Become an Accountant
Do you wish to become an expert in Accounting? If you look to pursue a career in accounting it requires formal education, advanced certification and commitment to learn the trade.
Along the path, you will need to answer questions such as: “Do I have the qualities to become a successful accountant?” “Can I have a successful career after my graduation?” “Should I take up work or would I be able to work on my own?”
All such questions require you to understand your strengths and weaknesses to work accordingly. As an accountant you’ll not only learn how to record books and manage accounts but also be able to apply such knowledge to manage your personal finance. A degree in accountancy opens up the pathway for a career as an auditor, forensic accountant, tax consultant and many other job options.
In case you are interested in pursuing your career as an accountant, here’s how you can do it.
How To Become An Accountant
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Earn a bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is the minimum requirement in case you plan to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
You can take-up advanced accounting courses besides the bachelor’s degree in subjects such as taxation, auditing, financial reporting and other business areas.
Choose a Specialization
All accountants usually take up one or more areas of specialization. The common areas of specialization include business accounting and public accounting.
Other specializations include internal auditing, managerial accounting, environmental accounting and taxation. Often the specialty is based on the accounting degree you have earned.
Decide between a CPA and an accountant
There is a difference between the two. Accountants, also known as public accountants are individuals who are hired to work in the accounting department of an organization. They perform a limited number of tasks such as only the preparation of financial statements.
A CPA on the other hand should meet requirements such as passing all the required parts of a CPA exam and work for a certain number of hours under a licensed CPA. They can perform all the tasks of an accountant but can additionally review statements, conduct audits and even represent clients.
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Know about various exams and certifications
There are various accounting certifications available in order to advance your career. Some of the most popular include the following:
- Certified public accountant – A commonly held certification which tests your abilities related to risk management, forensic accounting, tax compliance and similar accounting skills.
- Certified financial analyst – CFA verifies your financial knowledge and portfolio management abilities along with knowledge of economics and investment analysis.
- Certified management accountant – The CMA certification demonstrates your mastery of cost management, internal control auditing and financial management skills.
- Certified financial services auditor – This certification verifies if a candidate has the required skills to work in organisations such as banks and insurance companies.
- Certified internal auditor – The CIA certification demonstrates abilities in risk control and is accepted in case you wish to pursue a career as an internal auditor.
- Certified fraud examiner – This certification is useful for professionals who focus on demonstrating their ability in areas such as financial transaction, fraud prevention and investigation.
Take up an entry-level job
Try to secure an internship to get a pump into your resume. Take the necessary steps to add relevant experience on your resume. When it’s time to apply for an entry-level position, you can have a jump start.
Check out sites such as LinkedIn to watch out for job opportunities and search sites created for new graduates to scout for job postings.
Build Your Career
Once you secure your first job, it is the time to build your career. Earning a certification related to accounting or a master’s degree can help provide a career boost.
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At the basic level, accountants maintain and inspect accounts for businesses, governments and various other clients.
While an associate degree is available, most professionals in this field have a bachelor’s degree. With more experience and completing specialized certifications, accountants have access to greater opportunities to advance their career or specialize in various areas such as taxation or forensic accounting.
Top 7 Accounting Job Roles
With different career options available, graduates can choose a starting point based on the area of their interest.
An auditor is involved in sifting through the financial records to help companies, organisations and individuals, assuring that they are observing the tax laws. They ensure that a company follows the required procedures, methods and statutory compliance.
2) Fraud Examiner
Students opting for a career as a fraud examiner have an interesting and varied set of career opportunities. In case you look to work for government agencies, you’ll be appointed as an external investigator in charge of auditing the account of public companies for detecting any fraud or misappropriation of funds.
While on the other hand, if you work with corporate, you will have the chance to examine internal books of accounts and ensure regulatory compliance.
3) Corporate Tax Accountant
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These professionals work with organisations ranging from small businesses to large enterprises and prepare tax documentation as per the rules and regulations. Corporate tax accountants work to develop strategies to manage the financial records and ensure best practices while preparing the tax statements.
4) Fraud Consultant
They work with different organisations and have a deep understanding of fraudulent behavior. The projects involved include locating hidden assets, gathering of intelligence and identifying any gaps or loopholes in financial data.
5) Tax Consultant
Consultants work specifically in the field of taxation and provide up to date advice on tax-related issues to different clients and ensure tax compliance for individuals as well as organisations.
6) Forensic Accountant
Forensic account specialist research to track the funds and identify any misuse of funds. They also analyse the financial data to create reports related to the financial findings and locate any shortcomings.
7) Auditing Manager
Rather than working on auditing activities, managers related to this field oversee the work of other auditors and spend time on the bigger and more complex problems. They also serve as a leader to the auditing team and ensure coordination among the team members, for projects assigned to them.
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Skills Required to be a Successful Accountant
Accountants must excel at math. They must also possess excellent analytical and communication skills. You must gain more in-depth financial knowledge to handle personal finance efficiently. Also, strong organizational skills are important to coordinate with team members and to manage client’s data.
Accounting records need to be maintained thoroughly as business decisions rely on the usefulness of financial data. Lack of records or missing data can impact the company’s stability and may also have legal repercussions.
An accounting degree gives your career a solid start as it is a stable and growing field. Virtually every business requires an accountant or an entire team to manage the finances. As an accountant, you have the chance for professional growth and career advancement with gaining additional certifications such as becoming a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA).
As accounting is everywhere, you have the chance to work anywhere from corporates to government organisations. Therefore, you have the flexibility as well as the stability required for a successful career if you choose accounting as a career.