BlogCareersWhat Does an Accountant Do?

What Does an Accountant Do?

Are you interested in all things numbers? Do you want to help the world through your knack in Mathematics or Commerce? Then, working as an Accountant might be your future career! 

In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown of what being an Accountant is all about with the help of Trisha, an Intermediate Accountant at Nexia Sydney.

Let’s get started!

Meet Trisha
What is an Accountant?
Steps to Becoming an Accountant
Future Outlook
Best Thing & Worst Thing
Advice for Aspiring Accountants

Meet Trisha 

How did you end up in this role? 

Accountant - Interviewee Quote

After her internship ended, Trisha continued to work part-time at Nexia while finishing university. 

“Work was so accommodating and allowed me to finish uni and now I’ve just started full time work and I’ve started my CA (qualifications to be a Chartered Accountant) too!” Trisha adds.

Studies and Experience 

Trisha studied a Bachelor of Commerce at UNSW. “I didn’t have any internships before this [her internship at Nexia], so I thought it would be a bit tricky to get my foot in the door but the CA Achiever Program was really great!” she recommends. 

She interned at the end of her second year as well as completing a standalone Honours year in Business Law out of personal interest rather than for work prospects. 

Learn more about the Bachelor of Commerce at UNSW here!

What made you want to work in this industry?

It all comes down to personal interest when deciding what industry to work in.

“In high school, I really enjoyed Commerce and Business Studies so I knew I wanted to do something related to that,” Trisha says.  

Trisha admits, “I honestly didn’t know what the job [accountant] would entail but I think that’s true for any job.”

Even if you believe you might not have the “knack” for accounting, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Learning will come through university and practical experience!

“You learn a lot once you start and it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll be doing before you start working. Uni is great for learning the general concepts but I think the hands-on experience is where you really learn,” Trisha says. 

What is an Accountant?

Accountants deal with all the financial information of companies, individuals or any client who wants to keep track of their expenses and income. They manage their client’s budgets and taxes, as well as prepare and review financial statements. 

Most accountants work full-time for a company, an accounting firm or on contract. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

A typical day of an Accountant 

The day of an accountant starts with arriving at the office at 08:30.

Besides timesheets and emails, there aren’t standard everyday tasks as their work depends on the time of the month as well as the financial quarter. However, accountants mostly deal with client work on the daily and collect financial information for reviewing. 

Which industries can this career be found in?

Accountants mostly work in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Industry — think the Big 4 Accounting firms like EY and Deloitte.

As at 2016, 9.1% of Accountants work in the Financial and Insurance Services industry, 4.9% work in the Manufacturing industry and another 4.9% work in the Public Administration and Safety industry.

Characteristics and Qualities 

Accountant - Skills

The top 5 knowledge areas and skills of an Accountant are: 

    • Economics and Accounting
    • Mathematics
    • Computer and electronics
    • Critical Thinking 
    • Communication
#1: Economics and Accounting

Undoubtedly, the knowledge of Economics and Accounting is needed for the correct reporting of financial data as well as the appropriate evaluation of the external and internal financial trends for a client! These encompass the day-to-day duties of an Accountant. 

#2: Mathematics

Mathematical knowledge underpins the foundation of accounting, specifically using arithmetic and finance-related formulas. As accountants draw up financial statements, such as income statements and balance sheets, a keen ability to work with numbers is required.

#3: Computer and Electronics

In addition, their computer and electronics knowledge is found in the compiling, categorising, tabulating, auditing, and checking of financial information into digital databases and software. 

#4: Critical Thinkings

An accountant’s critical thinking skills come in when they plan budgets for future performance and provide financial advice. A lot of this requires strategic planning and analysing the current financial environment of the client using accounting principles. 

#5: Communication

Lastly, communication is important for accountants as they must both comprehend their client’s expectations and ensure that the client understands the financial principles that underlie the accountant’s advice. During meetings and presentations, timely and effective communication is key to an accountant’s sustainability in their job. 

Steps to Becoming an Accountant 

What should you study? 

The minimum level of qualification to work as an accountant is a Diploma of Accounting. 

However, the majority of accountants typically study a university-level degree. Most accountants have studied a Bachelor of Commerce or Economics with a Major in Accounting or solely a Bachelor of Accounting.

Check out some of the Accounting degrees offered by different universities:

 

How long does it take to become an Accountant?

You can call yourself an accountant once you finish your university degree or diploma and find an entry level job in the industry. 

Usually, the recommended path for accountants is also to do a CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Public Accountant) qualification that recognises your profession in accounting. This qualification takes 1 to 2 years or less.  

Industry Knowledge

In terms of software and programs, most businesses use the industry standards — these are Xero and/or MYOB. However, certain larger firms like the Big 4 have their own internal accounting softwares. 

What will this career look like in the future?

How in-demand is this career?

For Trisha, she thinks, “Accounting jobs are always in quite high demand as it is quite an essential service.”

On the flip side of this, a high demand has the downside of having high competition when applying for accounting roles.

Are there opportunities to grow or specialise? 

Trisha says, “Definitely! There are a ton of positions (at least in my division, not too sure about others) and opportunities to grow. A lot of the partners actually started out as cadets right out of high school and I think it really shows how much you’re valued at the firm.”

“I’ve always felt really supported by my team and I always feel like I’m able to grow, whether it be through training, more client engagement or just more challenging tasks. There are also opportunities to specialise in areas you are interested in e.g. tax law,” she adds.

Salary

Annual SalaryFuture GrowthSkill Level Rating
$86,000+Strong over the next 5 yearsVery high skill

Influential Trends and the Future of this Industry

In the accounting industry, there has been definitely a push for the automation of tasks for the repetitive parts of the job. 

But this isn’t as big a worry as you might think! “Although a lot of the job can be automated and there is a concern that AI may take over, there is definitely a large discretionary portion of the job so that human interaction is really needed,” Trisha says. 

Either way, it’s an exciting place to be as the accounting profession transitions into a more advisory and strategy-based role.

Best Thing & Worst Thing

What do you enjoy most about this job?

Trisha’s favourite part of the job is client interaction. 

I really love being able to solve the problems clients call me with and it’s really nice to see that I’ve been able to help them with issues they may not have been able to attend to themselves,” she says, “It’s really lovely to interact with and create close relationships with clients — it’s really rewarding!”

What do you feel is the worst part of this job?

“I think sometimes the jobs may get a little challenging and it feels like you’re drowning a little bit! It can be a hit to your confidence at times,” Trisha says. 

However, working in a team has helped Trisha with this. “It’s not really a huge downside though because you can always lean on your team for support as they’re always happy to help out and you can’t grow in a role without challenges,” she tells us.

Advice for Aspiring Accountants

What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?

“To be honest, there’s not a lot to know before going into the role,” Trisha says, “You learn a ton on the job and it’s really hard to know how you’ll feel about the role before you start.”

Trisha recommends to take every hurdle and task as it comes, and to ask as many questions as you need. “Everyone around you was in the position you’re in now at some point so they’ll be happy to help,” she says. 

Why should people consider taking on this career?

Despite the common misconception, accountants have a lot of variety in their day-to-day tasks. “It’s a really interesting, multifaceted job so there’s a lot of different areas to keep you occupied,” Trisha says, “For example, you could be doing company tax returns, quarterly GST reporting, individual tax returns and out of scope ATO correspondence all in the same day.”

“There’s also a chance to create great working relationships with clients and coworkers which is a huge upside of the job,” she adds. 

Job Flexibility 

An accounting job typically provides the standard work hours and leave. For Trisha’s role at Nexia Sydney, work hours are from 08:30 to 17:00 in the office and leave is according to government standards. 

“I never feel guilty for taking time off and everyone is really supportive. No one expects you to work around the clock and I feel like we all have a healthy work-life balance,” Trisha says. 

With the onset of COVID, Trisha explains that “the firm was so accommodating with WFH arrangements“. However, when reaching a point where it is safe to go back to office, Trisha goes back into the office a couple of days a week though there is no pressure if people are uncomfortable.

What is the workplace culture like?

Trisha agrees that the workplace culture at Nexia is amazing. In the office, there would be monthly hang-outs and at the end of each financial quarter, her team would also hold fun social activities. 

Morale is always high as everyone understands that work-life balance is needed. The culture has always been one of the highlights of my job. Everyone is always so kind and welcoming and I feel really lucky to be in this role!’ says Trisha.


Lynn Chen is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is a Communication student at UTS with a major in Creative Writing. Lynn’s articles have been published in Vertigo, The Comma, and Shut Up and Go. In her spare time, she also writes poetry.

 

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