What Does an Accountant Do? Duties, Rules, Skills, and History

In the United States, certification requirements for accountants can vary from state to state. But there is one requirement that is uniform in every state—the passing of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. This is an exam that is written and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Purchasing tax accounting software can be a less expensive option; it can be free (for simple returns), and for more complex filing options, it will generally cost less than $120. Both TurboTax and H&R Block offer reasonably priced options for tax accounting software. Using tax accounting software can be like having a virtual accountant there to guide you through the process.

Certification requirements vary, with some roles requiring additional educational requirements above the bachelor’s degree and successful completion of rigorous examinations. But the most common accounting designations are the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A Certified Internal Auditor doesn’t need to receive any license in order to practice, and neither do Certified Management Accountants. The term accountant refers to a professional who performs accounting functions such as account analysis, auditing, or financial statement analysis. Accountants work with accounting firms or internal account departments with large companies.

There are many applications of data analytics in the world of accounting. For example, auditors are using analytics to enable processes like continuous monitoring and auditing. Similarly, accountants who take an advisory role within their organizations can use big data can i deduct private mortgage insurance to identify patterns in the behavior of consumers and markets, which can lead to investment opportunities and higher profits. Additionally, a certified public accountant (CPA) is an accountant who has passed the CPA exam and has met state licensing requirements.

  • Accountants prepare tax returns with much more sophisticated software compared to the software sold to consumers.
  • Credibility is one of the very basic attributes that an accountant should have to even have a shot at success in the job market.
  • Despite their expertise, accountants are humans and can make errors, leading to financial losses or regulatory issues.
  • While not every accounting professional requires auditing skills, it can be a useful skill since it ensures financial data is accurately depicted in accordance with modern accounting standards.
  • However, there are other career options worth considering beyond a Certified Public Accountant.
  • Well, accountants are, in essence, the financial backbone of businesses.

Ernst & Young’s EY Career Path Accelerator Program provides courses to help people entering the field reach the 150 credit hours needed for the CPA exam. Job security is the No. 1 benefit of being an accountant, Smith says. By 2031, employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 6%, and there will be more than 135,000 job openings in the field each year, according to the U.S.

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However, there is one vital part of their job description, which is a legal obligation to perform all their work honestly. Each profession requires specialized skills and knowledge, and they play different but essential roles in the financial management and decision-making processes of organizations. The difference in cost between an accountant and a tax preparer depends on the individual. Because a certified public accountant often can provide financial services beyond basic tax preparation, they may be more expensive than hiring a tax preparer to file basic taxes.

According to data pulled from active job postings, here are the top specialized skills employers are looking for in accounting professionals. Accounting is a broad term that encompasses multiple different job titles and roles within organizations. There are three main types of accountants—public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants—all of which focus on different aspects of the profession. How much we understand the weight accountants carry in the world of finance and business is directly linked to how well we understand what they do. Their daily duties require, not only academic knowledge but good sets of soft and technical skills. And while most employers will take into account both types of abilities, some would prefer one over the other.

  • You’ll be armed with graphs and charts that visualize the numbers – allowing your lender to literally see the opportunity.
  • Besides the obvious use of financial software programs, there are many other technical skills that would look good on an accountant’s skillset.
  • On the other hand, accountants analyze financial data, provide insights, and help make strategic financial decisions based on the information gathered.
  • However, the level of mathematical complexity required can vary depending on the specific role and the tasks involved.
  • Just remember that when looking for an accountant, consider more than their knowledge and skill.
  • It’s a highly skilled, tech-centric profession that’s evolving fast and offers lots of opportunities to work for any type of company, in any industry, and in any location.

As of May 2022, the average pay in the U.S. for accounting professionals was $86,740 a year, according to the BLS. Additionally, accountants working in areas like media, computer manufacturing, and software publishing often see salaries over $100,000. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were around 1.4 million accountants and auditors in the U.S. in 2022 and employment of these accounting professionals is estimated to grow about 6% over the coming decade. Accounting can be challenging, particularly as you move into more advanced concepts and responsibilities. It requires attention to detail, analytical skills, and a strong understanding of financial principles and regulations.

Skills and Qualifications of an Accountant

At the federal level, they may work to investigate white-collar crime or manage public funds. At the state and local levels, they may work to manage use of local revenues, investigate fraud and perform lower-level audits. “I don’t actually crunch any numbers,” says Jessalyn Dean, principal consultant at Dune Consultants. Professionals in this field need to be able to use advanced accounting software and other computer-based tools to work effectively.

Business knowledge

Due to the exponential growth of the accounting and finance industry, the benefits of getting an accounting degree are more evident than ever before. Furthermore, since accountants are responsible for sensitive data, it is increasingly important to maintain strong security practices to ensure the safety of the organization or client’s private information. Accounting principles are critical for ensuring accountants don’t give clients bad guidance or mislead them with poorly maintained financial statements. Without these principles, an accountant won’t last long in the field.

Understanding Accountants

They are almost ‘personal’ qualities that most hiring managers will look for in their potential workers. Accounting information system professionals generally have an educational background of general business as well as information systems. They can work in a variety of positions, including systems auditors, consultants and accountants. They may help companies develop accounting information systems, assess the data within the systems or make it available to other accounting professionals.

These skills include traits that are not usually natural to a lot of people. When it comes to accountants, this asset becomes important exactly because of the characteristics it carries. When it comes to the world of finance and business, accounting is a base of balance and guarantee that things will run smoothly.

The Everything Guide to Working as an Accountant

An accountant assists with decision-making by providing well-analyzed financial data, identifying trends, and forecasting future financial scenarios. This information is invaluable when making strategic business decisions such as expansion, investment, or cost-cutting. Government accountants maintain and examine records of government agencies and audit private businesses or individuals for compliance with government regulations. Today’s accountants are way more than number crunchers—think of them as financial weather people.

Small businesses often benefit from using a tax preparer who specializes in this area of tax preparation. Tax professionals may save you money and time, and ensure you are following relevant tax rules for business owners. You typically need a four-year degree to become an accountant,  since most states require a bachelor’s degree to take the CPA exam. However, many CPAs choose to pursue master’s or other advanced degrees to meet the education credit hour requirements for licensure. Additionally, some employers prefer to hire someone who earned a master’s degree. Both accounting and finance have complexities, and the difficulty level can depend on individual strengths and interests.

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