Accounting has a reputation as a dry, boring field for highly analytical people. This stems from the nature of the work, which largely centers on recording and monitoring company or client financial transactions and preparing financial reports. Adding a sense of fun and humor to common personal qualities shared by accountants can certainly enrich your experience in a job that paid a median annual salary of $61,690 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even if it earns a label as a "stickler", an accountant must be extremely precise in her work. By nature of the job, the accountant's role is to record and ensure accurate financial records. Errors in transactions or reporting can result in poor strategic decisions internally, and potential legal issues with company investors and government officials. Clients and employers rely on accountants to be the precision experts. If being a perfectionist, especially in number crunching, is important to you, accounting may be for you.
For company leaders, the accounting department presents a real concern. Not only is accuracy needed, but those who manage a company's financial information are often in the best position to manipulate the numbers for personal gain. Embezzlement often occurs in accounting or finance areas where employees have the ability to amend financial records. Additionally, companies rely on accountants with high integrity to maintain standards and stick to accounting principals in interactions with clients. Accounting scandals are a common trigger in prominent company scandals. Accounting fits someone whose natural instinct is to do things the right away.
An often overlooked quality of good accountants is the ability to communicate well. Accountants don't just spend eight hours a day crunching numbers and filling out ledgers. They talk with company leaders concerning methods used to prepare management financial reports needed for decision-making. They exchange e-mails and phone calls with other accounting professionals to discuss how to apply proper accounting procedures in unusual circumstances. Additionally, accountants work closely with auditors, who come in to review accounting books for accuracy, and financial departments, who make purchase and investment decisions.
Much of what accountants do involves completing tasks within structured guidelines. However, companies increasingly rely on ambitious accountants who show initiative to select new computer software programs to track and record financial transactions. They also want accountants who want to continually learn and stay updated with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP. Gaining specialized skills in international accounting and related areas can make you increasingly valuable to global companies as well.
2016 Salary Information for Accountants and Auditors
Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $68,150 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, accountants and auditors earned a 25th percentile salary of $53,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $90,670, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,397,700 people were employed in the U.S. as accountants and auditors.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.