Tax accountants don't usually have to worry about unclean, hazardous or noisy working conditions, but the job often requires late hours, seasonal spikes in the workload and hours of research. If you're a public accountant, you might have to travel to client offices to discuss a company's finances or advise management on their tax obligations. Most tax accountants have desk jobs in office settings, so a majority of your time is spent on your computer using accounting software or doing extensive research on current tax laws.
Accountants usually work in an office setting. Unless you're a self-employed accountant and work from home, you can expect an office structure with staff, management and top-level partners, business owners or government officials. You might need to travel to a client's location to gather information, review financial statements or deliver financial reports, but you'll likely encounter another office setting when you get there. Some accounting firms provide cubicles for their employees, while others offer workstations or separate individual offices.
Peak and Valley Workload
You'll often hear accountants refer to the "busy season," "the peak season" or the "tax season" when speaking of government-mandated tax deadlines for individuals and corporations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, longer hours are typical at certain times of the year, such as at the end of the budget year or during tax season. February, March and April are peak months preparing for March 15 deadlines for corporate returns and April 15 deadlines for individual returns. October through January are usually slower by comparison, but end-of-the-year tax decisions and first-of-the-year financial strategy sessions keep accountants billable and on the clock.
Even though accountants sometimes work alone on tax returns, audits and research, much of the job requires teamwork. Preparing, analyzing and filing financial documents often requires gathering information from other accountants who are working on the same account. Accountants often meet with clients to discuss long-term financial strategies and review financial records. The stereotypical asocial job description doesn't always fit the real-life requirements of the job. It's not uncommon for accountants to attend in-house meetings and client meetings on a consistent, weekly basis. According to the University of West Florida publication "Team Building 101 for Accountants," accountants are "required to speak, listen and work as team members with people of diverse backgrounds."
Understanding of Accounting Software
A strong understanding of accounting software is a fundamental work expectation, because you’re likely to spend long hours on your computer using these software programs to enter financial data. You'll also be required to research and study new tax announcements, usually available online. Some accounting firms provide laptop computers so employees can work from home when necessary. You'll likely be assigned to a particular office or work space, with your own individual computer and necessary desk supplies.
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.