Expectations can make or break a situation. Whether it’s a relationship, an event, or a job, your experience of it can be largely shaped by your expectations going in. Too high expectations or too low expectations can lead to conflict, dissatisfaction, poor communication, frustration, and all sorts of problems. If you’re considering accounting as a potential career, then you need to know what to expect.
Typical Job Description of an Accountant
No resource can give you clues as to the expectations and day-to-day experiences like job descriptions. Here’s how a typical job description of an accountant might look:
We’re looking for an accountant/bookkeeper to accurately reconcile our business accounts. This includes bank statements, credit cards, and auditing of quarterly, monthly, and yearly accounts. Your responsibilities will include preparing and analyzing our financial accounts and reporting on financial discrepancies and inaccuracies. Also must present an annual report to our Board of Directors. Must have thorough knowledge of all relevant standards from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Bachelor’s degree and/or CPA certified preferred. Familiarity with Excel, QuickBooks, and similar software required.
To fulfill the duties of an accountant, you need strengths in:
- Integrity and rule-following
- High ethical IQ
- Numerical analysis
- Presentation skills
- Ability to make complex concepts simple
- Computer skills
You can expect each of these elements and strengths to be mentioned in the job description of an accountant. If you’re weak in any of these areas, getting the right education can help. Find more information here.
Other Duties of an Accountant
An accountant’s other duties vary depending on the type of business they serve, whether they work in the government or not, whether they’re a part of a team, and the size of the business which they serve.
For example, if you’d like to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and work for a government agency, you can expect to complete a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) every year. While an annual report for a business can be 30 pages long, a CAFR can be up to 300 pages long. Additionally, government CPAs conduct performance audits, routine financial audits, compliance audits, and investigative audits. On the other hand, if you work for a non-profit, your work will revolve around the cost of services provided and reconciling that with donations, rather than revolving around revenue and profits.
If you want to work for a larger corporation, you’ll probably serve with a team of other accountants. The duties of an accountant in that situation typically center on a particular department in the business rather than the business as a whole. Therefore, can you work as a team player? Can you work well under someone? If not, if you’re more the independent type, then having a private practice might be best for you.
If you’d like more information on the duties of an accountant and the different types of accountants, check out this link.
More Examples of What an Accountant Does
As you can imagine, the day-to-day work of an accountant tends to be highly structured and follows routines. From conducting regimented audits to following the monthly accounting cycle, don’t go to work expecting a completely different and new experience every day. What do we mean by “monthly accounting cycle”? The cycle includes eight steps, which proceed as follows:
- Aggregating transactions
- Reviewing journal entries
- Trial balance
- Completing worksheets
- Adjusting journal entries
- Preparation of financial statements
- Closing the books for the month
You can expect to go through this process every month. If you value routine, predictability, and consistency, then you’ve found an occupation for you. However, if you’re bored simply reading this, then you should look for a different career!
Regardless, as methodological as the occupation can be, the cycle gets interrupted twice a year with tax season. If you work for a corporation, during the first cycle from February 15 to April 15, the tax return for the calendar year is due March 15. Then, if you work at an independent accounting firm, you will work with a team through September and October to complete numerous tax returns for your clients.
For one last example of what an accountant does, the day may also get interrupted if a client needs an audit report ASAP. You’ll need to be prepared for certain disruptions like that, and plan in advance to tackle tax season.
If you’d like more in-depth information on accounting, click here.
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