How to become an accountant
Begin your accounting career
- Complete a Bachelor of Accounting or relevant undergraduate degree in finance, economics or business. If you already have a degree in another discipline, you can study a relevant postgraduate degree instead, like a Master of Professional Accounting.
- Apply to join one of the three professional accounting bodies: Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), CPA Australia or the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA). Take part in an accreditation program if you’d like to become a certified practicing accountant (CPA) or a chartered accountant (CA).
- Complete the minimum amount of mentored practical experience you need to fulfill your program’s requirements.
- Complete regular professional development courses to stay up to date on accounting best practices. Comply with your industry body’s code of conduct in your day-to-day duties.
What does an accountant do?
Once you’ve completed your accountant certification, you’ll be ready to help individuals and businesses manage their finances.
Your daily duties will vary depending on the type of accounting you get into and the size of your organisation. Qualified accountants typically analyse and report on financial trends, while also managing financial matters like profit and loss statements, cash flow, taxation and invoicing. They also give advice on legal compliance and ensure businesses remain financially healthy.
Duties and tasks
Here are some of the day-to-day duties and tasks you can expect to carry out as an accountant:
- Regularly analyse (and report on) an individual or company’s financial situation
- Prepare budgets and budget forecasts
- Manage cash flow and cash flow forecasts
- Oversee and process staff payroll requirements
- Conduct audits and financial investigations
- Establish bank accounts, funds and trusts
- Ensure organisations are complying with financial policies and regulations
- Provide advice on business plans, structures and accounting systems
CPA Australia is one of the world’s largest accounting bodies. Join if you’d like to earn your certified practicing accountant (CPA) certification, which is an internationally recognised postgraduate qualification. As part of your membership, you’ll need to comply with a strict code of conduct and complete 20 hours of continued professional development a year.
Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
Apply to join CA ANZ if you’d like to become a chartered accountant (CA). You’ll be required to complete a minimum of six years’ training, and adhere to a code of ethics and CA professional standards. You’ll also need to complete at least 15 hours of continuing professional development each year.
Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
IPA is dedicated to improving standards for small businesses in Australia, and as such, the majority of members are small business accountants. To join, you must complete the IPA program, an accredited postgraduate path of study created in collaboration with Deakin University. Members are also required to complete at least 20 hours of continuing professional development every year.
Once you’re a fully-fledged accountant, there are a number of accounting-related roles you can consider. Here are some positions you might be interested in:
- Business analyst
- Business development manager
- Budget analyst
- Chartered accountant
- Compliance officer
- CPA accountant
- Credit analyst
- Chief financial officer
- Data analyst
- Financial advisor
- Financial analyst
- Forensic accountant
- Management consultant
- Mortgage advisor
- Payroll clerk
- Payroll manager
- Procurement manager
- Tax accountant
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