What Does An Accountant Do?

"I am interested in becoming an accountant. I figure it will pay well and I know I enjoy working with numbers. What is a day in the life of an accountant actually like though? What are the primary and exclusive responsibilities of an accountant? I want to make sure that I am actually up for the task before I commit to the educational path. I am sure it will be a lot of hard work, and while I am up for that, I just want to know that I’m doing the right thing."

asked by Abdul from Montpelier, VT

If you want to become an accountant, you will need to be great at working with numbers. You need to fix conflicting reports and paying close attention to detail. The ability to multitask can also be busy. Most accountants work as a team. They even work with members of other departments too. It’s another plus if you are good at working with people.

Here are some of the day to day responsibilities you can expect to fulfill if you become an accountant:

Prepare profit and loss statements as well as all other accounting reports for your company or client.

These statements communicate clearly what is going on with all the finances of the firm. By viewing these statements, companies are able to make sound financial decisions. This is to ensure the health of the company.

Reconcile reports that do not add up. Discover and correct discrepancies.

It is your job as an accountant to find out if money is disappearing through loopholes, and if so, how. You have to find what those loopholes are and how they can be closed. It is tough to come up with an airtight system for managing money, but it is a very important job.

Create and improve upon accounting procedures so that the accounting process is as consistent as possible.

Oftentimes, the loopholes above are the result of errors in the accounting process. By improving the process itself, you are able to prevent errors in the future. This helps make the job easier for you and your team members.

Analyze reports of profit and loss and other statements to determine the profitability of your company or client.

Determine budget modifications which might improve the company’s bottom line. The more helpful suggestions you can offer, the more money you will ultimately be able to save your company or client. At the end of the day, that is what your job is all about—saving money and generating profit. When you have numbers that can back up your skills, you can demonstrate your value to potential employers.

Monitor accounting activities for accuracy.

This is the job of an auditor. Some review from within the accounting team can prevent discrepancies. Auditors are often confused with accountants. That is because of the similarities of their jobs and skill sets. You probably want to learn more about auditing and not just accounting at this stage. So you can see if you are interested in becoming an auditor as well.

Work with the auditing team (including company auditors and auditors from outside the company) to complete all auditing tasks as necessary.

Teamwork is absolutely essential to the health of any accounting firm. Whether you run your own business or you are a member of an accounting department at a bigger company, you need to have excellent interpersonal skills!

Supervise automated accounting and reporting systems used by your company.

Even though automated systems are there to make accounting tasks easier, and generally work most of the time. They can generate errors. Especially when there are logical loopholes in the accounting procedures. It is important for a human being to monitor these systems to ensure they are performing properly. That way the accounting procedures can continue to produce the most accurate results.

Explain accounting and billing procedures to other members of your staff as needed.

Sometimes you need to act in a leadership role with your team. When new team members are welcomed on board, they will need to be trained in the company’s accounting procedures. Even if they have comprehensive knowledge of accounting, every company has different ways of doing things. There is always an onboarding process which needs to be observed.

Add up cash drawers and transactions for the day (in a retail setting).

This daily task is necessary to keep financial records straight from one day to the next. If it is not performed correctly, errors can accumulate over time. The accounting team can help to spot problem performers if there are register employees who make regular mistakes. Then the company can take action by providing additional training to these employees. This in turn can prevent future errors.

Depending on the work environment where you are employed, you may have different duties mentioned above. The responsibilities listed are very common accounting duties. So while this is not an exhaustive list, it should at least give you some idea as to what you might expect if you decide to become an accountant.

Accountants may work directly for companies or government agencies. They may be self-employed as contractors. Some may work for accounting firms.

I also recommend that you learn about auditing. Auditing is a closely related job and entails many similar duties, performed on a different level. The main difference between accounting and auditing is one of degree; accountants handle day-to-day financial record-keeping and analysis, while auditors check the work of accountants, usually on an annual or quarterly basis.

If you are good at maintaining your own personal books and enjoy doing your own finances, that is a good sign that you have what it takes to become a successful and profitable accountant.

Career Spotlight: Accountant

Accountant

Accountant

An accountant is a person whose profession is inspecting the financial accounts of businesses and individuals. They carefully monitor and record the revenue and expenses of a business. As businesses g[...]

Join The Discussion - 10 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    I was wondering if I am fit for this job. I have always had a love for math and I really want to have that sort of job, but I also love working with small children. Is there a job where I can do both? If so, what’s the best college for that job? Preferably in Texas.

    • maggie says:

      a mathematics teacher?

  2. What an Accountant does, once he or she becomes one…..is one thing for the first 10 years or so. Then…..you gradually begin to change.

    You’re STILL an Accountant…..but you become so much more.

    You become a mentor, a mind-reader, you solve problems that have nothing to do with accounting, you begin to solve problems that haven’t even surfaced yet, you learn how to do things that were never mentioned in College (or the first 10 years), you become more compassionate, more human and find yourself functioning like a salesman, at times…..because you do have to sell yourself and your ideas (even it the ideas are US GAAP).

    It’s a wonderful profession, you become more conservative because you see what it takes to run a business and pay employees good wages and still meet debt obligations and please stockholders and in the end, please yourself!

    A regular work week can be anywhere between 40 and 110 hours a week, depending on the time of year. You’ll have to convince your spouse that somehow your long hours are worth it (after you’ve convinced yourself).

    CPA’s are consistently rated as some of the smartest folks on the planet but don’t let that go to your head. You’ll have up days and down days…..mostly up days!

    I personally LOVE ACCOUNTING. I’ve wanted to be a CPA since I was sixteen.

    What you’ll eventually discover is that you will become all those things you wanted to do when you were a Senior in High School. I wanted to be an Actor, a History Teacher and a CPA. I have become all of those things. The same thing will happen to you. It will just take a few years to get there.

    The main thing is that you help a lot of people along the way. You’re not saving lives (like a Doctor)…..but you’re saving people’s lives in a different way…..by helping them to work for a strong Company, learn new skills, put food on the table, pay their mortgages and their car payments…..and put their children through college.

    You will do all of these things…..and ten thousand more! Enjoy the trip and help EVERYONE who crosses your path!

    Blessings, to you…..
    ~ Benny Wayne Galloway, CPA
    Austin, Texas

    • Kolby Hoang says:

      Thanks Mr. Galloway, I’m a fifteen year old junior college student and being accountant is my dream! This has really inspired me to do better and to actually take many things more seriously, thank you!

    • Cristina Delgado says:

      Wow! I have to say your response has definitely given me more inspiration and motivation! I have just started back in college and going for my Bachelors in accounting. I wasn’t completely sure what daily roles are expected from an accountant, but your answer surely sums it up. Thanks for the posting Mr. Galloway!

    • Kekoa Davis says:

      Thanks a lot Mr.Galloway. I have always wanted to be an accountant and a teacher. I may start with the teaching career, because I love to help children and then I will continue with being and accountant. I will now start to get ready to be what I have always wanted to be.

  3. Lucas Logie says:

    Hello. I am submitting this comment because I want to be an accountant, Thanks for helping me, your website has set my on my life path. I now will endure the responsibility to become an avid, reliable and trustworthy accountant. – Lucas Logie (Churnville, Ontario, Canada)

  4. Shennel says:

    I came across your website searching for someone to tell me that what I am thinking when it comes to accounting is actually right. I have always love handling money, making budgets and much more, even though it took me a while to figure out what job will allow me to do all of that at once. I just want to say thank you because now I know how to explain myself when people ask me why I want to become an accountant.

  5. Masinga says:

    Being an accountant has always been what I wanted to be in life. Regardless of how it pays, I have realized that if I do become an accountant, my passion of helping the poor will prevail. Now that I really know what is expected of me, I just can’t wait to become one.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Hi, I am thinking about majoring in accounting in college in the fall. I am not sure if I am going to be happy with it though. I am great with numbers and math has always been my favorite subject ever since I learned how to count! I really enjoy it. Plus they say the money is good and my ultimate fear is that I go through life not making enough to get by. Basically I was just wondering if this job would be something I can do everyday, enjoy and be successful in. Thoughts?

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