A career as an accountant isn't the perfect profession for everyone, but the job's stereotypical anti-social, "bean counter" reputation doesn't apply to many accounting positions. To become an accountant, you need strengths that allow you to think outside the box and make careful decisions that potentially save companies and individuals hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. If you have strong analytic skills, pay close attention to details and enjoy working with numbers, this career path might be right for you.
An accountant might analyze individual and company financial records to determine the best strategies for saving money on tax returns. They also advise clients about payroll decisions, investments and long-term financial strategies. If you have a passion for detail, especially details that relate to numbers, accounting might be a good field for you. For example, if you enjoy balancing your check book, like to calculate your own personal tax return or get excited hunting for discounts with coupons and other promotions, you already have some strengths that make for an effective accountant career.
Accountants rely on their left-brained strengths to make statistical comparisons, analyze numbers and compute difficult mathematical equations. Since many accounting transactions have black-and-white answers, accountants often chase discrepencies to find errors. These problem-solving responsibilities require logical left-brain analysis of income statements, deductions and tax codes. The ability to hunt for and find concrete answers is a strength for accountants. If you keep the books for your household and make most of the financial decisions, you may be on the right track.
Even though accountants spend a lot of time working alone, they must be able to communicate and interact with clients and coworkers. The workload often requires working as a team to gather information, address client needs and solve complicated tax return issues. You don't have to be a socialite and the life of the party, but you need strong interpersonal skills to help you develop working relationships with clients and staff. According to Everest College, even though accountancy is mostly a numbers job, you have to explain those numbers to clients and employers. You need to write and speak effectively and have an outwardly friendly nature.
Comfortability with Accounting Software
Before you pursue a career as an accountant, make sure you're reasonably comfortable with computers and computer software programs. You don't have to know how each accounting program works because you'll learn that through education and hands-on training. However, you must have a working knowledge of computers and software programs so you can research new tax laws, perform accounting functions and create financial reports. Bookkeeping, tax preparation and financial analysis require accounting software. If you've used software to keep track of your personal finances and feel comfortable doing Internet research, you already have some of the necessary computer skills to become an accountant.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.