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Whats the most important skill to have when becoming an accountant?

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Michael’s Answer

Hello Joshua,

There are lots of different specialization areas in accounting, each with their own skill sets. However, I've found that the biggest things are: attention to detail, communication, and the ability to analyse/synthesize information in a broad range of contexts. Your clients will be relying on you to pick up on important details, determine how they fit into the broader context, draw on a large body of knowledge to determine what the potential impact or proper treatment is, and explain it to them in a way they can understand. They'll be putting a lot of trust in you, so you need to be able to make informed conclusions and back them up with documented evidence so that stakeholders can make the right decisions.

On your path to becoming an accountant, you'll be absorbing lots of information from different sources. Understanding the fundamental theories and generally accepted accounting principals early on will help you navigate through almost every situation - it's usually a case of knowing where to find the information you need to evidence your work. This is where analysis and synthesis comes in: you'll have lots of cases to write, culminating in some very long examinations. It'll be important to be able to quickly break down a case into component requirements and information, determine the key issues, then address them in order of priority.

Take a look at some of the skills required by major accounting firms and the AICPA, and have a discussion with some of your professors of local recruiters. Good luck on your career path! There are lots of really interesting things happening right now in the accounting profession - it's a great time to get in and shake things up.

Best regards,


Michael recommends the following next steps:

Take a look at the AICPA site.
Read through recruiting websites for major accounting firms.
Get in touch with local recruiters through recruiting sites and LinkedIn.
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Steven’s Answer

Hi Joshua,

I see you've already gotten a number of quality responses so I'll try not to be repetitive. While I fully agree that strong communication skills and attention to detail are critical components of being a successful professional accountant, I'd like to stress the importance of efficiency and being digitally adaptive. The field has been evolving and changing with technology and will continue to do so. I'd recommend becoming comfortable working with Excel if you aren't already.

If you already consider yourself an advanced Excel user and are looking for more of a challenge, I encourage you to begin familiarizing yourself with automation tools like Alteryx. Technology is evolving business, ALL business, and staying current with a mindset geared towards innovation will help you stay ahead of the competition. Both in the field of accounting or any other sector of business. Simply put, investing in building your technological wheelhouse will give you an advantage in your career. Period.

I hope this was helpful, and good luck in your future endeavors!


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Brent D.’s Answer


This a great question and I think you will receive a number of different responses depending on the responder's perspective. Regardless of the specific attribute someone identifies, I think all attributes / characteristics can be benefited by TENACITY. Tenacity can come in different forms and take on different looks but it remains crucial to success, not only in accounting but in every day life. You will experience the need for tenacity throughout the day, either by persevering through a difficult deliverable or through juggling the multiple competing priorities an accountant may be tasked with. Accountants are expected to be detail oriented, analytical, and knowledgeable. But if you are not able to maintain focus and persevere, then these characteristics become less impactful. The reward, though, for becoming a tenacious accountant is an interesting and challenging career. Best of luck with your future endeavours and stay TENACIOUS!


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Brien’s Answer

Problem solving skills, being able to communicate in a clear and an effective manner. Being proficient in technology.

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Amy (Scheffer)’s Answer

Hi - There are many important skills to have. From my experience I would say technology skills are the most important to have looking down the road. I would also say critical thinking is extremely important.

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naveen’s Answer

The terms accounting deals with money as a form of energy and its distribution.How money flows and enable the business and economy.
Those who study accounting need to specialize in topics such as auditing, tax, risk assessment, international accounting and management accounting. courses in advanced financial accounting, advanced managerial accounting, Federal Income Taxation, Tax Code, and Auditing.

The primary task of accountants,is to prepare and examine financial records. They make sure that records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors perform overviews of the financial operations of a business in order to help it run efficiently.

Bachelor of Science in accounting information system
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
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Brendon’s Answer

Hey Joshua,

Great question! As Mike mentioned, there are many different specializations you can have in the Accounting profession, which all require a different set of skills but there are also skill sets that are transferable between specializations.

In my own personal experience and opinion, I would say that some of the most important skills to have are being able to effectively communicate, have a questioning mind, trust but verify that the information your dealing with is correct, be able to adapt to new situations, clients, teams, etc. Another big thing that is becoming more and more important is to be inept in the new advances in technology. The Accounting profession is making some big moves in terms of how we use technology to do the work that we do and staying current on this will tremendously help you in the work you do but also differentiating yourself among your peers. If your school has a class on the Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel, please take it! You will use it everyday and in ways you think you will not!

Many people believe that Accounting is all about math...and while we do deal with numbers on a daily basis, it's less about knowing how to add them up and more about understanding the technical accounting and theories behind the Accounting. We have Excel and other programs to do the math for us...our clients and our companies are looking to us to make sure the Accounting is done right, in accordance with the accounting guidance.

If you would like to know more information, I encourage you to get plugged into the various recruiting events PwC and other firms have on campus. Those events are your opportunities to build relationships with employees of potential places to work who are usually open books and can answer any question you might have. It also allows firms to see who you are and your personality. I also encourage you to, visit the AICPA's website, the CPA Society of your State's website, and talk to your Accounting professors. Your professors have often times worked in the profession before becoming a professor and have great insight into the profession as well.

Hope this helps!


Brendon recommends the following next steps:

Get plugged into the various recruiting events PwC has on campus.
Visit the AICPA and CPA Society in your State's websites.
Talk to Accounting Professors as they are often times former Accountants and Auditors.
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Alexandra’s Answer

Hi! I am glad to hear that you are considering accounting as a future occupation. While we all find it hard to choose a single skill that makes one a good accountant, I would say that the most important skill to develop and demonstrate is being attentive. You need to pay attention to:

  1. Your client's questions and needs
  2. The accounting rules and best practices
  3. The team you work with: their strengths and weaknesses and how they work together

If you are mindful of both the people and the rules and you pay attention to all aspects of the work, you can grow to be a highly skilled, helpful and caring professional.

Good luck!

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Haley’s Answer

Important skills in accounting can vary depending on what type of accounting you decide to go into. As an auditor, some of the most important skills to have is maintaining good client relationships and teamwork. Additionally, you should always have a questioning mind and over-communicate with team leaders about any potential problems that may arise during the audit.