What does it take to become an accountant? Our guide

Isabella Goode

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Accountants are needed by businesses and individuals in almost every industry for a variety of financial services. It is a career path with a positive outlook, plenty of job security, and many career opportunities including self-employment.

accountants guide

What does it take to become an accountant? Our guide. Source: shutterstock.com

What do accountants do?

An accountant is a financial professional specializing in various aspects of both personal and business finances. Accounting is a career that involves the measuring and management of financial information to help business owners, managers, investors and other individuals make better financial decisions. Accountants may monitor and report company financial performance, track business transactions, prepare financial statements and documents, and more.

How much does an accountant earn?

How much you can earn as an accountant will depend on a number of factors including your educational level, how much experience you have in the field, any professional certifications that you have, and if you have an area of specialty that is more in-demand than others. On average, salaries for accountants in the US range from $14,000 to $120,000 annually, with the average salary coming in at just under $55,000 per year.

What education do accountants need?

While it is not always mandatory, most accountants will have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field such as finance or math. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for certified public accountants, while some states might require certified public accountants to gain further advanced qualifications in areas such as taxes, financial reporting and auditing. Many certified public accountants will also gain a relevant master’s degree in accounting.

How to become an accountant

While it is not always necessary for some accounting positions, getting a relevant bachelor’s degree is the best first step towards becoming an accountant. Even if a particular accounting career position does not require higher education, a bachelor’s degree can help you stand out among the competition and potentially earn more in the future.

Once you have gained a bachelor’s degree, you should get as much experience as possible through internships and entry-level positions to boost your resume and improve your employability. This will also provide you with some experience that you can use to determine where your area of specialty is going to be, for example, whether you want to work in public or corporate accounting, or whether you will work with a narrower specialty field such as auditing or taxes.

Starting your own accounting firm

While you do not need any qualifications to start your own accounting firm, you may find that your business enjoys a better reputation and more trust if you can back up your skills and knowledge with relevant qualifications such as a bachelor’s degree and professional certifications. There are several further things to think about if you want to start your own accounting company, including accountant liability insurance, which is designed to protect you financially if a client sues you for damages. No matter how thorough you are when it comes to double-checking your work and avoiding mistakes, you cannot guarantee that they won’t happen, and having insurance coverage in place will provide you with the peace of mind that you need while running and building your own firm.

Furthering your education

No matter whether you decide to find a career as an accountant working for a business or a financial firm, or decide to become your own boss and start your own accounting firm, there are many benefits to pursuing even further education. Many successful accountants do not end their education after graduating with a bachelor’s degree and passing any necessary exams for the career path that they have chosen. Continuing your education over time is key to becoming a successful accountant, especially if you work mainly with businesses, since the business world is subject to constant change. New technologies such as accounting software are being introduced all the time, so further formal and informal information is the best way to ensure that you stay up to date and ahead of the curve as an accountant.

If you are good with numbers and are looking for a career that’s secure, has plenty of opportunities, and gives you the option to either work in employment or be self-employed, accounting could be ideal for you.

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