Accountant Job Description: What Does an Accountant Do?

You probably know that accountants manage money and make a pretty good living doing it but you might be wondering what that actually looks like on a day to day basis.

The truth is that an accountant’s duties depend largely on the size of the company they work for and many specialize in a certain type of accounting. Still, there are some duties almost all accountants can expect to find themselves doing.

Here’s what you’ll do as an accountant:

  • Prepare and analyze financial statements, accounting records and any other related documents to assess completeness, accuracy and compliance with local and federal reporting laws
  • Calculate taxes owed based on existing financial documents and file the company’s taxes
  • Assess business operations, trends, costs, revenue streams and other important data to create a projected revenue amount for the year ahead
  • Create tables of accounts and organize things in the correct accounts
  • Based on existing financial documents and planned business operations create a budget and monitor finances to make sure they stay reasonably close to the budget
  • Report all finances to management, particularly any large discrepancies
  • Create and implement logical accounting and record keeping systems using existing computer technology
  • Create or update forms/manuals for other accounting and bookkeeping staff
  • Testify on behalf of your clients to taxing authorities and aid them during litigation of any financial problems
  • Appraise and evaluate inventory, real estate and equipment, recording details such as the property’s description, value and location
  • Give management advice related to issues such as resource utilization, employee healthcare benefits, how data processing systems and accounting systems are designed and long range tax/estate plans

Accountants may also find work as IRS agents or take criminal justice courses to become forensic accountants. Forensic accountants examine financial records to find evidence for criminal or civil court cases.

How much do accountants usually get paid?

Most accountants make between $60,000 and $65,000 per year but this depends a lot on where you live and what type of company you work for. Size is also a factor as larger companies can sometimes afford to pay their accountants quite a bit more.

What kind of education do you need to become an accountant?

There are some exceptions but most companies will only hire people who have a bachelor’s degree in accounting. If you want to be able to file taxes you will also have to take a separate exam provided by the IRS. CPAs are required to take a separate licensing exam as well.

What skills does an accountant need?

Other than the ability to understand numbers and financial concepts the most important skill an accountant can have is the ability to notice even tiny details and discrepancies. Accuracy is crucial to an accountant’s job.

It’s also important to be fluent with computers and not just the accounting/spreadsheet software the company you work for uses. Accounting software is apt to change and every company uses something different so learning different types of software will give you an edge when you’re applying for jobs.

Organization is the other big thing all accountants absolutely need to do their job. While excellent communication skills can put you ahead average communication skills won’t ruin your career. Anything less than excellent organization might. You have to not only keep track of all the records but be able to understand them and have them organized in a way that other staff can find them if necessary.

What opportunities do accountants have for advancement?

There are many opportunities to advance your career as an accountant, whether you move to a new company which offers a better salary, create your own firm or choose to specialize in a specific type of accounting. If you don’t get your CPA right away getting the licence later can give your income a big boost.

The demand for accountants is set to grow steadily over the next ten years. With new businesses popping up every day you can almost always take your pick of the jobs available rather than simply applying to anything you see. If you have a head for numbers and strong organizational skills becoming an accountant is an excellent career choice.

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