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Myth vs. Reality: What Is It Really Like Being an Accountant?

There are stereotypes about each line of work. They range from doctors being highly paid Gods who have the power to heal everyone they touch to computer scientists who sit in front of screens of binary codes all day hacking away or even lawyers who are always engrossed in intense courtroom debates like a scene from How To Get Away With Murder.

These stereotypes might only have a sliver of truth to them, but for the most part, they are highly exaggerated. Similarly, when one hears of an accountant, the image that might come to mind is that of a sad-looking man, with bloodshot eyes, hunched over some documents and a calculator in his work cubicle that is illuminated by a single light bulb.

The media also plays a part in furthering this depiction in shows such as The Office. However, we’re here to clear up all the misjudgments and bust some myths. We’ve talked to some accountants and come up with a list of myths about accountancy that just aren’t true. 

1. Accountants must be a Math Prodigy

Accounting intimidates most people because they have misconceptions about the amount of mathematics involved in it. Vice versa, some individuals might only choose accounting as a career path because of their love for maths. Despite this narrative, of all the requirements to be an accountant, being a maths whizz is the most overstated and perhaps the least important.

Having the ability to understand and work with numbers and numerical data is essential. But apart from basic addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication, no other complicated formulas are required for calculations involved in taxes or financial statements.

Other skills needed to be an accountant that are more sought after including analytical and problem-solving skills, written and verbal communication, critical thinking, time management, deductive reasoning, and active learning.

2. Accountants are boring and have no lives outside of work

Like most jobs, 9-5 accounting occupations tend to become boring from time to time, but that certainly does not mean that it is generally redundant. Some of the most popular and adventurous celebrities are accountants or have degrees in accounting, such as singers Janet Jackson, Mick Jagger and Robert Plant, comedian Eddie Izzard, best-selling author John Grisham, and tennis player Venus Williams.

Accountancy is the ultimate portable qualification; therefore, most people choose this field because they are adventurous and want to move abroad. Moreover, this field requires interactions and communication with many other people, such as clients or possible business partners; therefore, it is not true that accountants are introverts. Accountancy firms host a plethora of people with different interests and backgrounds, just like any other workplace.

3. Calculating taxes is an accountant’s only job

Though most accountants are required to calculate taxes and maximize profits, different fields exist within accounting in which people are responsible for overseeing different domains. For example, a Certified Public Accountant helps clients meet their financial goals and provides assistance in fiscal matters.

Forensic accountants analyze financial records and statements to ensure they comply with the law, whereas auditors ensure that records are precise and improve them if they are not. Furthermore, management accountants are in charge of finding the status of an organization’s financial health and how the implementation of certain business strategies will affect it.

Even the government hires accountants to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. The aforementioned are just some of the tasks that accountants are entrusted with. There are countless other types of jobs that accountants are responsible for. 

4. Accountancy is a male-dominated profession

There has been an age-long myth that supposedly men are better at math than women. Not only is this myth overtly sexist, but it has also been proved false many times by many scientific studies. From such myths, however, stems the misconception that men are not only better at fields such as accounting, but they also dominate the jobs at accountancy firms.

This is simply untrue. According to a study published in Catalyst, 61.7% of all auditors and accountants in the United States are women. Not only this, but more than 50% of accounting positions are held by women in the European Union, Finland, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. 

5. Accountants have to sit at a desk all-day

An accountancy job entails more than just sitting at a desk all day crunching numbers. A lot of collaboration is required between accountants and clients; therefore, there is a lot of traveling and many meetings.

Travelling might not just be from one office to another but also inter-state or out of the country. Accountants also need to be good communicators to clients. Not everyone understands technical financial terms, so it is their job to put work into layman’s terms for all to understand.

Additionally, accountants are required to communicate with their peers as well. Many accountant vloggers post their day-to-day lives on YouTube, like Brandon Lord. Their jobs are exciting, and almost every day is a new day. 

6. Accountants are frugal 

It is natural to think that accountants are frugal with their money because their main job is to minimize taxes and maximize profits; however, most individuals are aware of differentiating between their work and personal life. Being frugal is more of a personal choice, irrespective of the profession one belongs to.

Moreover, it is sensible to be aware of how one spends their money depending on the circumstances surrounding them. Due to the nature of their job, accountants are well aware of how to get the most out of the system they operate in, and that is not necessarily a bad thing and does not classify as frugality. 

Conclusion:

Many of the narratives that have been associated with having a job in accounting are made up. An accounting job is not only intellectually challenging but also exciting.

Like most other professions, it allows people to gain tremendous experience and learn without limits. It is far from redundant, and once one dives in deep, one will realize just how vast the field is. 

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