentality and disposition that is needed to make it in this field, you can enjoy a lucrative and successful career. If you struggle in any of the areas above, you’ll likely struggle to make it in the field, and perhaps get frustrated in your efforts. Yes, success in any career comes from a combination of skills, qualification, and dedication or hard work. If you think you can master the skills and attributes listed above, you are on your way to becoming a successful accountant. Information for this article was provided by educational professionals at Stetson University, where online accounting masters degrees are available.