So you’re looking to advance – or, perhaps, jumpstart – your career. You’ve done your research and considered your options. Accounting is a solid choice, with plenty of opportunity for job growth and success. But did you know that a great accounting program covers more than just math? It also provides students with versatile, problem-solving skills that employees across a variety of industries seek in new hires. These are called transferable skills.
What are transferrable accounting skills, exactly, and how can an associate accounting program help them grow? Here, Goodwin College explores some of the most in-demand and versatile accounting skills, and how they can extend beyond the world of taxes.
Any accounting professional can tell you that there is so much more to accounting than audits, tax returns, and financial statements. If you know the fundamentals of accounting, you have a basis of knowledge that can unlock many other career paths, thanks to the many transferable skills acquired. Transferable accounting skills are a set of skills can be utilized in a variety of careers, beyond the calculator. These skills add to your marketability as a job candidate and can help move you from one job to another with ease.
Accountants spend much of their time examining clients’ financial statements and balancing bookkeeping ledgers. This practice can sharpen those problem-solving skills – a clear winner for the transferable skills category. In a study conducted by Robert Half, over 40 percent of accountants reported that problem-solving was their favorite part of working in the accounting profession.
“Accounting and finance professionals regularly mine data to identify historical trends and make projections based on those findings,” says Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director for Robert Half. “They also can uncover potential areas for concern and put their problem-solving skills to work in the process.”
Along with all of that problem-solving in accounting comes organization and the ability to prioritize. Accountants must keep track of a variety of personal and corporate files, statements, and data. When a client shows up with a shoebox of receipts, it is up to the accountant to make sense of it all and get a comprehensive collection of information. This is certainly a very attractive skill for any professional to obtain, no matter the career.
If you think an accountant spends every moment of the work day crunching numbers, you’re missing a crucial part of the job. Much of the accountant’s day is, in fact, spent working with people. From extensive conversations and meetings with clients, to calls with the IRS, communication is a key part of the job. You can’t just hide behind a computer all day long. You need to engage with other human beings! And just like a doctor or nurse is taught to have good bedside manner, an accountant must have excellent communication skills to succeed in the field. When you are talking about someone’s money – and, oftentimes, someone’s business – a personal touch goes a long way.
This one may surprise – and possibly intimidate – the math lovers looking to jump into accounting. Yes, you do need some writing skills to be successful in the field. You may not be expected to pen the next New York Times Best-Seller, but accountants write financial analyses, memorandums for clients and reports for their managers. So it’s important to know how to communicate these findings and information in a clear and concise way. Many schools, like Goodwin College, offer classes specifically for business writing. The Accounting curriculum at Goodwin includes Writing Competency for this very reason.
- Focus on Detail
It goes without saying that accounting requires a critical eye that can have laser focus on detail. The numbers on tax returns, income statements, and cash-flow reports need to be precise – we’re talking down to the penny. A tiny error has the potential to cost a person or corporation big-time, so a sharp, critical eye with a focus on detail is crucial. With spreadsheets full of data, it can be easy to let something slip, especially after a few hours of work. Someone who has an eye for detail may be perfect for the accounting field, as well as most other industries that value this trait.
- Excel in Excel
Many people have Microsoft Office skills on their resumes, but in accounting (as well as business, marketing, financial services, even parts of retail and management), you really need to know your Excel. The program is often used for spreadsheets, so you must be able to use formulas to keep track of budgets and expenses. A great accounting school will help students master this skill. And mastering Excel is one of those rare qualities that can help you stand out among the competition in a variety of different level positions.
It may sound a bit ironic, but not all accountants work primarily with taxes. Therefore, this is a seriously valuable skill to obtain. Those that are skilled in taxation are becoming more valuable, and so they can get paid a lot more than other accounting pros. Goodwin College prepares students for taxation basics with our Principles of Taxation course. Even if you decide not to become a tax accountant per say, this competitive skill can help your resume stand out.
- Business Ethics
Just like the soft skills of communication and organization, a good sense of business can help you no matter which career path you ultimately decide to take. Employers across the board want to see a candidate who can stand out with a solid understanding of the professional world. Whether you decide to become a bookkeeper, a CPA, or pursue an old dream of opening up your own food truck, the business ethics taught at Goodwin College are priceless in preparing you for your career ahead.
Not everyone is a born-leader, but many accounting students develop the skills needed to manage a team of professionals. The massive workload that comes with an audit, for example, demands an accounting employee to see the project through with a fine-tooth comb. This is where those organization and attention to detail skill come in handy, too. But an accounting professional must also have the ability to successfully oversee these projects while working with colleagues, to ensure the successful completion of the task at hand. This is a skill that can take you far and wide throughout your career, no matter which path you choose.
It may seem a little obvious, but accounting itself is an incredible transferable skill to have for a successful future. It’s safe to say that every industry today requires some extent of financial backup, whether that’s a bookkeeper for a retail store or a medical biller and coder for a healthcare facility. That said, it’s helpful to have a strong understanding of auditing and taxation straight out of school, particularly if you plan on entering the accounting field.
In our career-oriented associate degree program at Goodwin College, you will learn to manage bookkeeping and lower-level accounting operations in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. You will gain experience in entering transactional, adjusting, and closing entries into an accounting system; investigating trial balance discrepancies; managing payroll; and preparing financial reports. You will also achieve professional certification in bookkeeping, QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel – all valuable accounting technologies used by the pros today.
The Associate Degree in Accounting program at Goodwin College can provide you with fundamental accounting skills that many employers today are after. Our program is flexible and convenient for students balancing work and home life, with classes offered days, nights, and weekends, too. Take courses on-campus or some online!
Learn how you can get started in this promising field by contacting Goodwin College at 800-889-3282 for more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.