Accountant job description

What does an Accountant do?

Accountants analyse, evaluate and report on financial matters for organisations, businesses and individuals. This includes providing advice on the financial health of their clients or employers by examining data such as profit and loss statements, budgets and automated financial systems.

Within an organisation, an Accountant may be involved in making key business decisions as part of a strategic team. Accountants working with individuals may be required to prepare financial statements and lodge tax returns.

As an Accountant, it will be compulsory for you to be familiar with Australian taxation law in order to ensure legal compliance in business transactions.

Career opportunities and fields of specialisation for Accountants include roles such as:

  • Tax Accountant
  • Financial Accountant
  • Management Accountant
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Finance Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Cost Accountant

A day in the life of an Accountant

Daily tasks for an Accountant

An Accountant’s day-to-day tasks can vary depending on their area of specialisation or place of employment. Some of the typical daily tasks for an Accountant may include:

  • Analysing the revenue and expenditure of a business.
  • Conducting financial investigations and audits, and preparing reports.
  • Reporting to managers, directors or shareholders about the financial health of a business.
  • Providing advice to businesses on taxation, mergers, purchases, insolvency and financing.
  • Developing budget and accounting policies.
  • Liaising with external auditors.
  • Preparing profit and loss statements, monthly closing and cost accounting reports.
  • Resolving accounting discrepancies.

To learn about the skills, traits and qualifications you’ll need as an Accountant, read our tips on how to become an Accountant.

Working hours of an Accountant

Accountants usually work during weekday business hours in an office environment. However, during busy periods, such as the end of the financial year, an Accountant may be expected to work increased hours including evenings and weekends in order to complete a higher volume of work and meet deadlines.

What is the difference between a CA (Chartered Accountant) and a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant)?

A CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) is the professional title for members of CPA Australia. 

CA (Chartered Accountant) is an internationally-recognised professional designation for members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA).

ICA and CPA Australia are two of the largest accounting bodies in Australia, and both require their members to undergo continued professional development. Both CAs and CPAs work across commercial and public accounting.

Most medium to large accounting firms require an Accountant to be a CA, as the content of this program is more tailored towards working in an accounting firm environment.

The CPA program may be appropriate for those working in the accounting industry outside of a firm, or in small to medium sized accounting firms.