6 Qualities of an Accountant That You Might Already Have
When it comes to turning chaos into order, you’re the person to turn to. You manage your own schedule along with most of your family’s. You interpret the hysterical cries of your children into rational requests. You’ve always loved making sense of things. With all that in mind, it makes sense for an orderly career like accounting to stick out as a potential career option.
If you’re considering an accounting career, you might have some assumptions about the field and the people in it. Is it really something accessible to the average person? Or is this career more the domain of single people in downtown apartments with quiet dogs, meticulous work-out routines and frustratingly perfect hair? So maybe that’s a little specific—but your larger curiosity remains.
While it’s true becoming an accountant will take hard work, that doesn’t mean the career is out of your reach. In fact, many of the fundamental qualities that make for great accountants are fairly common—and with affordable online and self-paced options for students, the path to this career may be more accessible than you think.
Don’t let preconceived ideas about this field hold you back. Keep reading to find out six qualities of an accountant that you might already have.
6 Everyday qualities of an accountant you just might possess
Sure, there’s plenty of formal training and knowledge you’ll need to accumulate to start an accounting career—but there’s also plenty of innate traits that will help along the way.
1. You thrive behind the scenes
When your child’s school performs “Jack and the Beanstalk,” you don’t mind being the parent to paint six feet of cardboard vines and leaves. Let the other parents bring cookies and sell tickets. You know what needs to be done and don’t mind that it offers little time in the limelight.
There aren’t many famous accountants known for doing their job well. Often accounting “fame” is followed by handcuffs as those in the spotlight have likely broken a law or two. When you do your job well, however, you can rest assured that you’ve done good work, even if others might not always recognize it. If you enjoy making others look good, and don’t mind passing on the praise, then accounting might be the field for you. You are the gears behind the clock, making sure everything is as it should be.
2. You are detail-oriented and meticulous
If you’re one of those people who rarely has a problem keeping track of your usernames and passwords, you could consider that another sign you’d make a good accountant. In the accounting field, one number or overlooked guideline can be the difference between balanced accounts or a long night of figuring out what went wrong.
As an accountant, you’ll need to know how to find what you need from a multitude of similar-looking budget documents—practically a financial word search at times—and follow detailed instructions or regulations on a regular basis. You like doing things right the first time and know even the smallest details can have a big impact—there’s no mixing up teaspoons with tablespoons when baking in your kitchen.
3. You see numbers and money differently
Some people lose all perspective when working with money—they see $40,000 on a balance sheet, shrug and move on. To an accountant, that figure is an important piece of a broader financial story. That $40,000 is not just a chunk of money going out the door. They see that it could be the start of a new advertising push that may lead to expanded sales, and if things go well, expanded operations that need planning for.
You bring this financial perspective to your personal life. Your spouse might only see money as potential purchases, but you keep the big picture in mind. Your monthly budget might be color coded—and yes, you might be the only one who makes sense of it. But without you, your family would have three trampolines and no money for a vacation.
You don’t let the emotion of money get in the way of managing it wisely, which could serve you well as an accountant. When asked for input on the feasibility of an expensive-yet-exciting new initiative, accountants are turned to for objective and sober analysis.
4. You are tech savvy
Here’s something that might surprise you: Accountants aren’t a bunch of math whizzes. Yes, there’s plenty of math involved, but it’s not advanced trigonometry. For the most part they add, subtract, multiply and divide—and much of that is handled by software. That’s part of why a comfort level with technology, particularly Microsoft Excel®, can be such a valuable foundation.
If you know your way around a computer and aren’t afraid to dive into learning common accounting functions and formulas, you’ll be off to a great start.
5. You have a strong sense of integrity
When you were a teenager working at the local drive-thru, did you split the tip jar evenly every time? Even when no one was watching?
Trust is a huge part of accounting. If you decide to start your own CPA business, you will need to win clients by proving that you can manage their finances with transparency. You will have access to sensitive financial information, and this privilege comes with great responsibility.
If you have a passion about making sure that people do not take advantage of their privilege, then auditing, a thriving branch of accounting, may be the field for you. As an auditor, you would double-check a company’s financial records and look for mistakes or discrepancies. This position is the perfect combination of investigator and bookkeeper.
6. You have a solid work ethic
Do you work more during the holiday seasons, preparing food, wrapping gifts and readying your house for a steady stream of guests? Do you rise to the occasion when the lawn is turning into a forest, mowing the grass and pulling weeds until the job is done?
Accounting can be a very demanding job. Though some positions can be less strenuous, many accounting positions at large firms have a busy season, typically tax season, in which employees can work very long hours until the work is complete.
While many accountants definitely experience their fair share of long grinding weeks, the hard work does come with a financial upside. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 median annual salary for accountants is $70,500 with a projected 10 percent increase in employment by 2026.1
Use your skills to become an accountant
Even though the path to becoming an accountant can be hard work and might take a couple of years, you’re used to putting your head down and overcoming whatever struggles you encounter. And as you can see, you may already be better equipped for the job than you once thought.
You’ve made mess into method for years. Why not make a career out of it? If you’re curious to learn more, head over to our article “Your Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become an Accountant” for more information on your path to this rewarding career.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed July, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Microsoft Excel is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.