Qualifications Needed to become an Accountant
A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in accounting is a start but a Master’s degree is preferred. A Master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting is also useful because it provides a broader range of knowledge on how a business is run and the role of accounting in it. Continual professional education is required during the working life of the accountant and this can take the form of courses, conferences or seminars. The qualifications for accountancy are stringent and vary from country to country.
Someone less qualified but who shows potential might be employed in a minor capacity but working under the supervision of a qualified accountant. Advancement for such an entrant can come through demonstrating their skill and accuracy and obviously by taking further exams.
Only someone who is a certified public accountant can file a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission by law. At the same time anyone who has passed the national exams and also meets other criteria can become a certified public accountant (CPA).
While normally a college degree is required, sometimes years of experience will suffice for certification.
All US States use the same four part exam which is tough. Fewer than half pass the first time but all four parts do not have to be passed at the same time. A window of eighteen months is the usually expected time for completion. The exam is computerized and offered every two months.
Continual professional education is required for the regular renewal of the qualification. Accountants and auditors can obtain credentials from a number of professional societies such as the Institute of Management Accountants which confers the title Certified Management Accountant on applicants who successfully pass the exam.
Accountancy is detailed work which requires patience and a capacity to sort out small issues and solve problems of sums which have been put into the wrong account. It’s pernickety work and often time consuming.
Personal characteristics are also an asset. An aptitude for mathematics and interpret facts and figures easily are helpful qualities. The ability to analyze and make comparisons is useful. From this comes the need to be able to communicate with those who need this information by putting the information into language which non accountants can understand. Both verbal and written forms need to be clear and precise and the integrity of the accountant is vital.
Business financial decisions are made on the basis of the accountants understanding of the money situation, taxation benefits and other considerations for the advancement of any organization, so it is important for the accountant to be clear in how they interpret and transmit this information.
A familiarity with computers and basic accounting packages is also necessary because most accounting processes are now automated. Being able to use and understand the various applications is worthwhile as well as being able to sort out the snags which occur with this technology.
It is worthwhile for students to work part time on an internship conducted by a public accounting or business firm. In other words, previous experience is a useful asset. Until theory is put into practice, and seen to work, it is difficult to be sure it is right.
Associated with formally qualified accountants and auditors are those individuals who, while less qualified, perform a useful service for small businesses such as bookkeepers. While an entrepreneur might be brilliant at what he or she does, few businesses survive without good control of the money. This is why accountancy, and it’s associated skills, is so important.
Working Conditions and Further Advancement
Most accountants and auditors work in an office environment but it is sometimes possible to work from home. Many travel to clients for audits and for tax purposes. The usual working week is forty hours but this can be extended depending on the specialty of the accountant and the time of year, for instance when the tax year ends. Because the accountant is experienced in tax details they can ensure their own finances are in a healthy condition. This is also a well paid profession.
Many senior executives have a background in accounting so this is a good starting point for any ambitious individual who wants to rise to the top.
This is a worthwhile and important job and while entry into it is difficult, the benefits for the accountant can be huge. Get started now by browsing through a list of schools that offer an Accounting MBA program.