If you’re considering pursuing a career as an accountant, you’re probably wondering what the typical day of an accountant looks like. This is a great question – before you make a move into a new field, it’s important to get a sense of what you’d be doing on a daily basis so that you can assess whether the career is truly right for you.
It’s difficult to come up with an accurate description of the daily life of an accountant, because the field is so broad, with so many variations, and no two accountants will spend their days doing the same kinds of work. This is a good thing, though. With so many accounting career paths to choose from, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to identify the type of accounting that’s best suited to your skills, working style, and preferences.
When asking the question, “what does an accountant do on a daily basis?” you might not find answers that get at the specific job duties until you dig deeper, and look at specific areas of the field, such as tax accounting or public accounting. However, on the whole, accounting professionals usually can expect to do some common types of tasks, and use certain sets of skills, on a daily basis.
While the life of an accountant on a day-to-day basis is difficult to characterize in-depth, here are some of the things you can expect to do if you enter the field.
A Day In the Life of An Accountant
Across all types of accounting, you’ll need to have a certain technical and professional skillset, which lends itself to specific kinds of tasks (regardless of the type of accounting you’re doing). Some of these include:
Using Your Analytical Skills
Accounting professionals will find themselves facing a number of tasks each day that require critical, analytical thinking.
Doing Detail-Oriented Work
Much of the work performed by accountants is detail-oriented; you’ll need to maintain thoroughness and precision in most of the projects you’ll be working on throughout the day.
Communicating With Other Accounting Professionals
Most accountants work on a team with one or more other accounting professionals, which means you will need to be able to discuss your work in technical accounting terms, and also have a firm grasp of the concepts related to the accounting work your colleagues are performing (whether it’s focused on a different area of the business, or another form of accounting altogether), so that you can have alignment across the entire accounting department.
Communicating With Other Teams and Departments
In addition to working closely with your accounting colleagues, you’ll most likely be called upon to deliver expertise, opinions, and reporting to other members of the organization. This will require you to be well-versed in the principles of accounting, and able to translate complex, technical topics into language that can easily be understood by those who are less familiar with the accounting world.
Performing Technical Financial Work
Perhaps it goes without saying, but as an accountant, regardless of your area of specialty, much of your work will involve manipulating numbers, working with formulas, and performing financial analysis.
Using Accounting Technology
Modern accounting involves the use of accounting technology. You can expect to use tools such as Microsoft Excel, data modeling programs, and financial software.
Beyond these basic daily tasks, which apply to accounting professionals across all fields, industries, and areas of expertise, you’ll likely have more specialized tasks that you’ll spend much of your time on. These will depend on your accounting career path, and could include things such as:
- Preparing financial statements
- Analyzing operational costs
- Tax preparation
- Auditing financial statements
- Implementing and/or maintaining accounting systems
- Managing payroll
- Creating and improve accounting processes
- Examining financial statements for accuracy
- Organizing and maintain financial records
- Providing best-practice financial recommendations and advice
- Ensuring legal compliance
- Overseeing the management of funds
If you’re trying to decide which path you should take, spend some time reading up on the different types of accounting jobs available, and research the typical duties of each. Each form of accounting will have different hiring requirements in terms of education, experience, and certification – be sure to look into this so that you’re well-prepared, or can obtain any additional credentials necessary for entry into the field.