Become an Accountant
The students enrolled at the Accounting Program at EBI can attest to this: Studying accounting is not like studying economics, psychology or history. Every course and each assignment builds on the previous courses and assignments. Accounting takes a certain type of person; one who thinks logically, with reason (and who reads this blog). In this article, we will delve deeper into what to expect when you’re expecting to become an accountant.
Accounting is a tough industry to break into. There are jobs out there in the accounting field that span across many different industries. If you are thinking about switching your current career and want to work towards becoming an accountant, it would be wise to look at various job postings in order to see what skills are expected for the type of job you intend to set your career goals on.
Studying to become an accountant can take years. EBI offers a much faster alternate option, with a 16-month Associate Degree Program in Accounting. Graduates of these programs will be qualified to work as bookkeepers, cost accountants, tax preparers and accounting clerks, among other positions. Please note that students who want to pursue a more serious accounting career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will need to pursue additional education in the field.
What to Expect When Working as an Accountant or Auditor
Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records, certify their accuracy, and ensure that taxes are properly paid and are on time. They are also responsible for assessing financial operations and help to ensure the organization is running efficiently. Most accountants and auditors can expect to work full time (at least 40 hours per week), but should be aware that they will put in longer hours during tax season and at the end of the budget year.
Duties of an Accountant or Auditor
Here is a list of typical duties required by accountants and auditors:
- Examining financial statements, certifying that they are accurate and that they comply with laws and regulations.
- Calculating taxes owed, preparing tax returns and ensuring the taxes are paid properly and on time.
- Inspecting the account books and accounting systems for efficiency and implementing the use of accepted accounting procedures.
- Organizing and maintaining financial records.
- Assessing financial operations and making best-practices recommendations to management.
- Suggesting ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits.
It’s important to note that in addition to the duties listed above, accountants and auditors must explain their findings (including face-to-face meetings with organizational managers and individual clients).
Types of Accountants and Auditors
There are different avenues of accounting in the world of business. Here is a list of the different types of accountants and the areas they specialize in:
- Public Accountants: Public accountants work with a wide range of tasks that relate to accounting, auditing, tax and consulting. Their clients could include corporations, governments, or individuals. They handle financial documents that their clients are required to disclose by law. These documents include tax forms and balance sheets that corporations are required to provide to potential investors. Many public accountants are CPAs and generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes (like securities fraud and embezzlement), bankruptcies and contract disputes. Forensic accountants must combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine illegal activity, and they may work closely with law enforcement and lawyers during investigations and may at times be required to appear as witnesses during trials.
- Management Accountants: Also referred to as cost, managerial, industrial, corporate or private accountants, these professionals manage, record and analyze the financial information of the organizations where they work. The information they prepare is intended for internal use, not the general public.
- Government Accountants: Government accountants are responsible for maintaining and examining the records of government agencies. Their role also includes the auditing of private businesses or individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations. Employed by federal, state and local governments, these accountants must certify that any revenues (received and spent) are in accordance with laws and regulations.
- Internal Auditors: The practice of internal auditing is not regulated. The role of an internal auditor, however, is to check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds and identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud.
- Information Technology Auditors: Information technology auditors review controls of their organization’s computer systems to certify that the financial data is coming from a reliable source.
Accountants and auditors are responsible for a multitude of tasks. Here is a list of important qualities that students should possess to be a success in their career:
- Analytical Skills: Be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions.
- Communication Skills: Possess the ability to listen carefully and attentively to facts and concerns of their clients, managers and others, and be able to discuss the results of their work in meetings and written reports.
- Detail Oriented: Paying attention to detail when preparing, compiling and examining documentation.
- Math Skills: Must have the ability to analyze, compare and interpret facts and figures.
- Organizational Skills: Possess strong organizational skills to accurately and efficiently maintain the financial documents and records of a wide range of clients.