What do Accountants do?
Accountants are generally responsible for the preparation and maintenance of financial documents and records. These may include audit books, legal compliance, reporting systems, financial statements, the handling of tax documents and more. This is a vital component of businesses to ensure taxes and other important financial requirements are met.
Every business in the world relies on accounting in some way. Whether that means having a specialist in-house or contracting someone on an ad hoc basis, there is always a requirement.
What Are the Career Outcomes for an Accounting Course?
A career in Accounting could see you managing the books in a small business or working in the finance department of a large multinational company. Here are some potential job titles:
- Accounting Clerk
- Accounting Manager
- Chief Financial Officer
- Financial Analyst
- Payroll Manager
- Tax Specialist
What is the Job Outlook for Accounting Professionals?
If you’re considering a career in accounting, here are some figures you’ll like. From IBIS World, PayScale and the Australian Government Job Outlook Initiative:
- The accounting industry is expected to grow by 4% each year over the next five year to be worth almost $20 billion
- High employment growth: Over 50,000 job openings for accountants to 2018
- Salary range for Accountants: $39,403 – $81,510
- 7% of Accountants work full-time
What Are the Types of Accounting Courses?
There is a huge range of accounting courses available. These courses are offered to people living in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Australia wide. From beginners short courses to TAFE, all the way up to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. So it can be difficult to know where to start. Are you are looking to enter the accounting industry for the first time and don’t have any experience? A TAFE course such as a Certificate or Diploma in Accounting is a great place to start.
If you have some experience in Accounting and are looking to take the next step in your career, an undergraduate degree might be more suitable. Following on from this, a Postgraduate qualification in Accounting will take you to the top of the industry. Here is a brief look at the various levels of Accounting courses that are available and an explanation of each.
If you’re wanting to dip your toes into the world of accounting a short course might be for you. Short courses vary in length but are generally a matter of weeks. They can help you to gain a basic understanding of the industry or hone your skills in a particular area depending on the course.
A Certificate III qualification will generally be in the area of accounts administration. This is an entry-level course designed as an introduction to the financial services industry. It is a vocational education/TAFE-level nationally recognised qualification. Graduates of this course may be employed in roles such as accounts payable, payroll clerk, assistant accountant, customer service, accounts receivable and others. Generally there are minimal pre-requisites so applicants without experience in the field may apply.
A Certificate IV in Accounting is also a vocational education or TAFE level qualification covering the basics of accounting. Students will learn fundamentals such as preparing financial statements, maintaining accounting systems (such as MYOB, XERO and others), reporting on business performance, completing BAS statements, preparing budgets and understanding accounts receivable and payable functions. This level of qualification will see graduates placed into roles such as accounts clerk, payroll clerk, BAS agent, accounts payable/receivable or other similar positions.
Whilst still a TAFE level qualification, the Diploma of Accounting is slightly more in depth and tends to be longer in duration. Where Certificates will typically be less than one year in length, a diploma can take 1-2 years to complete. Graduates have specialised knowledge and skills in the field such as preparing tax returns, reporting on business performance and preparing financial statements. Upon completion, students will be applying for slightly more senior positions such as tax agents, accounts office manager or senior financial clerk.
Undergraduate qualifications such as the Bachelor of Accounting or Bachelor of Business (Accounting) typically require the student to spend 3 years full-time. This can be fast-tracked and if the student has already completed a Diploma they may be eligible to receive first year credits. Delivery is available 100% online to give people the flexibility to study around other commitments. Graduates are qualified to work in areas like financial planning, funds management and professional accounting practices.
Postgrad courses in Accounting include Graduate Cetificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters level qualifications. Applicants to these courses don’t necessarily have to have come from a strictly accounting background; they may come from other vocations. A postgraduate degree may be used to gain a deeper understanding of how accounting applies to other areas of business such as finance, operations, banking or as a specialisation in accounting. Postgraduate’s can take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years full-time.
Is accounting right for you?
It goes without saying that to be an accountant you need to enjoy numbers. Numbers and maths are an integral part of the day-to-day tasks and functions of every accountant. Whether you’re an entry-level accounts payable clerk or chief financial officer number will be part of your life.
Outside of being a whiz with numbers, accountants should have strong analytical and critical thinking skills. They should also be organised, detailed and be able to effectively communicate to clients and colleagues/employers.
Other skills that are important for accountants to possess include teamwork, initiative, problem-solving, communication, planning and organisation, innovation and technology. Being able to demonstrate these ‘non-technical’ skills to an employer or client will go a long way to achieving success in your accounting career.