The Skills You Need For A Successful Accounting Career

5 min read

Career Trends: September 6, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS


Accountants enjoy steady demand, and this evolving field is only becoming more competitive to enter.

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The skills needed for a successful accounting career may not be what you think. Yes, spreadsheets are vital, and so is the knowledge of Excel functions. But you need more than that if you want to stand out among the competition and get an accounting job—soft skills like communication and organisation are critical as well.

Employers look for accounting candidates who can help them advance their businesses and meet their clients’ needs. As a prospective accountant, you must demonstrate proficiency in basic technical accounting skills.

Every accountant, auditor and financial analyst should be up to date with the latest trends in the field, such as how cloud computing and blockchain technologies impact accounting.

Top technical skills you need to become an accountant:

1. Using Accounting Software
  • Knowing the ins and outs of accounting software is crucial to your future as an accountant.
  • Technological advances continue to bring changes to the accounting field.
  • Beyond Excel spreadsheets and the Google Suite, you should be familiar with process automation, artificial intelligence and financial modelling software.
  • Each accounting firm and organisation has its software preferences as well.
  • Watch tutorials and read articles to become better acquainted with that software as you prepare to interview or begin a new job.
2. Preparing and Reporting on Financial Statements
  • Knowledge of how to prepare and report on financial statements is critical to becoming an accountant.
  • An accountant’s everyday responsibilities include creating, tracking and reporting on balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements.
  • To prepare a financial statement, you must be comfortable performing in-depth analyses and evaluations of clients’ financial health and vulnerabilities.
  • The best financial reports communicate complex data in a way that is understandable to all stakeholders.
3. Knowledge of Spreadsheet Software
  • Excel continues to be one of the most valuable tools for accountants to know.
  • Before you pursue an accounting career, you should understand how to use Excel to organise and manipulate data.
  • If you don’t know your way around an Excel spreadsheet, take some time to practise.
  • You might even take an online course to ensure you’re at the top of your game before applying for accounting jobs or a graduate program.

Top soft skills for an accountant:

Forging strong working relationships with your colleagues, peers and clients is as important as your ability to perform complex financial analyses.

1. Communication
  • Effective communication is essential to all business roles, accountants included.
  • Accountants often need to communicate financial updates.
  • You may also find accountants collaborating, particularly in larger firms and businesses with more involved accounting needs.
  • Accounting managers spend most of their time communicating with direct reports, controllers, finance directors and colleagues from other departments who may be less familiar with accounting terms.
2. Time Management and Organisation
  • Careful organisation and effective time management are two soft skills needed to become an accountant.
  • As you juggle various spreadsheets, clients and reports, you must keep track of your time and remain aware of strict deadlines to file taxes and reports.
  • It’s vital to maintain self-awareness and discipline to stay on top of your tasks.
3. Critical Thinking
  • To succeed as an accountant, you need strong critical thinking skills.
  • Ethical dilemmas, reporting errors and unbalanced spreadsheets require careful thought and investigation to arrive at the best solutions.
  • Accountants need to take an active approach to each task to make predictions and assess risk.
4. Problem-Solving
  • Technological advances do not negate the need for accountants to predict trends and make financial forecasts.
  • Problem-solving remains among the top required skills for accountants.
  • Employers are often seeking a creative problem-solver who can help meet their needs and identify innovative ways to move their organisation forward.
5. Strong Attention to Detail
  • As a highly regulated field, accounting necessitates strong attention to detail.
  • Accountants must follow the generally accepted accounting principles and stay aware of industry-specific rules, regulations and deadlines.
  • A keen eye for irregularities and errors is an essential skill for accountants.

Developing soft skills takes time and patience.

Practise by incorporating them into your daily routines, such as by using a task management app for better organisation. You can also reach out to potential mentors in your field to work on your communication skills and learn about the latest trends in accounting.

Removing distractions from your workspace can also help you improve your focus and attention to detail.


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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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