JOB SEARCH / JUL. 15, 2015
version 6, draft 6

Accounting the Years: How the Job Has Changed Over Time

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It’s all about the Benjamins! In order for businesses to run smoothly it’s important to keep track of those Benjamins and how many of them come in and how many of them go out. Accountants closely monitor transactions, patterns, payroll, taxes, and numbers in the red. Without keeping an eye out for profit it’s difficult to run a successful business or help the business become more successful. In order to decipher the viability of a business it’s important to dig through the numbers and figure out cost and profit. This is bread and butter for the accounting industry.

See Also: How to Find a Job in Accounting

As with every industry, the job will inevitably change over time. The accounting world is highly reliant on technology for efficiency. With technology being one of the fastest changing industries in the world, accountants have to keep up with the curve. However, accounting is not only affected by the ever changing technology, it also has to deal with the changes in the accounting culture, the highs and lows of the economy, and the always changing university system.  

Technology

Being an accountant means being technologically savvy. There has been much technological advancement to make the job easier and training has focused on the technology required for the job.  Education doesn’t stop at the university system; there is training on the job, classes to take to advance your career while working, and a ton of available software workshops. Technology has been very useful for the accounting field, but there are a few technological advancements that played a bigger role.

  • Calculations: From the abacus to the 10-key, accountants are always finding different and more effective ways to make calculations while avoiding mistakes. As you can imagine, numbers imputed and calculated by hand had a fair amount of errors. Finding and fixing mistakes became a lot easier once printing calculators came in, but human error was still time consuming. Now a lot of calculations are done with software programs like Excel and QuickBooks to eliminate human error.
  • Spread sheets: Ledgers have been necessary in the accounting world since the late 1400’s when Luca Pacioli created the double-entry system. From an old fashioned ledger system written with a pencil to Excel spreadsheets, this format has come a long way.
  • Data storage: Explaining the cloud system to the 1920’s accountants who used the Marchant mechanical calculators and giant wooden filing cabinets would be quite a difficult conversation. Even the change from the 1980’s floppy disc is pretty drastic. The ability to store data in a cloud system or save them in software programs has saved a lot of time, as well as trees.
  • Software: The creation of software programs in relation to accounting has had an effect on all of the previous mentioned forms of technology. Learning different types of software is an absolute necessity in the accounting industry.

Culture

Accounting culture has also had its fair amount of changes. Being in the accounting industry and working with money has always been seen as a reputable position that involves high intelligence, schooling, and a higher than average understanding of numbers. This has not changed. The areas of accounting culture that have seen the most change over the years are customer service and women in the workplace.

Female CPA’s were rare even into the 1970’s. However, as of now, 50 percent of accountants entering the profession are female. Women in leadership roles are on the rise as well which has greatly affected the professional landscape.

Today the role of the accountant involves more customer service skills than it ever has. In the past the job was just about crunching numbers and not requiring much client interaction. After the various technological advances making the job faster and more accurate, this has opened up the door of consultation for accountants. The job does not only involve crunching numbers anymore, but also analysing numbers and consulting with businesses on how to make profit. Gone are the days when accountants were task-oriented, glorified calculators.

Employment

According to the Brilliant 2014 Hiring Forecast, there are more accounting staff jobs available in the United States in August 2014 than there were in all of 2013. Also, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for accountants is at the average for all professions rate and the average annual salary was about $65,000 per year in 2013. While the job market might not be skyrocketing and begging for employees like in the nursing field, it is growing at a steady rate which is a healthy representation of the field as a whole.

Moreover, being an accountant means a whole lot more than it did years ago; there are now many prospects for individuals interested in the accounting field. Some job titles available are tax accountants, forensic accountants, auditors, managerial accountants, financial accountants, governmental accountants, or accounting information systems auditors, international accountants, sports accountants, etc. The salaries and job descriptions vary for each, but it shows that the field for accountants is broadening.

Education

As far as schooling goes, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is a necessity for the prospective accountant. Most states require graduates to have a total of 150 hours of coursework before sitting the exam. This equates to about five years of school. There’s also the option of the Certified Management Accountant certification that requires a bachelor’s degree, as well as two years of work in management accounting before taking the exam. There are a few other certifications available as well, but the type of certificate you’ll need will depend on your employer.

One important thing to keep in mind during schooling is the emphasis on technology. It will never hurt to take a class on Excel when there is new software available. Stay up to date with new systems and practices to make the job easier. Being flexible and welcoming change is the only sure way to succeed as an accountant.       

See Also: How to Write a Resume as an Advertising Account Executive

At least we know that one thing will never change; this job will always be about the Benjamins.

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