Accountants analyse, report and give advice about the financial dealings of organisations and individuals, and advise on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.
To become an accountant you usually have to complete a VET qualification in accounting. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should 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 normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.
Accountants may perform the following tasks:
Accountants may work on their own or with other accountants. Accountants in private practice have a high level of public contact. Some positions involve travel, which is often interstate or overseas.
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. They can work in partnership with other accountants or be self-employed. Employment opportunities for accountants can vary from year to year. This may be due to changes in taxation and other commercial laws, changes in the demand for financial advice and planning services, industry restructuring and general economic activity.
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.
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.
A bursar responsible for the accounting and general business operation of schools or tertiary institutions. This may include fundraising.
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.
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.
A forensic accountant analyses and prepares accounting documents for use as evidence, often for a court of law.
An investment analyst evaluates the value of companies for potential buyers and investors, and investigates businesses being sold, bought or merged.
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.
A systems accountant analyses financial information needs for organisations by reviewing existing systems and working out the best way to meet those needs.
A taxation consultant/taxation agent prepares taxation returns and reports, provides advice about tax issues and handles disputes with taxation authorities.
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.