The job of an accountant, is, to literally manage the accounts of a firm or a company. They manage all the company's financial data and analyse it to make the company perform better by studying flow patterns and trends in the company's accounts data. They manage all records of the company's profits, revenues, expenditures, salaries and products. While this may seem like a simple job, an accountant is entitled to much more detailed work, and has in-depth detailed knowledge of the company's financial conditions.
The common duties of an accountant are self explanatory, but let's talk in detail. Accountants prepare asset, liability and account entries by analyzing and studying finance and accounts data compiled in the company. They manage the company accounts by overseeing transactions, buyouts, mergers, finances, spending, taxation, profit and loss. Accountants study the whole financial situation of a company and prepare a detailed report with the help of a balance sheet, profit and loss statement and other related reports.
Accountants mostly have the complete authority to control accounts and recommend policies to the company to bring up a better profit margin over the fiscal year. It is also their job to check out any financial discrepancies in the company records, and see to it that every single penny from the company's money went in to the right place that it was designed for. They work with local, federal and financial laws to study if the company has mistakenly or knowingly evaded tax, or if money is being embezzled. Accountants must stay up-to-date with complete financial legislation updates because it is their job to check if any company has properly filed complete taxes or not.
Accountants are expected to have complete knowledge of data entry and management. Also, since they handle company accounts and finances, they have in-depth knowledge of the company's credentials, profits and losses over any given specific period of time. This puts them at a risk of carrying potential information that could blacklist a company. This is why accountants are expected to keep confidential information to themselves, and company's usually get some agreements signed with them.
Being an accountant requires a degree with accounts as a subject major, or a degree completely based on accounts. Some countries in the south Asia region have accounts and finance as a pair for degrees, and this is a great way for most accountants to find jobs that are completely true to this field. Subjects like accounts, business studies and economics help a great deal in being an expert in this field, and these subjects are often requirements set out by companies when searching for accountants. People who want to follow accounts as a career also need to study maths as a subject, and English as well in most countries around the world.
Accounting is a very vast field, and has a lot of relations to other legal issues of a company like taxation and taxation laws, business laws and ethics, finance and economics and much more. An individual who has mastered any of these fields, or has basic knowledge of the code of conduct and regularities, can find it much easier to find a job as an accountant, since all these points are fairly beneficial to them. Another branch of accounting, is Chartered Accountancy. It is a tougher certification, that has a more in-depth study, mostly of audit related research, and goes alongside a full-employment in an audit firm. Chartered accountants get paid more, have a better demand in the market, and have better opportunities. However, combined with full time employment at an accounting firm, and the on-going exams of this field, makes it very tough to achieve in a short span of time. Changes in laws have made this field to be at least 5 years of studying ideally.
Some commonly required skills of an accountant are as follows:
- Honesty and integrity
- Attention to detail
- Business interest
- Communication and team-working skills
- Ability to work under strict deadlines and heavy workload
- Ability to use IT proficiently
- Good knowledge of spreadsheets and accounting
- Good grasp on problem solving and numeracy
In the USA in 2016, the average American annual salary for an accountant was $68,150. This is quite good compared to most other fields and the years of experience required to make this amount of money. The top 10 percent of accountants earned somewhere a little over $120,000 a year, while the lowest paid accountants, usually the newer recruits, were paid around $42000 annually.
By the year 2026, the field of accounting is expected to grow as much as 10 percent than what it is now, and the number of jobs to increase is expected to be around 140,000 new jobs.
Accountants have a lot of heavy workload in bigger companies, and have to crunch numbers all day long going through file after file. However, with the heavy workload, combined with the confidentiality related to their jobs, accountants are given better benefits than other employees. The Big 4 accounting companies, provide extra care and benefits to their employees who are sent to audit companies. These firms also give out extra money and benefits when their employees are travelling abroad or out of city.
This makes accountants grow higher in demand and respect. Their level of importance can be judged when other companies, who hire them from their firms to get an audit done, are always at service for these accountants. Even companies who hire accountants for themselves as regular employees, pay them more and give them added benefits for doing their job right. This, however, also comes with a huge responsibility tied to the job.