How to Become an Accounting Analyst

There are many routes to becoming an accounting analyst, but all require mastering certain skills and technical knowledge. Here is a comprehensive guide with 5 steps to help you become an accounting analyst—including key skills, job roles, and responsibilities.

How to Become an Accounting Analyst

With a job outlook estimated at 4% from 2019-2029, the accounting field continues to look promising for applicants. One particularly prevalent job in the industry involves accounting analysts. 

An accounting analyst collects, interprets, and presents a company's financial records to high-level financial decision-makers so they can make sound financial choices. The role requires that you have relevant key skills, education, and software knowledge to succeed with the required job responsibilities. ‌

Whether you are a new graduate, mid-level professional, career switcher, or looking to upskill, following the essential steps below can bring you towards the ideal accounting analyst career.

5 Steps To Become an Accounting Analyst

Close-up on laptop screen.
Accounting analysts should be masters of data analysis.

1. Ensure you have the right credentials

At a minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree, preferably in accounting, finance, or related fields. As accounting analysts deal with large volumes of numerical data, taking advanced mathematics or statistics courses will look especially strong on an application. Moreover, higher-level analyst positions will likely require an advanced degree, such as a Master's Degree in Accounting, leading to a higher salary and application competitiveness. ‌

Some companies will also require that candidates hold a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate. Even if not required, obtaining this certificate can help you with the job-seeking process. In fact, 86% of job seekers said that having a CPA and similar certifications helped them secure a position.

2. Become familiar with analytical software

Accounting analysts will interact with advanced productivity, risk management, and data visualization software and tools. As such, you will need strong computer competency and the ability to learn new software programs quickly and efficiently. 

Along with accounting software, as well as basic spreadsheet and data-entry tools like Microsoft Office and Excel, you will need to become familiar with common analytical software. Some of the most frequently used in this position involve Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and MySQL. Studying the most customary ones will give you a good understanding of what is expected of you from a technical standpoint. 

3. Understand accounting analyst skills

While hard analytical skills such as mathematics and computer competency are important, it's also paramount to ensure you have the proper soft skills for this career. In fact, 96% of employers rate soft skills—or skills that reflect your communicative abilities and working style—as "very important." 

Fortunately, you've most likely developed your soft skills while studying at university or working at other jobs. Here are the top soft skills qualified applicants should regard:

  • Critical thinking

As an accounting analyst, your job is to collect financial data on a large scale and evaluate, organize, and analyze it in a way that best benefits a company's income and spending. It requires you to think critically about possible discrepancies, construct potential solutions, and provide accurate projections. You will have to approach each set of data with a "why" and "how" mindset.

  • Communication

Working in this profession requires that you work alongside other accounting department members and either join in or lead meetings on current financial standings. Moreover, you will be presenting financial reports to the key financial figures in an organization. Therefore, it's important to have strong verbal and oral communication skills around a variety of other people.

  • Time management 

Financial trends change all the time, as do financial priorities, particularly in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, you will need to have excellent time management abilities to ensure the necessary reports are created and presented in time when big decisions need to be made per recent trends.

4. Enhance your resume 

After you've ensured that you have the right credentials and hard and soft skills, you can begin your journey into securing an accounting analyst job. Before applying for any job opening, you'll want to make sure that your resume will stand out among other candidates. There are a few key components of a worthy resume, as listed here:

  • Have an optimal layout and style

How a resume looks is often just as important as what it consists of. Resumes with irregular layouts, strange fonts, or a multitude of colors are sure to be looked over. Monster recommends that you use a maximum of two fonts, be consistent with any bolding and italics, avoid underlining, and utilize bullet points to highlight your skills and academic and work achievements.

  • Include relevant information

To avoid an overly wordy resume, only include your contact information, a brief personal statement, a list of your work achievements and academic degrees, and a highlight of relevant hard and soft skills. At the end of your resume, include a list of references for the potential employer to confirm your experience.

  • Reflect your expertise

In your academic and work experience sections, highlight relevant projects or achievements you undertook at a specific academic institution or prior job. Use actions verbs to condense sentences and create a lasting impact on your resume. The University of Miami has a great list and examples you can work with here.‌

5. Begin applying

Once you've ensured that your resume is well-organized, includes essential information, and showcases the best of your skills, you are ready to begin applying for accounting analyst jobs. Job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor are always good places to start your search. But, you can also consider more specialized sites like Accounting.com or iHireAccounting.com. You can filter searches by the "accounting analyst" title and start submitting applications to the jobs that best appeal to you.‌

Accounting Analyst Salary

Payscale lists the median salary of an accounting analyst at $59,000 per year. According to Zip Recruiter, accounting analysts with advanced experience, such as a senior accounting analyst, can earn up to $88,000 per year. Typically, individuals who earn this amount will also have an advanced level of education, certificates, and qualifications.

Accounting Analyst Job Description

The responsibilities of an account analyst are as follows:

  • Work with accounting team members in analyzing financial data
  • Use mathematical skills to calculate irregularities in tax audits, cash flow, payroll, expenses, and profits
  • Organize and maintain complex financial statements
  • Offer recommendations and provide guidance to financial decision-makers amid market trends
  • Present timely financial reports on a quarterly basis‌

The core of these job responsibilities rests on essential accounting principles and a deep awareness of a company's goals and mission. After all, an accounting analyst's job is to ensure that a company is at its best financially.

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