Important Accounting Skills for Workplace Success

This illustration describes an Accounting career overview including "Accounting Skills," "Certification," "Job Description," and "Salary Range."

@ The Balance 2020 

Accountants enjoy a solid job outlook and wages that are well above the median earnings for American workers. If you enjoy working with numbers, solving problems, and organizing statements and records, you might find your dream job in the accounting world.

There are many accounting positions to choose from, including accountant, auditor, comptroller, bookkeeper, accounting clerk, and more. All of these positions require a core group of similar skills.

Accountant Job Responsibilities

Accountants collect, organize, and track financial information for organizations. They prepare financial reports regarding revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities for internal use by staff and to meet requirements by the government, shareholders, and other external entities.

Accountants conduct audits to determine if client organizations or their own employer is following established legal practices and company policies for financial transactions and record keeping. They prepare reports with their findings and recommend remedies to resolve problems and reduce the risk of lawsuits and financial losses due to staff errors or criminal activity.

Accountants prepare tax returns to minimize tax liabilities and ensure that income is reported according to the IRS code. They advise clients or management at their firm regarding strategies to limit future tax burdens.

Public accountants must go through a rigorous certification process that includes passing the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam as well as meeting educational and work experience requirements.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for accountants is expected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, as fast as the average for all occupations. Accountants with professional certifications like the CPA designation are expected to have the best job prospects.

Accountant Salary

The median annual salary for accountants was $71,550 in May 2019, according to the BLS. The bottom 10% earned less than $44,480, while the top 10% earned more than $124,450.

Accounting Skills List and Examples

Accounting requires certain hard skills, such as mathematics and expertise with accounting software. A thorough knowledge of relevant laws and regulations is necessary for many positions. Accountants must be detail oriented, have strong analytical skills, and a facility with computer software such as spreadsheet programs to organize and report financial data.

Accounting also requires a number of soft skills that you might not learn in school, but will definitely help you land and keep a job.

You can use the following list of sought-after skills to determine if a career in accountancy might be a good match for you.

Top Five Accounting Skills

1. Analytical

Accounting professionals must read, compare, and interpret figures and data. For example, accountants might work to minimize a client’s tax liability by looking at their finances. Auditors might analyze data to find instances of people misusing funds. Being able to analyze numbers and figures in documents is a critical skill for all accounting jobs.

  • Accuracy
  • Analysis
  • Attention to Detail
  • Compliance
  • Mathematical
  • Numerical Competence

2. Communication/Interpersonal

Accountants have to be able to communicate with other departments, colleagues, and clients. They might have to communicate in person, via email, or over the phone. Accountants also often have to give presentations. Therefore, their written and oral communication must be strong. Often, they have to present complex mathematical ideas in a clear, accessible way.

3. Detail Oriented

A lot of accounting is about paying attention to the little details. Accounting professionals often wade through a lot of data that they must analyze and interpret. This requires great attention to detail.

4. Information Technology

Accounting jobs often require knowledge of a variety of computer programs and systems. For example, an accountant might need to use finance-related software systems (like QuickBooks), a bookkeeper might need advanced Excel skills, or an auditor might need to know certain data modeling programs.

Having a grasp of IT related to the accounting field will put you ahead of the job competition.

5. Organizational/Business

Organizational skills are important for accounting jobs. Accountants, bookkeepers, and others in the accounting field must work with and manage a range of clients’ documents. They need to be able to keep these documents in order, and manage each client’s data.

  • Asset Management
  • Business Awareness
  • Compliance
  • Corporate Reports
  • Credit Management
  • Finance
  • Professionalism
  • QuickBooks
  • Special Projects

More Accountant Job Skills

  • Account Analysis
  • Account Reconciliation
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Accounting Software
  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounting Processes
  • Accounting Principles
  • Accounts Receivable
  • ADP
  • Aging Reports
  • Annual Reports
  • Audits
  • Audit Schedules
  • Balance Sheets
  • Banking
  • Bank Deposits
  • Bank Reconciliations
  • Bill Payment
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgets
  • Cash Receipts
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Check Runs
  • Corporate Tax
  • Cost Accounting
  • Credits
  • Crystal Reports
  • Debt Management
  • Depreciation
  • Federal Tax Law
  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Software
  • Financial Statements
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Fixed Assets
  • Forecasts
  • Forecasting
  • Full Charge Bookkeeping
  • Full Cycle Month-End Close
  • Full Cycle Year-end Close
  • GAAP
  • General Ledger
  • Great Plains Accounting
  • Great Plains Dynamics
  • Income Tax
  • Interest Calculations
  • Invoices
  • Job Cost Reports
  • Journal Entry Preparation/Posting
  • Monthly Closes
  • Oracle
  • Organization
  • Paychex
  • Payroll
  • Payroll Liabilities
  • Payroll Taxes
  • Peachtree
  • Personal Tax
  • Petty Cash
  • Platinum
  • Prepaid Income/Expenses
  • Profit and Loss
  • Reconciliation
  • Regulatory Filings
  • Reporting
  • Revenue Projections
  • Revenue Recognition
  • Sales Receipts
  • SAP
  • State Tax Law
  • Tax Analysis
  • Tax Compliance
  • Tax Filing
  • Tax Law
  • Tax Liabilities
  • Tax Reporting
  • Tax Returns
  • Tax Software
  • Trial Balance
  • Vouchers
  • Year-End Reporting

Best Ways to Include These Skills in Your Resume

There are common accounting skills that you will be expected to know how to utilize as a new member of a public accounting firm or as a corporate accountant.

Match your qualifications to the job. An employer will generally list these skills under the Job Responsibilities section of their position description – and your resume needs to be structured in such a way that these skills immediately catch the eye of the hiring manager.

Highlight relevant skills at the top of your resume. The best place to showcase your accounting hard skills is at the very beginning of your resume, right after your opening Qualifications Summary section.

These keywords will “pop” on the page if you place them in a dedicated Core Competencies section or table.

In the resume example below, notice how the most important accounting skills – “Corporate Accounting, Corporate Reporting, Cost Accounting, Tax Accounting, GAAP, Risk Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Regulatory Compliance, Asset Management, General Ledger, Variance Analysis, Financial Audits, Financial Analysis”—are listed even before the Professional Experience section. They are then repeated, whenever possible, throughout the job descriptions and the bulleted key contributions text.

Include the software programs you use. Because most financial reporting and accounting is conducted using sophisticated software, you should also list the programs you frequently use, either as a line of text within your Qualifications Summary or, as in the example above, in a Technical Proficiencies section.

Whether you are applying for a position as a public accountant with a financial services firm or as a private accountant with a company, you will need to list the specific accounting proficiencies that you possess—things like AP/AR administration, general ledger reconciliation, tax accounting, or auditing.

Your best guide for knowing which of your skills to emphasize is the specific description of the job to which you are applying. If the description mentions specific preferred skills, you need to include these in your resume.

Showcase your education, certification, and training. Earning your CPA certification or taking other continuing education courses will set you apart from other candidates who have not completed advanced accounting training. If you are still in the process of studying for your CPA designation, list the most relevant courses you have taken in the Education section of your resume.

Mention soft skills. While accountants are required to have strong analytical and mathematical skills, they also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and/or departmental team members. Mentioning soft skills such as teamwork and oral/written communications talents will help to convince a potential employer that you would thrive not only working independently, but also in collaborative settings.

Accountant Resume Example

This is an example of a resume for an accountant position. Download the accountant resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of an accounting job resume sample
 @ The Balance 2020

Accountant Position: Resume Example

Bradley Applicant

123 Main Street • Greenville, SC 29601 • (123) 456-7890 • bradley.applicant@email.com

CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT

Proven success with budgets, financial analysis, and tax strategies

Analytical and meticulous CPA with proven effectiveness preparing financial reports, budgets, analyses, and forecasts in strict compliance with GAAP and all regulatory standards. Well-versed in all corporate accounting functions, including complex federal and state tax accounting.

Core competencies & professional training:

  • Corporate tax accounting
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Internal & external audits
  • Cost accounting
  • Risk management
  • Regulatory compliance

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

MASON FINANCIAL SERVICES INC., Greenville, S.C.
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT (June 2018—Present)

Work closely with corporate clients and independent business owners to compile financial data, facilitate tax planning and preparation, and coordinate financial audits. Prepare and file SEC reports.

Notable accomplishments:

  • Realigned financial reporting processes for client company, ensuring their first on-time submission of federal tax documents in four years and laying strong groundwork for future audit-free filings.
  • Led succession planning for 2019 merger of company with a smaller CPA firm.

LEOPOLD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, Clemson, S.C.
STAFF ACCOUNTANT (November 2017—May 2018)

Performed general business accounting functions for manufacturing company.

Notable Accomplishments:

  • Reviewed and reconciled 18-month backlog of unbalanced financial records.
  • Implemented new processes to ensure timely preparation of monthly, quarterly, and annual closings.

EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY, Clemson, S.C.
Bachelor of Science in Accounting & Finance, 2017

Information Technology Skills
QuickBooks • Crystal Reports • Peachtree • Paychex • SAP • Microsoft Office Suite 

Accountant Cover Letter Example

The cover letter example below highlights the candidate's most relevant skills and qualifications for the job.

Bradley Applicant, CPA
123 Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Bradley.Applicant@email.com
Mobile: 360.555.1234

September 16, 2020

Mary Smith
Manager, Human Resources
Upwards Corporation
456 Office Park Lane
Greenville, SC 29601

Dear Ms. Smith:

Please accept the attached resume as a sign of my deep interest in the Accountant position that has opened with Upwards Corporation.

As a Certified Public Accountant with solid experience in both public and private accounting, I have developed a broad skillset in the fields of corporate treasury accounting, tax preparation, and auditing that will ensure my flawless analysis and organization of your company’s financial data. A few of my qualifications for this role include:

  • 5 years’ CPA experience with Greenville’s Mason Financial Services, successfully performing all accounting functions for business clients including Grant Seeds Co., Southern Interiors, and Harrison’s Market.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail in handling all tax and general ledger accounting, AP/AR, and budget / payroll preparation functions.
  • Certified Public Accountant designation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Clemson University, graduating Magna cum Laude.
  • Excellent understanding of QuickBooks, Crystal Reports, Peachtree, Paychex, SAP, and Microsoft Office Suite complemented by the ability to teach clients and peers rising software applications.

Eager to return to the intellectual challenges of private corporate accounting, I would welcome the chance to speak with you at greater length about how I could contribute to Upwards Corporation’s accounting department.

Thank you for your time, consideration, and forthcoming response.

Sincerely,

Bradley Applicant

Article Sources

  1. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Accountants and Auditors.” Accessed Sept.16, 2020.

  2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Table 1. Median Usual Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Sex, Quarterly Averages, Seasonally Adjusted.” Accessed Sept. 16, 2020.