CPA Exam

The Skills Required for a Career in Accounting

Posted by Morgan Bissett-Tessier on April 10, 2017 10:31:27 PM CDT


Many people have a desire to become an accountant because of the attractive salary and opportunities for growth. What some people do not know is that they do not have the skills necessary for the job. Like any career, accounting requires certain skills that go beyond math and computational skills. In addition, you will also need skills inherent to your personality. Here are some of those skills to determine if you are the right fit for the job, or skills that you can perhaps refine over time.


Handling an individual or business’ money is no laughing matter. A lot of responsibility falls onto an accountant’s shoulders to make sure everything is reported in a timely and efficient manner. That is why the only way you can be effective is to have a system of organization. You will handle portfolios, manage transactions, and record important deadlines for you to meet.

In order to stay organized, learn how to utilize tools such as planners, post-it notes, labeled folders, or any smart device apps that can help you keep your documents and records in a safe and easily accessible place. Fortunately, many offices have office supplies readily available somewhere within the vicinity, so ask someone if they can direct you to where may find most of these items for free.

Time Management

As mentioned before, there are deadlines to meet. Your time-management abilities will be critical to keep up with hard deadlines demanded by your boss. Accountants have to work on multiple tasks at a time, and you will often be solely responsible with how you manage your time to get all tasks completed. There will be many times when you will have to move the priorities in your to-do list around to take on an unexpected task, or help someone with their work at the last minute.


Not everyone is aware of this, but accountants do not simply sit in their cubicles all day doing math. While they certainly spend a lot of time crunching numbers, analyzing data, and putting together reports, his or her job duties do extend beyond that. For example, they often have to communicate among other accountants, levels of staff, and even different departments to inform people of the current and future financial prospects. Multiple accountants will have to work as a team to make sure accounts are correct.

Accountants have to speak to their supervisor or manager about any negative or positive findings. Sometimes, accountants even have to explain their reports to other departments, and speak in simpler terms so that others without accounting experience can understand.

Coolness Under Pressure

Accounting is a high-stress job. Your employer counts on you to get the job done right, and if you do not, it can cost you your job and your reputation. In higher positions, this can cause high rates of anxiety that can lead to depression. When accountants lose their job due to a major mistake, they can experience symptoms of PTSD or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Some accountants simply get burnt out from the stress. While many personalities can handle accounting, those that perform well under pressure and keep a cool head and lower stress levels will generally have an easier time and have a lesser likelihood of crippling anxiety.

Critical Thinking

In lower positions of accounting, you may simply put together reports, but as you rise in the ranks and gain higher level CPA positions after gaining certification, you will be responsible for much more. You will not only be responsible for putting together reports, but also have to critically analyze data to identify trends and forecast financial trends. You may eventually become in charge of creating budgets, overseeing audits, and a host of other tasks. This will require you to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills in order to give your client or team the best direction.


There will be many times when you have the chance to rise to the occasion. If you have a natural ability to lead teams and take initiative, you will certainly stand out among the rest. A good leader knows how to motivate team members and help the team run together. After more experience, you may be asked for ideas to overcoming complex situations or navigating an issue. Your abilities will not go amiss.


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