A job description does not define the role of a professional. Professionals should possess sound judgment, consistent ethical behavior, excellent interpersonal skills, technical expertise, and loyalty to their profession and a responsibility to serve the best interests of the public. A professional also recognizes the need to stay current in his or her respective field and never stops learning.
Before embarking on any career it is always a good idea to take an inventory of one’s personal skills, interests and characteristics. Successful accounting professionals should have the following aptitudes.
An interest in numbers
A sense or orderliness
An analytical mind
Always striving for accuracy
Vision and creative ability
The ability to carry assignments through to the end
Must be able to handle mass detail without losing sight of goals
Most work in accounting does not require advanced mathematics but a feel for numbers is essential. Figures have meaning for accountants and we use them to interpret results through ratios and percentages of other figures. Possessing an analytical mind is not only about analyzing the numbers. When the relationships of these numbers vary from anticipated results we want to know why. Accountants do not take information at face value but “drill down” to find the reasons behind such variations.
Accountants always strive for accuracy. Accuracy is one of the most important traits of an accountant. The presentation of facts requires accuracy of word usage as well as numerical results. The omission of facts or the use of ambiguous terminology in financial statements can mislead persons who rely on those statements when making business decisions.
Accountants frequently work with information that was recorded by others and then summarized. A line on a balance sheet for inventory may represent many different products of various quantities all rolled up into one number. Our job as accountants is to develop and maintain procedures to ensure the accurate reporting of inventory. This requires not only skill with detail but also skill working with people.
Interpersonal skills can make or break a person’s professional career. The ability to effectively communicate, orally and in writing, as well as maintain self-confidence are important qualities that employers and clients look for when hiring a professional accountant.
A healthy attitude toward working as a part of a team is key in the accounting profession. Most accountants are extroverts and enjoy working with people. They are self-starters and prefer a changing work environment with new challenges. Accountants are always alert for opportunities to test and improve their skills.