What Do Accountants Do? Accountant Job Description and Salary

How often do you interact with accountants? Maybe you interact with them on a daily basis, or once yearly during your tax payment season. Well, since that is when they are most visible, but accountants work all year round in back offices. If you want to become an accountant, you must be real good in cranking up numbers. Not only that, you must be able to compile financial reports and have a keen eye for details. You must also be able to multitask since sometimes accountants can be very busy. Accountants usually work as members of a team with other staff of other departments as well so if you are good at working with people, then it’s a plus for you.

What do accountants do? – job duties of an accountant

An accountant analyzes profits and losses, to provide information that the business owners and investors need so as to evaluate how a company is doing over a given period of time. This helps in determining any budget modifications that are needed to help the company cut losses and improve profits. As the company’s accountant, you are expected to provide suggestions so that the company reaps maximum benefits.
Reconcile reports that have discrepancies. As an accountant, you are expected to find out if your company money is disappearing in unknown projects, and if so, what those projects are and how they can completely shut down. Coming with an airtight system for managing money is tough, but this is part of your job. You are also expected to maintain payroll data, determine all the necessary pay roll equipment and prepare and process monthly payrolls for all the other members of the staff. You should also interact with internal and external auditors to complete audits, clearly explain billing invoices and accounting policies to staff, clients and vendors.

You as the accountant should come up with monthly closing and cost accounting reports and profit and loss statements. Supervise the handling of all the financial information and reports for all the automated financial systems. Automated statements are put up to make accounting tasks a lot easier, but they often make mistakes. Therefore, an accountant should monitor these systems to ensure they are performing correctly. That way accounting procedures will continue to generate accurate results.

In retail settings, the accountants add up the cash in drawers and transactions on a daily basis. This daily task is usually necessary to ensure the financial records are straight each day. If not carried out daily, errors are bound to accumulate over time which can cause the business losses. This helps the accounting team to easily recognize those employees who keep making mistakes. The company can take action by offering extra training for these particular employees which can prevent future errors.

What is the salary for accountants?

The starting salaries for accountants vary depending on the state, industry, size and type of firm. Those who are fresh graduates entering the career can earn about $60,000 annually. Those who do not have any degree earn less than this. Once an accountant is fully qualified, they can earn more than $60,000 annually. According to the BLS, the average salary for an accountant after six to ten years working in the industry is more than $80,000. Those working as accountants in banks and capital markets tend to earn higher salaries. These salary packages also come with extra benefits such as bonuses, car allowances, medical insurance and profit sharing schemes. This is just a general amount of salaries that accountants earn. There are different types of accountants and their salaries differ.

Working environment

Accountant at workAccountants work in a professional office setting that is fast paced with strict deadlines that must be met. The offices are usually clean, orderly and well lit. Those who are self employed can do their work from the comfort of their homes. For those who are employed in public auditing firms, they have to report to an office. Accounting data is usually very time sensitive and should be processed in a timely manner. Additionally, a lot of accounting work needs people to work as a team. This usually helps in completing projects within the set time frame as well as sharing knowledge among the team members. Accounting is dynamic and it keeps changing and since there is no single person who can know everything about the subject, team work is very important in this field. Teamwork makes deadlines and projects easy to attain.

The working hours for accountants vary from the traditional 40 hours per week to more strenuous hours. Those in the public sector may work from 45 hours a week and from 55 to 80 hours a week during busy months. However, you can make flexible working arrangements. An accountant may also be expected to travel during the work day to audit work which is normally carried out at the client’s premises. It is possible for an accountant to be away from home overnight and some occasional travels abroad. Due to the nature of the work of accountants, the dress code is usually formal.


The good thing about this career is that you can enter the field with education at any degree level. An associate degree prepares you for an entry level position whereas a bachelor’s degree will impart a higher base of knowledge and make way for a master in business administration or an advanced degree. To get masters, you will take about one to two years.
However, most employers often require you to have CPA certification, hence; most accountants get licensed to increase their prospects. CPAs are usually given licenses by the board of accountancy of their particular state. The board of accountancy also facilitates the exam which is no walk in the park, so you should be ready to study real hard if you want to become an accountant. According to BLS, only less than 50% of those people who take the CPA exam are able to pass the test on the first attempt.

There has been an interest in accounting over the last several years to respond to the public profile of corporate scandals and financial crisis. Do you like economics, business and people and are not sure that accounting is the job for you? If you are great at maintaining your own personal books and love doing your own finances, then that is a good sign that you have exactly what it takes to be an accountant. Not simply an accountant, but a successful and profitable one. I would also recommend you learn about auditing since auditing is similar to accounting and the duties are also similar to those performed by accountants.

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