Everyone thinks they know the skills needed to be an accountant – you just have to be a whiz with numbers, right? The truth is that being a good accountant requires skills in many more areas than you might have considered.
So, let’s take a look at five of the most important skills needed to be an accountant.
1. Numerical skills
To start with the elephant in the room, accountants must have strong numerical abilities. You don’t need to be a mathematician, but you must be confident performing common calculations efficiently, whether it’s adding, subtracting, or working out decimals and percentages.
You will need the ability to perform mental arithmetic, as well as be able to use a calculator for more complex amounts. Basically, if you’re a fan of Sudoku, you’re probably on the right track!
2. Analytical skills
Accountancy isn’t all about making calculations. Another large part of the role is using figures to analyse financial situations. You will need to analyse finances within the context of current regulations and come up with reasonable suggestions to solve problems.
Analysis and critical thinking is a major part of a management accountant’s role. Companies with in-house accountants often expect them to come up with solutions to financial issues and make recommendations for meeting future goals.
3. Communication skills
Many people think of accountants as spending their days tucked away in a lonely office, basking in shy solitude. While accountancy does require long spells behind your desk, communicating with others is an essential part of the role.
To start with, many accountants work within a firm, where they can often specialise in a particular area. This means you could be working as part of a team for the same client, contributing your area of expertise towards a larger project.
In any accountancy role, you will be required to explain numbers to non-accountants, whether it’s your client or your boss. This is especially true for management accountants, whose job it is to communicate financial information to others within an organisation, contributing to discussions and helping to make decisions.
Three things all accountants should know
Watch the expert webinar with AAT qualified accounting tutor Patricia Barlow
4. IT skills
The world of accountancy develops fast as new technologies are developed. Most of the accounting functions that were served by the paper are now carried out on a computer and, as an accountant, you will find yourself working with the latest software and electronic systems.
To truly flourish, accountants need to be constantly aware of changes within their own and other industries. This is especially important when it comes to meeting regulations. Because a large aspect of an accountant’s role in ensuring an organisation is meeting its financial obligations, the ability to keep up with legislative developments is essential.
It is also important to be aware of new technological developments, as well as understanding changes to a client’s industry that could impact on what they expect from you.
If you want to find out more about gaining the skills needed to be an accountant through highly recognised accounting courses, our advisors would be delighted to talk to you. We also have great opportunities to start your career with work experience in our apprenticeship programmes.
Why become an accountant?
Jobs in accounting couldn’t be further from the old stereotype of someone sitting behind a pile of dusty ledgers. If you’re still unsure, read some of the great reasons below on why you should become an accountant:
- Great pay and job benefits: if you gain chartered status and become experienced, you could command a very high salary and enjoy many job benefits from the company car, bonuses, and a generous pension. You could earn anything between £20,000 and £90,000
- World travel: if you work for a company with branches across the world, you could travel to many different locations to visit clients, making trade agreements and oversee currency exchange
- Experience different sectors: the need for accountants is universal, so you can work almost any industry imaginable. You could work for a firm that serves a range of clients or work in a specific sector such as manufacturing or pharmaceuticals
- Run your own business: becoming a qualified accountant opens up the option to become self-employed and run your own business. Whether you want to fit a business around your lifestyle or grow into a large firm, the choice is yours