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Career profile Accountant

Also known as Accountant, Accounting Officer, Audit Partner, Auditor, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Cost Accountant, Financial Auditor, General Accountant, Internal Auditor, Revenue Tax Specialist

Accountant

Also known as Accountant, Accounting Officer, Audit Partner

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$45,220 - $128,680 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Mathematics
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Review data about material assets, net worth, liabilities, capital stock, surplus, income, or expenditures.
  • Process invoices for payment.
  • Prepare, analyze, or verify annual reports, financial statements, and other records, using accepted accounting and statistical procedures to assess financial condition and facilitate financial planning.
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What does an Accountant do?

Accountants examine, analyze, and interpret accounting records to prepare financial statements, give advice, or audit and evaluate statements prepared by others.

In addition, Accountants install or advise on systems of recording costs or other financial and budgetary data.

What kind of tasks does an Accountant perform regularly?

Accountants are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Prepare detailed reports on audit findings.
  • Report to management about asset utilization and audit results, and recommend changes in operations and financial activities.
  • Inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency, effectiveness, and use of accepted accounting procedures to record transactions.
  • Collect and analyze data to detect deficient controls, duplicated effort, extravagance, fraud, or non-compliance with laws, regulations, and management policies.
  • Supervise auditing of establishments, and determine scope of investigation required.
  • Examine and evaluate financial and information systems, recommending controls to ensure system reliability and data integrity.
  • Confer with company officials about financial and regulatory matters.
  • Prepare adjusting journal entries.
  • Inspect cash on hand, notes receivable and payable, negotiable securities, and canceled checks to confirm records are accurate.
  • Examine records and interview workers to ensure recording of transactions and compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Prepare, examine, or analyze accounting records, financial statements, or other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards.
  • Review accounts for discrepancies and reconcile differences.
  • Examine inventory to verify journal and ledger entries.
  • Establish tables of accounts and assign entries to proper accounts.
  • Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice.
  • Report to management regarding the finances of establishment.
  • Develop, implement, modify, and document recordkeeping and accounting systems, making use of current computer technology.
  • Evaluate taxpayer finances to determine tax liability, using knowledge of interest and discount rates, annuities, valuation of stocks and bonds, and amortization valuation of depletable assets.
  • Examine whether the organization's objectives are reflected in its management activities, and whether employees understand the objectives.
  • Audit payroll and personnel records to determine unemployment insurance premiums, workers' compensation coverage, liabilities, and compliance with tax laws.

The above responsibilities are specific to Accountants. More generally, Accountants are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is an Accountant salary?

The median salary for an Accountant is $73,560, and the average salary is $81,660. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Accountant salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Accountants earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Accountants earn less than $45,220 per year, 25% earn less than $57,110, 75% earn less than $97,530, and 90% earn less than $128,680.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Accountants is expected to change by 6.9%, and there should be roughly 135,000 open positions for Accountants every year.

Median annual salary
$73,560
Typical salary range
$45,220 - $128,680
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.9%

What personality traits are common among Accountants?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Accountant are usually higher in their Conventional and Enterprising interests.

Accountants typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Accountants typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Accountant tend to value Independence, Achievement, and Support.

Most importantly, Accountants strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Accountants strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Accountants moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Accountants must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Accountants, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Accountants need?

Many Accountants will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Accountants usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Accountants

  • 3.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 5.5% completed some college coursework
  • 8.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 57.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 23.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.0% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Accountants

Accountants may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as economics and accounting, mathematics, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Accountants might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Economics and Accounting
Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Important Abilities needed by Accountants

Accountants must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Accountants need abilities such as deductive reasoning, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Accountants, ranked by their relative importance.

Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Mathematical Reasoning
The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Number Facility
The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

Critical Skills needed by Accountants

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Accountants frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Accountants, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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