What do I need to get there?
Numeracy skills are a great start, but they’re not everything. As an accountant you’ll spend as much time explaining numbers as you will crunching them, so good communication skills are vital. The information you provide -often to bemused managers- will affect decisions made at the highest levels, so
there’s a good deal of responsibility. However, not everyone understands finance, so you must have great reporting skills and be crystal clear in your explanation of complex data. Also, since talking money isn’t always good news, so you will find that good interpersonal skills are handy, as well as a good degree of professionalism.
Accountants usually travel in packs, so all these communication skills go hand in hand with teamwork. Accountants are often deployed to find a fault, or trace missing money, so good problem solving skills will be an asset. On top of this, a good degree of business and corporate awareness is also important. You have to be up to date on the law and be aware of current changes in finance legislation.
Finally, you won’t need a degree in a mathematical subject to be an accountant. However, like law, accountancy is a charted profession, and it’s mandatory to have passed a qualification exam before you can practice. Having a degree may earn you exception from parts of these exams. You can either do this independently, through one of the major chartered institutes, or by finding a placement in a practicing company who will sponsor your qualification. Once qualified, there’s lots of training involved throughout your whole career, so you need to be motivated to go on and committed to succeed.
Graduates can expect a £20,000 starting salary, rising to £30,000 once qualified.