How to become an Accountant

Accountants analyse, report and give advice about the financial dealings of organisations and individuals, and advise on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.

Personal requirements for an Accountant

  • Good communication skills
  • Good presentation skills
  • Able to build rapport with clients
  • Able to analyse and solve problems
  • Good organisational skills
  • Discretion when dealing with confidential information
  • Professional and ethical
  • Able to work as part of a team

Education & Training for an Accountant

To become an accountant you usually have to complete a VET qualification in accounting. Subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, so contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become an accountant by completing a degree in accounting or a related field such as business or commerce with a major in accounting. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are generally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

Graduates of approved courses may qualify for membership or entry to programs offered by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia or the Institute of Public Accountants. Eligibility for membership varies and may require work experience and/or further study. Check organisation websites for further information.

Duties & Tasks of an Accountant

Accountants:

  • Assist with the formulation of budgetary and accounting policies
  • Prepare financial statements for presentation to boards of directors, management, shareholders and statutory bodies
  • Conduct financial investigations, undertake audits, prepare reports and advise on such matters as the purchase and sale of businesses, mergers, financing, suspected fraud, insolvency and taxation
  • Examine the income and expenditure of institutions
  • Provide assurance about the accuracy of information contained in financial reports and their compliance with statutory requirements
  • Provide financial and taxation advice about business structures, plans and operations
  • Liaise with bankers and brokers to establish funds management arrangements
  • Advise on the selection and application of computer-based accounting systems
  • Appraise cash flow and financial risk of investment projects.

Tasks

  • Assisting in formulating budgetary and accounting policies.
  • Providing assurance about the accuracy of information contained in financial reports and their compliance with statutory requirements.
  • Conducting financial investigations, preparing reports, undertaking audits and advising on matters such as the purchase and sale of businesses, mergers, capital financing, suspected fraud, insolvency and taxation.
  • Preparing financial statements for presentation to boards of directors, management, shareholders, and governing and statutory bodies.
  • Introducing and maintaining accounting systems, and advising on the selection and application of computer-based accounting systems.
  • Preparing taxation returns for individuals and organisations.
  • Maintaining internal control systems.
  • Providing financial and taxation advice on business structures, plans and operations.
  • Examining operating costs and organisations' income and expenditure.
  • May appraise cash flow and financial risk of capital investment projects.
  • Liaising with financial institutions and brokers to establish funds management arrangements.

Working conditions for an Accountant

Accountants may work on their own or with other accountants. Accountants in private practice have a high level of public contact, and some positions involve interstate or overseas travel.


Employment Opportunities for an Accountant

Accountants work in diverse environments, including accounting firms, sporting organisations, retail outlets, government organisations, finance companies, banks and building societies, real estate firms, taxation consultancies and community service organisations. Accountants often work in partnership with other accountants or are self-employed.


Specializations

Auditor

An auditor ensures financial statements are true and fair by checking that assets and liabilities mentioned in reports exist, analysing samples of work done and interviewing staff. Auditors are increasingly asked to audit figures relating to environmental emissions.

Budget Accountant

A budget accountant primarily concerned with the development and maintenance of budgeting systems. This involves monitoring budgets and comparing them with actual costs and revenues. They analyse records to determine trends, which assists in managerial control.

Bursar

A bursar responsible for the accounting and general business operation of schools or tertiary institutions. This may include fundraising.

Finance Manager

A finance manager prepares reports for management, summarising the business' financial position in the areas of income, expenses, capital usage and cash flows, and assists with the preparation of strategic plans, budgets and financial forecasts. Finance managers also determine fund requirements and strategies to invest surpluses and assist in the development of accounting and management policies and procedures.

Investment Analyst

An investment analyst evaluates the value of companies for potential buyers and investors, and investigates businesses being sold, bought or merged.

Liquidator and Receiver

A liquidator and receiver assists and advises businesses in financial difficulties, organises company closures in line with legal requirements and, in the case of bankruptcies, sells assets.

Cost Accountant

A cost accountant develops and directs systems so that costs can be recorded and analysed to determine each unit cost. This involves analysing changes that affect production costs (raw materials, manufacturing methods, factory overheads and wages, for example). They provide management with reports to assist in decision-making about production volumes, sale prices and additions or deletions to product lines and/or manufacturing or distribution resources.

Systems Accountant

A systems accountant analyses financial information needs for organisations by reviewing existing systems and working out the best way to meet those needs.

Taxation Consultant/Taxation Agent

A taxation consultant/taxation agent prepares taxation returns and reports, provides advice about tax issues and handles disputes with taxation authorities.

Treasurer

A treasurer plans short-term and long-term finance and advises on the financial consequences. They design and manage investment portfolios to minimise financial risk.

Forensic Accountant

A forensic accountant analyses and prepares accounting documents for use as evidence, often for a court of law.

Accountant

Accountants analyse, report and give advice about the financial dealings of organisations and individuals, and advise on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.

Auditor

An auditor ensures financial statements are true and fair by checking that assets and liabilities mentioned in reports exist, analysing samples of work done and interviewing staff. Auditors are increasingly asked to audit figures relating to environmental emissions.

Budget Accountant

A budget accountant primarily concerned with the development and maintenance of budgeting systems. This involves monitoring budgets and comparing them with actual costs and revenues. They analyse records to determine trends, which assists in managerial control.

Bursar

A bursar responsible for the accounting and general business operation of schools or tertiary institutions. This may include fundraising.

Cost Accountant

A cost accountant develops and directs systems so that costs can be recorded and analysed to determine each unit cost. This involves analysing changes that affect production costs (raw materials, manufacturing methods, factory overheads and wages, for example). They provide management with reports to assist in decision-making about production volumes, sale prices and additions or deletions to product lines and/or manufacturing or distribution resources.

Finance Manager

A finance manager prepares reports for management, summarising the business' financial position in the areas of income, expenses, capital usage and cash flows, and assists with the preparation of strategic plans, budgets and financial forecasts. Finance managers also determine fund requirements and strategies to invest surpluses and assist in the development of accounting and management policies and procedures.

Forensic Accountant

A forensic accountant analyses and prepares accounting documents for use as evidence, often for a court of law.

Investment Analyst

An investment analyst evaluates the value of companies for potential buyers and investors, and investigates businesses being sold, bought or merged.

Liquidator and Receiver

A liquidator and receiver assists and advises businesses in financial difficulties, organises company closures in line with legal requirements and, in the case of bankruptcies, sells assets.

Systems Accountant

A systems accountant analyses financial information needs for organisations by reviewing existing systems and working out the best way to meet those needs.

Taxation Consultant/Taxation Agent

A taxation consultant/taxation agent prepares taxation returns and reports, provides advice about tax issues and handles disputes with taxation authorities.

Treasurer

A treasurer plans short-term and long-term finance and advises on the financial consequences. They design and manage investment portfolios to minimise financial risk.

  • Average age
    Average age
    38 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Moderate
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    52% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,660
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    80% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    199,200 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.9%
    NSW: 38.7%
    NT: 0.5%
    QLD: 15.2%
    SA: 5.4%
    TAS: 1.2%
    VIC: 27.2%
    WA: 9.9%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.4%
    20-24: 6.3%
    25-34: 31.8%
    35-44: 27.1%
    45-54: 18.8%
    55-59: 6.3%
    60-64: 4.6%
    65 and Over: 4.7%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 7.3%
    Bachelor degree: 58.6%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 2.1%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 24.7%
    Year 10 and below: 0.9%
    Year 11: 0.5%
    Year 12: 6%
    Years 11 & 10: 1.3%
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