How To Become an Accountant

Accountant working from home

Keeping track of an organization’s or individual’s finances can be a full-time responsibility that calls for a unique skill set. How accountants handle these responsibilities and their work is essential to many different industries. If you are interested in a career in accounting, then you will want to learn what steps you need to take to enter this field and lead a successful career.

What Is an Accountant?

Accountants are professionals who hold the important responsibility of recordkeeping financial transactions. They may also encourage proper management of money and finances for businesses and individuals as well as wise financial decision-making. There are a variety of responsibilities that an accountant may hold, including:

  • Developing financial reports
  • Analyzing data
  • Providing financial advice
  • Budgeting
  • Handling tax returns

If you think that this could be the field for you, you may want to explore how to become an accountant.

Becoming an Accountant

In order to become an accountant, you will need to start by earning your bachelor’s degree. From there, you will need to begin gaining experience by working within the field.

1. Earn Your Accounting Degree

Finding an accounting bachelor’s degree program that will help you achieve your goals is important if you want to gain the skills necessary to become a great accountant. A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting degree program will cover a variety of topics you will need to know in order to enter this field, including:

  • Budgeting
  • Auditing standards
  • Job order costing systems
  • Financial statement preparation
  • Ethical issues
  • Information literacy

In total, a BS in Accounting requires 120 credits. There are many options when it comes to earning a degree and earning these credits. Some students may choose to pursue their bachelor’s degree on campus where they are surrounded by other students. Other students may prefer the convenience and flexibility of an online degree. Evening courses are also a great choice for aspiring accounting students who have daytime obligations.

2. Gain Experience and Apply for Internships

Gaining practical experience is also extremely important in the world of accounting. Keep an eye open for internship opportunities. Not only do these give you beneficial on-the-job experience, but they can also be invaluable networking opportunities.

As you accumulate work experience, you will begin to understand the ins and outs of the accounting world. During your internship, commit to learning as much as possible by speaking with other accounting professionals and taking on various tasks and projects. This way, you will be prepared to embrace your future career field and have the skill set necessary to be successful.

3. Compare Different Types of Accounting Careers

After earning an accounting degree, there are many different types of careers you can consider:

  • Accountant: As previously described, an accountant is someone who keeps the financial records of a business or individual. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is a solid option for those who strive to become accountants.
  • Auditor: An auditor fills a very important role within the financial field. They are responsible for ensuring that financial records and statements are accurate and that all the corresponding rules, laws and regulations are followed.
  • Revenue agent: If you want to work for the government in an accounting field, you may consider becoming a revenue agent. Revenue agents are employed by the Internal Revenue Service or local and state governments. Within these agencies, they examine and audit tax records and returns.
  • Financial examiner: Another part of the financial process involves consumer compliance and the monetary transactions that take place. A financial examiner is in charge of monitoring these transactions and ensuring that all proper procedures are followed and that banks and other financial institutions comply with the laws and regulation governing them.
  • Credit analyst: Before a person can get a loan or credit, they are first scrutinized by a credit analyst. These professionals may look into the applicant’s financial background and analyze the risk related to granting a loan or credit.
  • Tax examiner and collector: Like a revenue agent, a tax examiner and collector review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed and collect overdue taxes.
  • Forensic accountant: Fraud and theft sometimes occur in the financial world. Forensic accountants investigate incidents of financial crimes.
  • Financial accountant: Financial accountants prepare financial reports and statements for an organization. This specialization is a good option to consider for those who are interested in the finance side of accounting.
  • Managerial accountant: Managerial companies work for places such as public companies, private businesses and government agencies. They help monitor costs, sales, spending and budgets. In addition, they conduct audits and help to identify past trends and predict future needs.

It is a good idea to learn about all of these different career options to determine which are most appealing to you. Then, you can focus on finding the right job. If you are not quite sure which career path best fits your interests, consider speaking with your academic counselor or professionals in the industry. As you progress through your courses and internship(s), you may also discover a particular area of interest or accounting specialization you want to pursue further.

Accountants work with a variety of organizations and individuals. Some accountants work from central offices, whereas others work directly with clients from home.

4. Furthering Your Education

Earning a bachelor's in accounting is a great way to get started in the field. If you would like to enhance your accounting knowledge and skills or pursue a leadership position, you may want to consider earning an online Master of Science (MS) in Accounting.

Depending on your career goals, you may also want to consider earning your certified public accountant (CPA) credential. Not all accountants need to take the CPA examination, but earning this certification can open up more opportunities. Although all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs. A wide range of career options are available to CPAs in both public and corporate accounting. Individuals with the CPA designation are legally allowed to perform certain duties that non-certified accountants are unable to do, such as auditing or taxation services.

Are you interested in becoming an accountant? You can learn more about earning your bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting from Grand Canyon University. Our Business and Management degree programs include a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting, as well as a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting for students who want to continue their academic journey. Click the Request More Information button at the top of this page to learn more.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.