What Does a CPA Do?

Jobs in finance are growing. Collectively, 16 occupations like bookkeepers and financial analysts have added over 430,000 new jobs since 2011, shooting from 5.3 million to 5.7 million. That’s 8% growth—in other words, eye-catching! The pay is compelling too. With median salaries from $35K to $120K, financial careers are presenting bright opportunities for budget-lovers owning strong math and analytical skills.

finance-jobs-growth-2011-2016
The growth of financial careers 2011-2016. Source: Emsi.

Let’s take a closer look at one of these occupations: certified public accountant. We sat down with Mark, the senior wealth preservation advisor and co-founder of a CPA firm, to discover more about his job and the journey he took to get there.

Mark, how did you reach your current role? What education and/or experience did you need?

My formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in business/accounting, and a master’s in business taxation. More important, my work experience and continued professional education allowed me to achieve my current status. Prior to co-founding the firm, I was also a partner/principal with two national CPA firms.

What specific skills are required for the job?

Required skills include:

  • expertise in area of practice
  • understanding your client’s business or personal situation/financial needs
  • ability to analyze complex client issues and provide alternate solutions
  • ability to explain and deliver those solutions to clients
  • good judgment
  • practicality
  • conscientiousness
  • ability to remain calm
  • people skills
  • listening, writing, speaking

What is a typical work day for you?

pexels-photo-70292A typical work day usually ends up different than expected. That is because an advisory role requires you to respond to client needs, and a single phone call or email can change the course of the day. However, a “typical” day will included reviewing and responding to emails and messages, reviewing the status of ongoing projects, supervising and mentoring staff, never-ending learning, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

What do you love most about your job?

The interaction with clients and co-workers, and the fact that each day brings something new.

What advice would you give someone interested in this occupation?

The best advice I’d give is this: Gain as much varied job experiences in as many different industries as possible. Even though I am a tax and business advisor, I sought experience in basic accounting and was even a staff auditor. Also, no matter what area of accounting or consulting you’re in, it is critical to learn as much about your client’s business or personal situation as possible. Lastly, I have the following adage: “Treat your client’s business as if it was your own.”

Interested in becoming an accountant? See if you’d do well in accounting by taking the Discovery Questionnaire on Find Your Calling. Follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Sign up here for the monthly newsletter. Contact gwen@findyourcalling.com

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