Inside Accounting Manager Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"How Small Things Can Influence Big Changes...
It surprises me what the data can tell you. In an industry where there is a lot of competition the slimmest of margins make a big difference. So its important to see how items are connected and how they can influence the outcomes in different scenarios." (Finance; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Idaho, male
School: Studied Finance at Isu in Idaho; completed Bachelor degree in 1995

"Basic Banking Skills Required For Even Low Level Accounting Jobs...
I was surprised by the numbers of people I worked with who had Masters Degrees in Accounting and could not balance a checkbook. I believe that should be a requirement for this profession. Accountants have a reputation for being very bookish and this is sometimes the case but is the exception to the rule." (Accounting Manager; 2013)

Career: 16 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Accounting at LaCrosse University in Louisiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"Communication Skills Are Just As Important As Analytical Skills...
Most people would believe accountants are quiet, introverted people. I am very outgoing and outspoken. Accountants are in a position where they have to communicate to the officers of a company often. Accountants need to have great oral skills as well as analytical skills." (Accountant; 2013)

Career: 21 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied Finance at East Carolina University in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 1990

"Customer Demands...
The amount of customers that don't pay their bills on time, yet still want service. The joy of getting to talk to all kinds of people from all over the country." (Accounting Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, female
School: Studied Criminal Justice at County College Of Morris in New Jersey; completed Associate degree in 2001

"It Isn't All Cubicles And Spreadsheets...
I imagined myself in a small cubicle in a giant accounting office somewhere downtown, instead I work for a small manufacturing company and work with 2 other accountants. We all share a larger office that is very comfortable. We have a good time and are all very close. It is not the lonely, long days I expected at all." (Payroll Officer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Nevada, male
School: Studied Finance at College Of Southern Nevada in Nevada; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Not As Much Math As You May Think...
There actually seems to be less numbers work than I anticipated. In school, I was working under the presumption that this would be mainly about the numbers. I don't know if my job is atypical but I don't work with as many numbers as I anticipated." (Payroll Manager; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Accounting at Olympic College in Washington; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Learn To Learn...
I was surprised at how much college really taught me how to learn how to learn more so than the content." (Finance Manager; 2014)

Career: 17 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Accounting/Business Administration at Clarkson University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 1997

"Work Experience Is More Useful Than Book Knowledge...
That the hours were not too intense. I am regularly putting in 40 hours a week." (Financial Analyst; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Finance at University Of California, Riverside in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

"Repetitive But Useful...
I was unaware of how repetitive yet enjoyable my job can be. Even though I do the same thing everyday, I enjoy using what I have learned in school and actually applying it to my career." (Stock Broker; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Business Administration at Northern Kentucky University in Kentucky; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"The one thing that surprised me most about my career is that the accounting process differs from each industry." (Controller; 2014)

Career: 19 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Accounting at Long Beach Community College in California; completed Bachelor degree in 1981

"I was very pleased to learn that I had received very good advice with respect to combining a business discipline such as Accounting with Computer Science, especially in the mid-90's when technology was literally changing the way everyone does business. While I did not enjoy pure accounting, I did enjoy learning about and helping others learn accounting systems. Having some education and expertise in both disciplines was extremely beneficial. This opened a whole new career opportunity of working with all sorts of businesses as they implemented various systems. This scenario was the most surprising aspect of my profession." (VP Of Operations For Small Software Company; 2012)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, male
School: Studied Major In Accounting; Minor In Computer Science at University Of South Alabama in Alabama; completed Bachelor degree in 1993

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Senior Client Services Director: "Best part of my job is seeing the development of my team members. I enjoy teaching others and seeing their skills improve each day/week/month. It is very satisfying. Another part that is great is being able to see growth in our client's business. Knowing we helped their company be better is very gratifying. A not so enjoyable part is when individuals don't approach their job seriously and work hard. This means that as a manager, I need to have serious conversations about their job performance. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't." (2011)

Accountant - Senior Manager: "Best part of my job is the people. I work with highly intelligent people, but the thing that sets them apart is that we see ourselves as a team. We share successes and avoid blaming each other when things go wrong. Working in the right environment that fosters growth, trust and teamwork has been the best part of my job. The worst part is the hours. As I have ascended the ladder, the responsibilities have increased and so have the hours. Many weeks I work between 50-60 hours as opposed to the normal 40." (2010)

Accounting Manager Of Small Business: "The best part of the job is that you get to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry. You work independently, so if your superior is agreeable, it is a perfect industry for raising a family as you can hammer out a flexible schedule. The worst part of the profession is the deadlines. Some weeks you will need to put in overtime to meet these deadlines and if your fiscal year follows the calendar you will not be able to take a vacation during the Christmas holidays." (2010)

Public Accountant: "The best part of my job is meeting interesting people and doing something a little different every day. For the most part the people you service and the businesses you do work for are happy to see you come and are very nice to you. One of the best things about accounting is that you can do it part-time (mother's hours) or seasonally. Since tax season runs from January to April, most accountants work like crazy 'til May, then have their summers (almost) off. Sometimes you can even work from home if you have the necessary computer software. One of the worst parts about being a tax accountant is that the rules are constantly changing. Luckily most firms will send you for training but you do need to keep up and do a lot of reading on your own. I do not care for the travel, especially in bad weather, that is sometimes required." (2010)

Career Background

Accounting Manager

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Be Flexible...
If you want to be a successful Finance Manager, you should be flexible. You should be willing to take on different roles to broaden your financial background." (Finance Manager; 2014)

"If you want to be successful in a high paying accounting job, you should finish your bachelor's degree and take the CPA exam." (Controller; 2014)

"Make Sure To Have Social Skills As Well As Job Skills...
It is important to not only have the relevant skills to do the work, but it is just as important to have the people skills to get along in the office. Make sure to work on your social skills as well as your studies. Many people are qualified to do the work, but if you are well liked, you have a leg up on the competition." (Payroll Officer; 2013)

"Making It Big In Finances...
Get experience with a big firm. Also keep relationships in good standing." (Finance; 2013)

"Start At The Bottom...
Start working as an Accounting Clerk and try to learn everything you can from your manager." (Accounting Coordinator; 2013)

"Working For A Smaller Company Helps One In The Long Run Earn More Money...
I believe people benefit most from working in a startup environment early in their career before moving into a large company. In a start up environment you have to do the grunt work and get all systems in place. It really helps you to learn your job well and understand all aspects of the profession." (Accountant; 2013)

"You MUST Like Numbers...
To be a good Accountant, one must be very exacting in their work as well as have a strong attention to detail. Accounting often requires the Accountant to be able to find a few missing pennies on financial reports or a bank reconciliation. If analysis of financial reports does not sound like your idea of a good time then I do not recommend it. I have spent the majority of my career doing both of these activities." (Accounting Manager; 2013)

"Always Keep A Look Out For Better Opportunities...
Try out different companies. Just because you found a job, doesn't mean you have to stay there." (Financial Analyst; 2013)

"Accustomed To Repetition...
Get used to do the same thing everyday. It can be redundant but enjoyable because you know what to expect." (Stock Broker; 2013)

"Computers And Co-Workers Are You're Friends...
If you want to work in accounting, than be very prepared to work with computers. A lot of the work involves computers. Also, be prepared to socialize with the higher ups, as that's a big part of the position." (Payroll Manager; 2013)

"Must Appreciate Variety Of People...
First, you must like to work with as many personality types as possible. Between team members and client contacts, there are numerous challenges to being able to work efficiently and successfully with everyone. Second, be open to change. In the online world, everything changes very frequently and so be comfortable to change. Learn how to embrace change as positive or a new challenge to overcome and not as a problem. Lastly, do everything you can to be strong analytically as this job requires a great deal of math skills so develop those skills as early as possible." (Senior Client Services Director; 2011)

"Check The Placement Record Of Your College...
1. Pick a career you will enjoy. There is nothing worse than being in a job you hate and do not feel you can get out of. And there is nothing worse than working with a person who feels that way. 2. Pick a college with a history of strong job placement in your field of choice. If you know what field you want to go into, make sure your school has a good reputation and a strong placement record in that area. 3. Make sure your written and verbal presentation skills are strong. Even as an accountant my writing ability is what set me apart the most when I first started. The amount of writing required in most fields is pretty high and being able to communicate well is a huge advantage. 4. Most jobs require some level of team work and the ability to get along with other people. Get involved in team activities so you can hone your team skills. This is extremely important in just about any field." (Accountant - Senior Manager; 2010)

"Hard Without Some Sort Of Degree...
I was very fortunate to get a higher level position without a degree. If you want to advance in the accounting business these days, though, you will probably need a bachelors degree in accounting. Being a certified public accountant will also be of great benefit. Strong communication skills are a must as well as proficiency in Excel, Word and possibly even PowerPoint. If a degree does not fit into your schedule then consider an AA degree or take a few classes at the local community college." (Accounting Manager Of Small Business; 2010)

"If You Do It, Get A CPA...
I would recommend getting some first-hand experience of what accounting really is. You need to be sure you will like the profession you have chosen. Try to get an internship position during the school year or consider going to a college which has a cooperative learning program, like Northeastern University. If you complete your accounting degree, be sure to get your certification to become a Certified Public Accountant. It will require passing a rigorous exam after college and will require getting your master's degree and working for a public accounting firm for several years. It will prove of great value to you, however, throughout your career ." (Public Accountant; 2010)