Organized Bookkeeping

What makes a good Accountant?

I’ve worked in the accounting profession for over 20 years.  I’ve seen quite a few people on their first day of work as an accountant.  Most of them have been helpful, willing to learn and a bit surprised at the real work.  I’ve also trained hundreds of people on how to use QuickBooks and other accounting software programs.  Usually, about an hour in, people will ask:  Am I any good at this?

Here are some hallmarks of someone who is going to be good at accounting:

  • They are good at algebra.

Now, I know that you might not think junior high math is going to determine your ability to do accounting.  But remember accounting is one giant story problem.  You might not need to figure how when and where the trains meet on the track; but you will need to figure out that if you sell an asset for this, the accumulated depreciation is this and you got zeta cash, then what is your gain or loss.  Solving for x is pretty common in accounting and bookkeeping.

Examples:  Bank Recs, Amortization Tables, Journal Entries, Year End Reviews, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.

  • They know how a computer software program works.

The newbies who don’t have any idea that you can open an excel file and resave it under a new name to create a copy, are a day late and a dollar short.  In every profession, there are basic levels of understanding that you need to comprehend.  If copying and pasting beyond your skill level, you are going to be stuck at lower levels.  Kick it up a notch if you are personally offended by this statement. 🙂

Examples:  Are your Excel Spreadsheets formatted?  Are you able to fill out basic company information without wondering what goes in the ‘Company Name’ box?

  • They understand that Paper Clips are to be coded to Office Supplies.

Assigning purchases to general ledger accounts is part of the job expectations.  If you have to consult your supervisor every five minutes; I have some bad news about your employment review.  Asking questions is great, but you need to be able to take abstract concepts and apply them to actual work.

Examples:  I’ve literally been asked I bought this Newspaper Ad to advertise, where is it posted.  *big sigh*

  • Memory

You need a great memory.  It’s okay if you forgot where you put your keys.  But if you repeatedly ask the same questions day in and day out.  It’s a problem.  Just think if you had to tell someone every day where the restroom is.  Even if the door was plainly labeled in the hallway.  Every day.

I probably sound a bit hash and unforgiving at this point.  But the reality is if you don’t remember details, it’s going to hard to do advanced work.  If you can’t remember the basics, it’s unlikely that you are going to get that big promotion.