Prepare to become an accountant

June 19, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

Six Ways You Need to Prepare to Become an Accountant 

By Lauren Wise, content writer for The Accountancy Partnership

When you think about training to become an accountant the first skills that usually spring to mind are an ability to crunch numbers, a penchant for maths and some serious analytical abilities. 

However, while these are all important parts of the job, they’re not the only ones. There’s a lot more to being an accountant than just getting the accounts done and saving people some money – in fact there’s an awful lot more to it.

If you’re hoping to enter the world of accounting and want to make a good impression to your first employer, there are some extra steps you can take to ensure you fully prepared for everything a career in accounting has in store.  

1. Practise your communication

There might be a stereotype that accountants are the recluse of the office world who struggle to get along socially, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  

As an accountant you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with your team as well as admin and sales staff – not to mention with your clients. If you struggle to explain processes to other people, this could be something to work on.  

You’ll need to explain legislation and tax affairs to your clients on a daily basis when at work. One tactic is to try it out on your friends and family first to make sure you’re not only explaining it correctly, but in easy to understand terms.  

2. Actively participate in new things

When you begin your new position, you might be given a couple of your own clients to deal with straight off the bat. At the same time you’ll be getting used to the new systems plus a completely new environment. This could become a bit intimidating if you’re not adequately prepared.  

And this isn’t something that happens just on your first day. The accounting industry is continuously changing, meaning you’ll need to make sure you’re able to adapt to new situations.  

One way you can prepare for this changing environment is by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and actively participating in new experiences. You could try something new each month, whether it’s rock climbing, taking part in a gym class or joining a book club. 

3. Undertake work experience

The easiest way you can get a feel for any career prospect is by applying for work experience in a relevant field. In terms of accounting, this doesn’t just mean applying for work experience with an accountancy firm. 

While this will help you get a good feel for what you’ll be dealing with, applying for work experience at other businesses will also give you a wider understanding to how a business works in general and what you’re clients will be managing on a day-to-day basis. 

4. Lead a project

Another way you can step into an accountant’s shoes is by becoming a leader. Accountants mentor and teach their clients every day, and senior accountants do the same for junior accountants too when necessary. 

That’s why it’s important for you to work on the skills that make a good leader. This could be being approachable, confident and patient – as well as being able to delegate work when needs be.  

You can prepare for this part of the role by leading your own project. Whether you’re head of the university newspaper or taking charge of your next group project, any experience is good. It will help you figure out what it takes to be a good leader.

5. Create a system for working

While accountants might not live up to the reclusive stereotype they’ve been lumbered with, they do live up to another one – being extremely organised.  

If you’re dealing with multiple clients each day, you need to figure out a system for keeping your head on the right set of accounts and not getting confused between different clients.  

The best way to prepare for this is to multitask in your studies and create a clear system that you can understand, helping you to manage juggling several tasks at once.

6. Read up on the industry

The final way you can prepare to become an accountant is by reading up on the industry!  

This may seem obvious, but so many people fail to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world around them, in particular in their own industry.  

Research will not only help you gain a better understanding of how accounting works, but also new legislation that you’ll need to keep an eye on. Tax legislation is ever-changing and being updated, which is why you need to keep your finger on the pulse and monitor the latest trends of the moment. Websites, such as eFinancialCareers, are a great place to start.

Would you like to become an accountant? For more information on this field, check out this sector page on our website. Not sure what career path you want to pursue? Book an appointment with our careers advisers to talk through your ideas. 

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