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A Day in the Life of an Accountant

By Meg C.
Financial Analyst and Graduate Student

Accounting is one of the few recession-proof jobs on the market. Whether the numbers are black or red, someone needs to account for a company's financial transactions. You will always need auditors to verify financial information, and tax return preparers should experience an increase in demand as the tax code gets increasingly more complex.

So, what's a day like in the life of an accountant? What skills do you need to become an accountant? What training is necessary?

A Typical Day for an Accountant

Workload is contingent on the area of accounting in which the professional is working and the time of year.

Naturally, tax accountants will work on tax returns and perform tax research for their clients' tax planning activities. As tax deadlines approach, tax accountants will often see a dramatic increase in their workload.

An auditor will visit a client location, perform test inventory counts and analyze a client's financial data to find potential misstatements.

An accountant employed in the private sector will analyze data and prepare reports to help executive management with decision-making responsibilities.

What Skills Are Required to Be an Accountant

The stereotype of an accountant is an individual, usually a man, who sits in the back room of an office counting money. This is where the term "bean counter" came from.

In all actuality, accountants need to have good people skills. Accountants are valued professionals whom all businesses count on to maximize profits. A good accountant will have a solid ethical background and won't do anything to embarrass the profession or clients.

You will need to have solid math skills and good grades in college level business courses in order to successfully become an accountant.

What Training Is Necessary to Become an Accountant

Accountants must have at minimum an undergraduate degree in accounting. Most accountants will spend an additional year beyond their undergraduate degree pursuing a master's degree. This is because most states require an individual to have 150 hours of college credit in order to sit for the CPA exam.

Some states require someone to complete an ethics course and have a year or two of relevant professional experience before becoming a licensed accountant, in addition to successful completion of the CPA exam.

Becoming an accountant isn't as easy as some professions. However, accountants have unique opportunities to help businesses thrive and make a difference in people's lives.

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