10 Common Accounting Misconceptions

10 Common Accounting Misconceptions

10 Common Accounting Misconceptions banner

Are you looking for a fast-paced and lucrative career path, one that you can grow with over the course of your career? Does spending your days working closely with a variety of clients and fellow professionals to solve challenging, yet exciting problems sound appealing? If so, then a career in accounting might be the right choice for you.

If you’ve never thought of adjectives such as fast-paced or exciting in relation to accounting, it’s time to change your mindset. A career in accounting can be far more interesting and versatile than you could possibly imagine.

Over the years, the field of accounting has been unfairly maligned as a complex, narrow and even boring career path. It’s difficult to determine the origins of this problematic perception, but it may result from the sheer competence of today’s accountants. These professionals are so efficient at tackling new challenges, most people never realize all that goes into their day-to-day efforts.

We think it’s time to give accounting the attention and respect it deserves. We’re here to bring light to the best of the profession as we clear up unfair misconceptions about accounting. Keep reading to learn why the following fallacies are untrue and deserve to be debunked:

1. ACCOUNTANTS EXCLUSIVELY DEAL WITH TAXES

When most people picture accountants, they think of tax season and the knowledgeable individuals who help them get through the stressful ordeal of filing their returns every year. While preparing tax returns and advising clients on how they can take advantage of deductions and other tax laws, tax-related work is by no means the only opportunity for accountants.

In addition to helping individuals and businesses with tax-related concerns, accountants may take on the following job duties:

  • Preparing financial statements
  • Maintaining payroll records
  • Completing account reconciliations
  • Drafting and collecting invoices
  • Examining expenses while conducting profitability analyses
  • Ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations
  • Developing financial strategies for investment firms
  • Supervising clerical workers
  • Advising clients on estate planning and wealth management

Intriguing niches abound throughout the field of accounting. From health care to IT and everything in between, this diverse profession makes it possible to play an important role in almost any industry imaginable.

Of course, if you still want to assist clients with tax preparation, that is certainly an option—but it’s just one of many duties you’ll perform once you’ve earned your accounting degree.

2. ACCOUNTANTS ARE NATURAL MATH WHIZZES

Contrary to popular belief, accounting and math are not the same thing. While math proficiency is certainly helpful in accountancy, it is by no means required to succeed in this field. In fact, some of the most inspiring accountants struggled with math as high school or college students.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting doesn’t involve endless math classes. Rather, it features applied courses that help aspiring accountants gain the specific skills they’ll need when they enter the labor market. As Professor David Cartwright puts it, “The level of math required in accounting is shockingly simple: add, subtract, multiply and divide.”

3. ACCOUNTING IS BORING

The above misconception about math often plays into the widespread assumption that accounting—and accountants—are boring. The truth is that the accounting field is full of interesting analytics that drive impactful decision-making. What’s more, modern accountants often incorporate cutting-edge technology into their work. Artificial intelligence and blockchain, for example, play a crucial role in many of today’s most influential accounting positions. These tools and solutions make an already intriguing profession that much more enticing to tech-oriented individuals.

If the increasing role of technology is any indication, the field of accountancy is always changing. This evolution presents numerous challenges, but it also keeps professionals on their toes. Many thrive on the field’s rapid pace of change, which ensures that no two days on the job look exactly alike. Further excitement can be found within increasingly common consulting roles, which allow accountants to serve a variety of companies while delving into niche areas of interest.

4. ONLY INTROVERTS ENJOY ACCOUNTING

The field of accounting can be a haven for introverts, many of whom prefer to avoid the small talk and meetings that pervade other professions. That being said, there is a definite place for extroverts in accounting. After all, data gathered and analyzed through accounting processes must eventually be conveyed to others.

Accountants enjoy numerous opportunities for meaningful interactions with clients, fellow professionals, or even IRS representatives. Those involved in tax preparation, for example, converse extensively with clients to get a better sense of their income, assets, and other essentials. At the corporate level, accountants provide feedback for organizations looking to maintain full compliance while keeping tax liabilities to a minimum.

5. OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT ARE RARE

While many people correctly assume that accounting jobs pay well, they also believe that professionals stick to a single position without ever moving up the career ladder. While it’s possible to do exactly that and still see significant income boosts, there are also plenty of leadership opportunities. This is especially true among accountants working for large corporations. Those employed by investment firms, for example, often rise through the ranks to take on highly paid supervisory roles.

6. ACCOUNTING IS A MALE-DOMINATED PROFESSION

While this may have been true in the 1950s, today there are more women accountants and auditors than men. Nearly two-thirds of accountants in the United States–62 percent–are women, and 50 percent of the full-time staff at CPA firms are women. Between 1983 and 2012, the number of female accountants grew from 39 to 60 percent.

One of the reasons so many women have chosen accounting as a career is the flexibility it offers. Women with an accounting degree can choose a fast-track career, with the aim of being a partner at an accounting firm one day, or they can choose a flexible schedule that allows them to balance work with the demands of a family.

7. TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE THE PROFESSION OBSOLETE

As we mentioned above, technology is increasingly important in accounting. However, that doesn’t mean that technology is going to supersede the profession anytime soon. These great tools still need someone to interpret the information they collect and process.

By handling many of the routine, mundane tasks that used to occupy a majority of an accountant’s time, technology has freed accountants to be more proactive and to get out in the field. Many accountants now offer consulting services to help clients minimize their tax liability and do things like create a smooth transition of a family business.

8. ACCOUNTANTS DON’T NEED TO BE CREATIVE

Accountants have an undeserved reputation for being boring and not very creative. Nothing could be further from the truth. While creative bookkeeping may not be ethical, being creative is beneficial for things like finding tax deductions and structuring a client’s financial portfolio.

If you decide to form your own accounting business, you’ll need to be creative in your marketing, in your social media interactions, and in how you build your business brand. For any accountant, it takes creativity to envision what their clients’ accounting needs are likely to be in five years, ten years, and beyond.

9. ACCOUNTANTS WORK LONG HOURS

Not all accountants work long hours. In fact, most work regular office hours. Those who do work long hours are generally those establishing their own businesses and, like most new business owners, are investing a large amount of their time and energy into the venture.

One of the great things about a career in accounting is the many shapes your career can take. You can make good money while working part-time and raising a family and then transition to a full-time position once your kids are in school. Accountants might travel regularly as auditors or work 9-to-5 in an office setting. They might work for a large firm or for a small, family-run business.

10. ACCOUNTANTS AREN’T BUSINESS LEADERS

This myth may have gotten started because accountants tend not to be as flashy as salesmen, trial lawyers and politicians. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be good leaders in their own way. Accountants are professional people who have earned the trust of their clients and who handle sometimes extremely complex financial documents. Many are also small (or large) business owners.

If you look closely, you’ll see plenty of accountants serving in church leadership, in scouting, in organizations like the Rotary Club, and in local charities. They just don’t tend to advertise their services as much.

THE BOTTOM LINE: ACCOUNTING CAN BE A SATISFYING AND FULFILLING CAREER.

The field of accounting deserves far more praise than it typically receives. Thankfully, public opinion about this profession is beginning to change, especially as blockchain and other exciting concepts gain prominence. Hence, accounting’s esteemed position among the U.S. News and World Report list of Best Business Jobs.

Now that you’ve discovered the secrets behind one of today’s most opportunity-filled fields, you can move forward with the training needed to make your mark in the profession of accounting. An online accounting degree could be all that stands between you and your dream career.

If you’re interested in pursuing the field of accounting, earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting, your MBA in accounting, or your micro-certificate in accounting from JWU. For more information on our online accounting degree, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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