If you’re good with numbers and enjoy solving problems, accounting might be the career for you. In this article, we’ll explain how to become an accountant and answer commonly asked questions about the required skills, salary and future job growth.
What is an accountant?
Although there are many areas of specialisation within the profession, accountants typically help clients manage their finances and give expert advice on financial reporting, forecasting and analysis. The variety of clients that accountants can work with is huge. From managing the accounts of vast multinational empires, to the tax accountant in the local strip mall. Some of the tasks an accountant might do, include:
- Preparing financial statements
- Conducting financial audits
- Preparing tax returns
- Setting up accounting systems for clients
- Creating budgets
How do you become an accountant?
In order to become an accountant, you’ll need a combination of a university degree, practical experience and a formal certification with one of Australia’s accounting peak bodies. Keep reading for the answers to common questions about how to become an accountant in Australia.
Do you need a degree to be an accountant?
While a Diploma of Accounting can provide an entry point into the accounting industry, an accounting-related bachelor’s degree is required to become certified with an accounting peak body. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to become an accountant:
- Study an accredited accounting degree – The Bachelor of Accounting and Bachelor of Business – Accounting at Swinburne Online are professionally accredited degrees that you can study online. If you already hold an undergraduate degree, you could study a Master of Professional Accounting instead. Some core subjects needed to become an accountant in Australia include taxation and auditing.
- Become certified with one of Australia’s accounting peak bodies – To increase your employability, you’ll need to become certified with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) or Certified Practising Accounts (CPA) Australia. Both certifications involve additional study, exams and practical experience, and both have their own focus areas.
How long does it take to become an accountant?
A typical Bachelor of Accounting or Bachelor of Business – Accounting degree takes three years to complete. Completing the CAANZ program or the CPA program also takes a minimum of three years. The overall time it will take for you to become an accountant will depend on when you choose to complete the practical component of these programs.
Is it hard to be an accountant?
The journey to becoming an accountant isn’t without its challenges. Some subjects can be difficult depending on your skill level and it can be tough to balance studying for the CAANZ or CPA programs whilst working full-time. Although becoming an accountant can be hard at times, with dedication and perseverance, it is definitely achievable.
Working as an accountant also comes with its own challenges. Depending on the area you specialise in, you’ll need to stay on top of the latest accounting regulations and software. Demanding workloads during busy periods can also be difficult to manage. Nonetheless, accounting is a stable and rewarding career for those that have high attention to detail and enjoy working with numbers.
What skills do you need to become an accountant?
Besides the knowledge you’ll gain with a degree, there are some key skills you’ll need for a successful accounting career, including:
- Attention to detail – Being attentive will ensure any financial statements and reports you produce are accurate, consistent and reliable. This is vital to ensure your work complies with accounting standards and can be used to make important decisions.
- Data analysis – While not all accountants conduct data analysis, it’s a helpful skill that can make you more valuable. Identifying patterns and trends in financial data plays an important role in making reliable recommendations to clients.
- Problem-solving – Accountants can face problems such as errors in financial statements and complicated regulations. Developing critical thinking skills to overcome these challenges will take you far in your accounting career.
- Digital proficiency – Since accountants work with large volumes of data, being competent in the latest tools and software can help you work more efficiently. These include but aren’t limited to accounting, spreadsheet and data analysis software.
- Communication – If you’re considering becoming an accountant, effective communication skills are essential for presenting findings to a client. This will allow you to explain complicated information in a way that’s easy to understand.