Few organisations run a smooth operation or are in a position to grow successfully over time without an accountant managing the finances. But accountants do more than review the financials and become, in some instances, trusted advisors. They can choose to take on general or specialist roles and the work can be varied and incredibly meaningful as they help both individuals and enterprises maintain and improve their financial health.
Let’s find out more about what accountants do. We’ll also take a closer look at different accountant roles and give you a general idea of the key skills required, the average accountant salary and the best accounting courses to get you started on this exciting career path.
A month in the life of an accountant
If you choose to take on a role as an accountant, you’ll be involved in the financial tasks and reporting that are crucial for compliance and the success of an individual or enterprise. Depending on the scope of your job, you may also be able to add value by offering financial advice that can transform or grow businesses or optimise an individual’s financial position. Accountants can work for local firms, in corporate businesses, banking, for government or become freelance accountants supporting clients in different countries and time zones.
With the world changing rapidly and businesses having to move quickly to keep up, no two days will ever look the same no matter which type of accountant role you choose to take on. Depending on the type and size of a client or organisation, their current financial state and short to long-term goals, these are some of the more common, but certainly not the only, tasks you’ll perform as your client’s or company’s financial powerhouse:
- Provide advice concerning the financial health of individuals or businesses.
- Review profit and loss, advise on cost savings to increase or maintain a healthy cash flow.
- Make sure your client is tax-compliant, which means correctly lodging taxes on time with all obligations met.
- Oversee payroll, including processing weekly or monthly runs and maintaining payroll data.
- Create budgets to help businesses operate more efficiently and plan for the future.
- Review accounts payable and receivables.
- Identify, measure, analyse and interpret accounting information that helps business leaders or owners make sound financial decisions and efficiently manage their daily operations.
As business experts, accountants deal with a variety of exciting challenges in the course of their work. While some may take on general roles, many choose to specialise in an area they find particularly interesting. Let’s take a look at some of these specialties.
Different types of accountants
When thinking about an accounting career, consider the type of work you’d like to do every day. Here are some ideas.
Financial Accountants: Specialise in summarising, analysing and reporting on a business’s financial transactions, including preparing financial statements.
Cost Accountants: Focus on the costs of running a business and help leaders to make strategic decisions for the short to long-term success of an enterprise.
Managerial Accountants: Pay attention to the management of a business and will need good communication skills and knowledge of people management.
Not-for-profit Accountants: While this is a niche accounting career choice, non-profit accountants are familiar with the requirements and regulations governing non-profit organisations and ensure they operate effectively while meeting their financial obligations.
Government Accountants: Government entities receive public funds and grants, so a government accountant must understand the fiscal environment and operate accordingly.
Auditors: These roles are reactive rather than proactive as auditors look for errors and inconsistencies in financial statements. For auditing purposes, companies can hire internal or external auditors.
Tax Accountants: Manage compliance standards and help organisations and individuals stay up to date with tax obligations and legalities.
Chartered Accountants: The depth and breadth of their experience, including a deeper understanding of complex accounting and taxation matters, allows them to expertly guide organisations towards financial success.
SMSF Accountants : Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are a type of retirement fund usually run by members for their own benefit. SMSF accountants provide professional administration and tax compliance services.
Since accounting professionals have formal accounting qualifications and often continue to study to move ahead in their careers, they can earn as much as six figures per annum, depending on their experience and education. According to Payscale, the average a year.
Important accountant skills
While being good with numbers will form the foundation of any accounting role, keep in mind that accounting training can provide you with the many different skills you’ll need to become an efficient accountant or follow a speciality of your choice.
General accounting skills include an aptitude for numbers if studying towards a degree, but you can start out with a high school understanding of financial calculations and principles if working towards an accounting certification. You’ll need to be able to analyse and interpret numbers from data in a way that is useful to a business.
Besides being financially savvy and adept with numbers, an accountant must also have good interpersonal and management skills. This will allow you to explain finances and communicate effectively with your colleagues and clients.
Since you may be working with complex financial matters and obligations, it is also important to have problem-solving skills, understand how to act ethically in all situations and, since you will have to work long hours at certain times of the year, during audits and tax season, for example, you will need to be committed and have excellent time management skills.
Studying to become an accountant
To work as an accountant, you will need to have a formal qualification while also continuing your education throughout your career with accounting certifications to stay up to date with the latest accounting standards, legislation and tax law, software and developments pertinent to the financial industry. Short course accountant training is an excellent way to do this, whether you want to get up to speed with cloud accounting software such as , and or benefit from a deeper understanding of the ethical frameworks and practices of accounting professionals.
If you’re looking to kickstart your career, or you’re not even sure yet whether you’d prefer an accounting or bookkeeping career, a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping FSN40217 online accounting course is a good place to start. This accounting certification will give you a solid foundation in the key accounting and bookkeeping fundamentals.
The is the gold standard for accounting professionals in Australia. This highly sought-after credential is aimed at professionals already working in the accounting industry, who would like to explore more thoroughly: provisional financial and business performance information, preparing budgets and forecasts, comprehending taxation documentation for individuals and legal entities, management reporting, and professional application of emotional intelligence.
For those looking to upskill, the will give you a competitive edge with training in business activity statements (BAS), instalment activity, and payroll system maintenance.
will allow you to apply an understanding of the ethical frameworks and practices of accounting professionals in Australia, understand emotional intelligence application, and identify and manage challenging behaviours in the workplace.
A note on navigating your career path
These are just a handful of examples. Deciding the best accounting courses to take that will set you on the right career path can be daunting, but we’re here to help. The was created to support those who want to get ahead in the accounting and bookkeeping industry by offering the latest online accounting courses and thinking from industry experts to help you move your career forward and stay relevant every step of the way. today to find out how we can partner with you to walk the exciting path ahead.