Professional accountants work to safeguard the integrity of financial reporting in businesses, and the career path of an accountant allows them to dip their toes into diverse sectors. Accountants are hired by organisations or private clients to prepare, examine, and analyse accounting records and other financial reports. They audit accounts, provide financial advice, and undertake account administration to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards. They are typically considered as the financial backbone of a business, helping their clients devise plans to achieve goals by taking the necessary accounting steps. Here we cover everything you need to know about kick-starting your accounting career.
What are the roles and responsibilities of an accountant?
- Organising and maintaining financial records by ensuring accuracy of statements;
- Using computer systems to develop accounting systems;
- Identifying financial principles to analyse data or information;
- Obtaining information from relevant sources;
- Processing information by compiling, coding, categorising, tabulating, and auditing data;
- Transcribing data to document and maintain information;
- Developing constructive interpersonal relationships and maintaining them;
- Making decisions to solve problems and communicating about the same to supervisors, colleagues, and subordinates;
- Organising, planning, and prioritising work to achieve specific goals;
- Preparing tax returns by ensuring compliance with payment;
- Representing and providing support to clients during litigation related to financial issues;
- Reporting to management about complex financial transactions or bankruptcies;
- Advising clients about insurance-related decisions, long-range tax, and estate plans;
- Improving business efficiency by making recommendations about the best practices.
Is accountancy a good career path?
Accountancy is an in-demand profession that can lead to a satisfying and successful work life. This profession requires a high level of concentration and attention to detail. By working in the accountancy field, students can expect good salaries, opportunities to work abroad, and pursue jobs in different industries with multiple career paths possible. Accounting careers can be of four types:
- Public Accountant;
- Management Accountant;
- Government Accountant;
- Internal Auditor.
Generally, they specialise in the following areas of practice:
- Management consultancy;
- Forensic accountancy;
- Corporate finance.
They provide services to a wide range of clients, such as:
- Multinational organisations;
- Governmental bodies;
- Small-scale independent businesses;
- Private accountant firms;
- Non-profit organisations.
How to become an accountant?
Step 1: You need to possess basic knowledge about the following subjects and their respective applications:
- Mathematics (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics);
- Economics and accounting (banking, financial market and data);
- English language (spelling, grammar and rules of composition);
- Customer service (customer needs assessment, evaluation of customer satisfaction);
- Technology (computers and electronics).
Step 2: Career opportunities in accountancy can be broadly categorised as management accounting and financial accounting. Therefore, it is important that students take up the option that is best suited for their strengths and goals. Following are some of the accounting specialisms that graduates can choose to work in:
- Commercial finance;
- Corporate finance;
- Corporate recovery
- Corporate treasury;
- Financial accounting;
- Forensic accounting;
- Management accounting;
- Internal audit;
- Risk assessment;
Step 3: To get established in the industry, you could secure a temporary job or an accountancy internship. After graduating with an accounting and finance degree, you can pursue job roles such as:
- Data Analyst;
- Purchasing Manager;
- Tax advisor;
- Chartered Accountant;
- Forensic Accountant;
Step 4: The final step to becoming an accountant is to acquire relevant accounting work experience. You can choose to take up a job through work placement, voluntary, or part-time role. Getting relevant work experience in finance will increase your chances of landing a full-time accounting job role. To develop key accounting skills, students can apply for further training after completing their educational qualification.
What qualifications are needed to enter the field?
- To get hired by professional accounting bodies, you need to acquire a graduate degree (honours) in the field of accounting, business, or economics;
- A bachelor’s degree will prepare you for entry-level positions and pave the way for a Master of Business Administration or other advanced degrees;
- To become a chartered accountant, you must acquire one of these accounting qualifications:
- AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians);
- ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants);
- ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales);
- CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants).
What skills do accountants need?
- Enhanced mathematical and quantitative skills;
- Advanced analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills;
- Active listening and decision-making skills;
- Operational and system analysis skills;
- Inductive and deductive reasoning ability;
- Time management and organisational skills;
- Active learning and social skills;
- Communication, coordination, interpersonal and speaking skills.
How much do they make and what to expect?
The salary of an accountant typically depends on their work experience and specialisation. The average annual salary for an accountant in an entry-level position is £28,824, while an accountant holding strong experience can earn up to £95,000.
The working environment of an accountant depends on their job role and the organisation they work for. Working hours can often extend beyond the regular nine to five, especially at peak times such as the end of the tax month and financial year. For graduates stepping into accountancy, it is generally recommended to spend a few years training in public practice. This can help you gain experience and the ability to gradually take on additional responsibilities.
If you aim to become an accountant, you should apply for one of the range of online Accounting and Finance programmes offered through Edology.
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