Companies in many industries use internal or external accountants to help them with their financial documents. Because of this, accounting professionals often have a wide range of skills to help them perform their duties. Learning about some of the most common tasks these professionals do can help you determine whether this is the right job for you.
In this article, we define what an account is, list seven tasks they often perform and explain how you can get a job in this industry.
What is an accountant?
An accountant is a financial professional who performs various financial duties, such as managing their client’s bookkeeping and managing their financial documents. While some work for accounting firms or internal departments, others may have their own practices. These professionals also can have various specialties that allow them to become experts in certain financial procedures or work in specific industries. Their main role is to analyze financial data, records and reports to help ensure businesses or organizations operate efficiently and within a budget.
Some common types of accountants include:
Auditors ensure organizations have an accurate account of their financial information. To ensure the company’s compliance with financial regulations, they review financial statements, accounting systems, books and various fiscal records. Using their financial knowledge, they advise companies facing financial issues to help them resolve these issues or to help them from reoccurring in the future.
Financial advisers provide financial planning and investment services to the general public and various organizations. They meet with the clients to discuss their finances, create plans to help them improve their financial goals and make modifications to their plans as needed.
Investment accountants work outside of the tax realm. Investment accountants often work with an investment brokerage firm or an asset management firm. While they know the basics of accounting, they also know the organization’s investment opportunities. Investment accountants also ensure their organization complies with both state and federal regulations. Also, they work with their organizations to help them improve their financial strategy.
7 common accounting tasks and duties
Regardless of their industry or specialization, there are many duties most accounting professionals perform. Some of the most common include:
1. Document financial transactions
Accountants monitor and document their client’s or company’s financial transactions for a certain period. They gather information to prepare the entries into a company’s general ledger. These professionals also work to ensure the information on these documents is accurate and complies with any relevant regulations or laws.
2. Resolve discrepancies
Because accountants review their client’s or company’s financial documents, they also resolve any discrepancies or irregularities they find. This involves reconciling reports, statements or other various transactions the company has documented. This can help their company save money and avoid any issues when filing or disclosing financial documents.
3. Monitor the efficiency of accounting procedures and programs
Apart from analyzing financial documents, accountants also review accounting software programs and accounting control procedures to ensure their continued effectiveness. They also ensure these programs and procedures meet current state and federal regulations. This can help make their work processes more efficient, which can increase productivity and save money.
4. Advise companies regarding financial problems
Accountants often make recommendations to companies regarding their resources, procedures and the financial issues they’re facing. They use their knowledge and expertise to determine any areas of risk and try to provide solutions to help the company avoid issues. This advice can help companies stay compliant with regulations or simply help them make some processes more efficient.
5. Prepare and review invoices
Some accountants prepare and review their customer’s or vendor’s invoices. This typically involves payroll reconciliation, verifying both orders and contracts and collecting receivables. Senior-level accountants may also develop company budgets and create financial models to further help them make strategic financial decisions.
6. Prepare a company’s year-end financial statement
If a business follows a calendar accounting year, accountants may prepare and analyze its end-of-year financial statements, such as its balance sheet, cash flow statement and profit-and-loss statement. Doing this gives them greater insight into the company’s financial health, which allows them to provide more relevant and helpful advice when consulting with the company’s management. When accountants prepare these statements, it also helps ensure they’re accurate and contain all the necessary information.
7. Submit a company’s annual tax return
Depending on the business, an accountant may submit a company’s tax return in March or April. Because the company typically pays business taxes each quarter, its annual tax return is for informational purposes and covers any taxes the company didn’t pay throughout the year. Accountants to do this ensure the filing process follows all guidelines and helps the company avoid audits.
Tips for getting a job in accounting
If you’re interested in becoming an accountant, having the right qualifications can benefit you greatly. Consider these tips to get a job in accounting:
Earn a degree. Getting a degree in accounting, business or finance can help you prepare for a career in accounting. Many accountants have at least a bachelor’s degree, though some pursue an advanced degree to help them develop a specialty or pursue management positions.
Pursue certifications. Earning certifications can help you increase your knowledge and improve your chances of finding a job. State boards of accountancy provide professionals with licenses to become certified public accountants, which is one of the most common and important certifications for this profession.
Improve your skills. Because they have varied responsibilities, accountants often have a combination of soft and hard skills that allow them to succeed. Some of the most important skills to have include attention to detail, computer literacy, communication, data analysis, critical thinking and mathematics.
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