Are you someone who loves numbers? Do you see yourself as a detail-oriented and organized person who is comfortable working in a structured environment? Then you should consider becoming an accountant. But an aspiring accountant knows well that their job just doesn't end with number crunching.
Accountants are the gatekeepers of a successful business. They closely monitor the inflow and outflow of the company’s money and ensure all financial transactions are legal, correct, and go through the proper channels. To ensure the company’s financial statements are in order, they work closely with bookkeepers.
If you are set to become an accountant, this guide will help you craft a resume that will set you apart from the crowd. Let’s take a look at the three resume formats, one of which you’ll use to create your resume.
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Job Duties of an Accountant
Accountants prepare financial documentation and explain their findings to individuals, companies, or organizations’ management. They take charge of a series of accounts which could be either private or public.
There are mainly three types of accountants — public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants — all of whom focus on different aspects of the profession. It doesn’t matter which type of accountant; they all have some everyday duties and responsibilities to fulfill. Below are the primary responsibilities of an accountant.
Ensuring the accuracy of financial documents and checking their conformity with relevant laws and regulations.
Preparing, compiling, and presenting critical financial reports, business plans, budgets, commentaries, and financial statements.
Preparing tax returns and keeping a check on whether taxes are paid correctly and on time.
Evaluating financial operations and recommending best practices with proper identification of issues, and providing strategic solutions.
Offering guidance on cost reduction, profit maximization, and revenue enhancement.
Conducting financial forecasting and risk analysis.
Working closely with internal and external auditors in completing audits.
Resolving accounting discrepancies.
Accountant Median Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant earns an average salary of $73,560 annually or $35.37 per hour. From 2019 to 2029, the employment of accountants is projected to grow at a rate of 4%.
Top Skills for an Accountant
Accountants collect, organize, and keep track of financial information. This job requires a strong understanding of mathematics and proficiency in technology to manage accounting software. At the same time, an accountant requires thorough knowledge of relevant laws and regulations.
Here are some other sets of skills required by competent accountants:
- Data analysis: Accountants must read, compare and interpret different data and figures. For example, they might have to look at a client's finances to minimize their tax liabilities. An accountant needs excellent analytical skills to avoid errors and correctly analyze the numbers and figures to assess these situations appropriately.
- Excellent with numbers: Numbers are your primary resources as an accountant. As an accountant, it is your responsibility to track a company’s revenues and determine whether their strategies result in income or losses. An example of this would be if the project manager tries to change their sales strategy to push more credit card applications; it is the accountant’s responsibility to determine whether those who opened credit card accounts are genuinely using them after the initial purchase.
- A ‘people’ person: Accounting involves constantly interacting with colleagues, clients, shareholders, and others. This requires strong communication skills and a thoughtful, social attitude towards people. For example, you might notice the numbers are off in a transaction and must sit down with the involved parties to discuss the situation and understand why the discrepancy arose.
- Administrative and management quality: A good accountant should be efficient in administration roles. Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning will help them provide positive numbers for their customers. They should understand human resources modeling, resource allocation, production methods, leadership technique, and coordination of resources and people.
- Knowledge of business laws: Since accountants go through many financial transactions that need legal confirmation, they must understand business laws. They should be aware of new policies, court procedures, legal codes, government regulations, precedents, executive orders, agency rules, among other legal resources.
- Fiduciary expertise: Fiduciary means trust between two parts, usually a beneficiary and their trustee. An Accountant must develop a tact when dealing with the money they handle from their employer. As an accountant, ensure it will be your job to keep your employer updated on all they need to know regarding their finances and how best to avoid over-expenditure and make the most of them.
- Auditing training: An accountant must be ready to lead an audit for their employer. Audits are a legal process many companies undergo to establish the “trail” their money takes throughout the companies. For example, you can determine whether the Human Resources Department uses too much money in unnecessary processes and recommend a cut in their budget to allow IT to receive a better sum for upgrading their systems.
Educational Requirements for Accountants
DegreeTo become an accountant, the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in Accounting or any related field. A more fast-track option is studying for an associate degree. However, most employers ask for a bachelor’s as it teaches broader lessons. For those who want to continue to look after their bachelor’s degree, you can opt for a Master’s degree and specialize in areas like environmental accounting, internal auditing, managerial accounting, and taxes.
LicensingAs required by law, an accountant must first pass an exam depending on their professional goals. The most common and well-known accounting exam is the Public Accountant exam or the Certified Public Accountant, provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Being a CPA opens up a lot of doors with reasonable remuneration for professionals in the field.
Suppose you want to reach a more executive role in a company. In that case, another great option is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which will gauge your knowledge in accounting and your leadership skills. This exam is for those interested in reaching an executive role such as a company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
CertificationsSeveral globally recognized certificates will add authenticity to your position as an accountant and lead to a better edge when competing for a place.
If you seek more knowledge in investment and wealth management, you can apply for the Certified Financial Planner designation, which focuses on the high net worth of investments. This exam will evaluate through two exams your financial planning knowledge in real-life situations.
For accountants interested in working for hedge funds and asset management, you can apply for a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation. This certification, received after passing an exam, will provide more credibility to your knowledge in the field and, at the same time, result in better job opportunities.
Alongside the CAIA designation, you can also apply for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which focuses on portfolio management and investment analysis. This qualification takes about four years to finish but is sought by many accounting firms globally.
Accountant Resume-Writing Tips
Since you have covered everything you needed to know about an accountant, let us give you some tips on writing your resume for an accountant position. You need to make sure that you sound different from the mundane resumes that flood every day to the accounting firms. Follow these three tips to create a voice of your own in your resume.
- Show that you will be an asset to the company. It's not about what you have got, but about providing the recruiter what they are looking for. The first thing you should do before writing your resume is going thoroughly through the company's job description. Analyze it and add keywords and phrases that match the description. This way, you can show the recruiter how you can be an asset to the company. Including words like " a proficient accountant experienced in reconciliation, valuing prospects, and using diverse statistical techniques" will leave a good impression on the recruiter.
- It's all about the numbers. Accounting is all about numbers, so why hesitate to include it in your resume? When you boast about an achievement you made in your previous job, it is always better to speak about them in numbers. For example, instead of simply saying, " improved accounts payable processes,” you can be more specific and say something like, " improved accounts payable processes and achieved 60% reduction in late fees", which will add authenticity to your statement. When you quantify your progress, it won't sound like you have simply added some good words in your resume, but it will reflect on the genuineness of your hard work.
- Let them see your technical knowledge. It is necessary to evolve with the changing technological trends to stay competitive in the field of accounting. With the boom in the accounting industry, it is practical to use the technological advancements witnessed in the industry to make sure that others do not leave you behind. So, it will be best to convince the employer that you are well aware of the technologies used in accounting. This will make the employer think that you are someone who welcomes and adapts to the quick and unexpected changes in the industry.
Is being an accountant a stressful job?
Like all other jobs, being an accountant includes its pros and cons. It can be very stressful and affect your mental health if you don't like the profession because you are forced into it. But this is true about every career. If you love the work you are doing, there is no question of stress in it. The same goes for accounting. And the money you will earn as an accountant will surely help you get over any anxiety you may have. Also, the job security ensured in this field is one of the main reasons you want to stick to it.
Is it hard to be an accountant?
Considering the prevailing stereotypes about being an accountant, it is viewed as demanding compared to many other office jobs. But if you know the basics of accounting and do well with numbers, it won't be a difficult job for you. You might enjoy it if you are someone who loves to stay organized in life. However, you might need to level up your skills if you want to deal with advanced concepts in accounting.
What are the benefits of being an accountant?
Accountants enjoy some benefits that seem to be the reason why many are attracted to this profession. They have a prominent future in front of them since it is one of those few jobs that provide high job security. Accountants make a good amount of money; if you are an accountant, you will never fall short of cash. Other benefits include an opportunity for advancement, a great network, career diversity, etc.