Accountant illustration


Accountants review and analyse financial statements, budgets, financial reports, and business plans in order to check for irregularities resulting from error or fraud, and provide their clients with financial advice in matters such as financial forecasting and risk analysis. They may audit financial data, resolve insolvency cases, prepare tax returns and provide other tax-related advice in reference to current legislation.

Accountants typically do the following:

  • Manage all accounting transactions
  • Prepare budget forecasts
  • Publish financial statements in time
  • Handle monthly, quarterly and annual closings
  • Reconcile accounts payable and receivable
  • Ensure timely bank payments
  • Compute taxes and prepare tax returns
  • Manage balance sheets and profit/loss statements
  • Report on the company’s financial health and liquidity
  • Audit financial transactions and documents
  • Reinforce financial data confidentiality and conduct database backups when necessary
  • Comply with financial policies and regulations.

Working conditions

Accountants work in offices, but some work from home. Although accountants usually work in teams, some work alone. Accountants may travel to their clients’ places of business.

Most accountants work full time. Longer periods of work are typical at certain times of the year, such as for quarterly audits or during tax season.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to accountant:

cost accountant
accounting supervisor
accounting officer
production accountant
financial reporting accountant
account auditor
certified public accountant
register accountant
financial accountant
accounting technician
head financial accountant

Minimum qualifications

A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is generally required to work as an accountant. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Some universities and colleges offer specialized programs for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, such as in accounting, forensic accounting, internal auditing, or tax accounting. In some cases, those with an associate’s degree, as well as bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, may get junior accounting positions and advance by showing their accounting skills on the job.

In some areas, a license from a professional accounting certification body may be required to work as an accountant, depending on the nature of the role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Accountant is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Accountant career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to accountant.

financial controller
accounting manager
accounting analyst
cost analyst
financial fraud examiner

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of accountant.

  • Accounting department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the accounting department within an organisation such as bookkeeping, invoices, recording, and taxing.
  • Bookkeeping regulations: The methods and regulations involved in the process of accurate bookkeeping.
  • Financial department processes: The different processes, duties, jargon, role in an organisation, and other specificities of the financial department within an organisation. Understanding of financial statements, investments, disclosing policies, etc.
  • Financial statements: The set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a set period or of the accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
  • Fraud detection: The techniques used to identify fraudulous activities.
  • Depreciation: The accounting method of dividing the value of an asset over its useful life for the allocation of cost per fiscal year and in parallel to decrease the value of the asset from the accounts of the company.
  • Statistics: The study of statistical theory, methods and practices such as collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments in order to forecast and plan work-related activities.
  • Accounting techniques: The techniques of recording and summarising business and financial transactions and analysing, verifying, and reporting the results.
  • Accounting entries: The financial transactions recorded in accounting systems or books of a company together with the metadata linked to the entry such as the date, the amount, the accounts affected, and a description of the transaction.
  • Commercial law: The legal regulations that govern a specific commercial activity.
  • Tax legislation: Tax legislation applicable to a specific area of specialisation, such as import tax, government tax, etc.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of accountant.

  • Prepare tax returns forms: Totalise all the deductible tax collected during the quarter or fiscal year in order to fill tax return forms and claim it back to the governmental authorities for declaring taxation liability. Keep the documents and records supporting the transaction.
  • Calculate tax: Calculate the taxes which have to be paid by an individual or organisation, or paid back by a governmental institution, compliant with specific legislation.
  • Perform balance sheet operations: Make up a balance sheet displaying an overview of the organisation’s current financial situation. Take into account income and expenses; fixed assets such as buildings and land; intangible assets such as trademarks and patents.
  • Interpret financial statements: Read, understand, and interpret the key lines and indicators in financial statements. Extract the most important information from financial statements depending on the needs and integrate this information in the development of the department’s plans.
  • Check accounting records: Revise the accounting records of the quarter and year and ensure that the accounting information reflects with accuracy the financial transactions of the company.
  • Prepare financial statements: Collect, entry, and prepare the set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a certain period or accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
  • Follow the statutory obligations: Understand, abide by, and apply the statutory obligations of the company in the daily performance of the job.
  • Identify accounting errors: Trace accounts, revise the accuracy of the records, and determine the faults in order to solve them.
  • Analyse financial performance of a company: Analyse the performance of the company in financial matters in order to identify improvement actions that could increase profit, based on accounts, records, financial statements and external information of the market.
  • Draft accounting procedures: Lay down standard methods and guidelines to regulate bookkeeping and accounting operations, including determining the bookkeeping system used to record financial transactions.
  • Explain accounting records: Provide additional explanation and disclosure to staff, vendors, auditors, and to any other instance about the way accounts were recorded and treated in the financial records.
  • Ensure compliance with accounting conventions: Exercise accounting management and abidance by generally accepted accounting conventions such as recording transactions at the current price, quantifying goods, separating personal accounts of managers from those of the company, making effective the transfer of legal ownership of assets in its realisation time, and ensuring the principle of materiality.
  • Manage accounts: Manage the accounts and financial activities of an organisation, supervising that all the documents are correctly maintained, that all the information and calculations are correct, and that proper decisions are being made.
  • Attach accounting certificates to accounting transactions: Collate and link documents such as invoices, contracts, and payment certificates in order to back up the transactions made in the accounting of the company.
  • Prepare trial accounting balances: Ensure that all transactions are recorded in the books of the company and totalise all the debits and the credits of the accounts to find out balance in the accounts.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of accountant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Film production process: The various development stages of making a film, such as scriptwriting, financing, shooting, editing, and distribution.
  • International financial reporting standards: The set of accounting standards and rules aimed at companies listed in the stock exchange which are required to publish and disclose their financial statements.
  • Financial forecasting: The tool used in performing fiscal financial management to identify revenue trends and estimated financial conditions.
  • Liquidity management: The theory and practices around the management of liquidity in a company with the aim of facilitating meeting obligations with thirds parties without compromising the smooth functioning of the company nor incurring in substantial losses.
  • Insolvency law: The legal rules regulating the incapacity to pay debts when they fall due.
  • National generally accepted accounting principles: The accounting standard accepted in a region or country specifying the rules and procedures to disclose financial data.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of accountant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Advise on risk management: Provide advice on risk management policies and prevention strategies and their implementation, being aware of different kinds of risks to a specific organisation.
  • Support development of annual budget: Support the development of the annual budget by producing base data as defined by the operations budget process.
  • Check the production schedule: Check the daily and long term schedules for rehearsal, training, performances, season, tour, etc., taking into account the project timeline and all the preparations required by the production.
  • Consult with producer: Consult with a motion picture producer about requirements, deadlines, budget, and other specifications.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
  • Consult with production director: Consult with the director, producer and clients throughout the production and post-production process.
  • Liaise with auditors:Participate in discussions with the auditors conducting inspections of the organisation’s accounts and inform the managers about the results and conclusions.
  • Manage revenue: Manage revenues, including deposit reconciliation, cash handling, and delivery of deposits to the bank.
  • Prepare financial auditing reports: Compile information on audit findings of financial statements and financial management in order to prepare reports, point out improvement possibilities, and confirm governability.
  • Manage payroll reports: Maintain personnel records as well as payroll reports. Record evaluations, promotions or disciplinary actions.
  • Evaluate budgets: Read budget plans, analyse the expenditures and incomes planned during certain period, and provide judgement on their abidance to the general plans of the company or organism.
  • Manage corporate bank accounts: Have an overview of the bank accounts of the company, their different purposes, and manage them accordingly while keeping an eye on their balance, interest rates, and charges.
  • Calculate production costs: Calculate the costs for every production stage and department.
  • Resolve difficult account allocation cases: Perform various activities in the account area which require special technical expertise such as registering income from investments, capital levies or dividends and interests from fixed-interest securities.
  • Advise on financial matters: Consult, advise, and propose solutions with regards to financial management such as acquiring new assets, incurring in investments, and tax efficiency methods.
  • Perform dunning activities: Send letters or make phone calls to methodically remind individuals about actions they are requested to take by a set deadline. Use a firmer tone as the due date approaches or passes. If there is an automated dunning process, make sure it runs properly.
  • Conduct financial audits: Evaluate and monitor the financial health, the operations and financial movements expressed in the financial statements of the company. Revise the financial records to ensure stewardship and governability.
  • Manage inventory: Control product inventory in balance of availability and storage costs.
  • Exert expenditure control: Analyse expenditure accounts against the income and usages of different company units, companies, or organisms at large. Recommend usage of financial resources in efficient manners.
  • Disseminate information on tax legislation: Provide advise on the possible implications for companies or individuals on decisions regarding tax declaration based on tax legislation. Advise on the favourable tax strategies that could be followed depending on the needs of the client.
  • Perform cost accounting activities: Execute the cost related activities and operations within the accounting activities such as standard cost development, average pricing analysis, margin and cost ratio analysis, inventory control, and variance analysis. Report the results to management and advise on possible courses of action to control and reduce the costs.
  • Monitor after sales records: Keep an eye on the after sales feedback and monitor customer satisfaction or complaints; record after sales calls for thorough data analysis.
  • Keep track of expenses: Make sure that project expenses are duly recorded. Ensure careful bookkeeping, regularly review the budget, respect budget allocations, and take all necessary steps to keep the expenses transparent.
  • Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.

ISCO group and title

2411 – Accountants

  1. Accountant – ESCO
  2. Accountants and Auditors : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Accountant job description sample – Workable
  4. Featured image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Last updated on August 28, 2023