Accountants provide accounting services to organisations and individuals, generally relating to taxation and financial dealings. 

The average salary of an Accountant is $69,429 per annum.

As an Accountant, you'll also advise on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.

Read more about a career as a Financial Accountant.

Salary range
Average salary $69,429
salary range
Source: SEEK
Projected job growth
17% by 2020
Employment by region
The top three regions for employment as an Accountant are:
NSW 38%
VIC 26.6%
QLD 17.5%

A day in the life of an Accountant

Key skills required

The top skills for an Accountant are:
  • Good communication skills
  • Good presentation skills
  • Able to build rapport with clients
  • Able to analyse and solve problems
  • Good organisational skills
  • Discretion while dealing with confidential information
  • Professional and ethical
  • Able to work as part of a team
Career pathway planner
Starting out
Starting out

Break into the accounting world and learn the basic skills you’ll need to prepare for roles such as Financial Clerk or Bookkeeper.

Get into the numbers game and familiarise yourself with budgets, BAS statements, tax returns and accounting systems.

  • Certificate III in Accounts Administration (FNS30315)
  • Certificate IV in Accounting (FNS40615)
  • Diploma of Accounting (FNS50215)
Moving up in the industry
Moving up in the industry

If you’re already working in the finance industry and want to broaden your career options, an Advanced Diploma or Bachelor degree is for you.

Develop your knowledge of accounting principles and equip yourself with the skills to take on further responsibility in an accounting role.

  • Advanced Diploma of Accounting (FNS60215)
  • Bachelor of Business With a Major in Accounting
  • Master of Professional Accounting

Accountant job description

What does an Accountant do?

Accountants analyse, evaluate and report on financial matters for organisations, businesses and individuals. This includes providing advice on the financial health of their clients or employers by examining data such as profit and loss statements, budgets and automated financial systems.

Within an organisation, an Accountant may be involved in making key business decisions as part of a strategic team. Accountants working with individuals may be required to prepare financial statements and lodge tax returns.

As an Accountant, it will be compulsory for you to be familiar with Australian taxation law in order to ensure legal compliance in business transactions.

Career opportunities and fields of specialisation for Accountants include roles such as:

  • Tax Accountant
  • Financial Accountant
  • Management Accountant
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Finance Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Cost Accountant

A day in the life of an Accountant

Daily tasks for an Accountant

An Accountant’s day-to-day tasks can vary depending on their area of specialisation or place of employment. Some of the typical daily tasks for an Accountant may include:

  • Analysing the revenue and expenditure of a business.
  • Conducting financial investigations and audits, and preparing reports.
  • Reporting to managers, directors or shareholders about the financial health of a business.
  • Providing advice to businesses on taxation, mergers, purchases, insolvency and financing.
  • Developing budget and accounting policies.
  • Liaising with external auditors.
  • Preparing profit and loss statements, monthly closing and cost accounting reports.
  • Resolving accounting discrepancies.

To learn about the skills, traits and qualifications you’ll need as an Accountant, read our tips on how to become an Accountant.

Working hours of an Accountant

Accountants usually work during weekday business hours in an office environment. However, during busy periods, such as the end of the financial year, an Accountant may be expected to work increased hours including evenings and weekends in order to complete a higher volume of work and meet deadlines.

What is the difference between a CA (Chartered Accountant) and a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant)?

A CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) is the professional title for members of CPA Australia. 

CA (Chartered Accountant) is an internationally-recognised professional designation for members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA).

ICA and CPA Australia are two of the largest accounting bodies in Australia, and both require their members to undergo continued professional development. Both CAs and CPAs work across commercial and public accounting.

Most medium to large accounting firms require an Accountant to be a CA, as the content of this program is more tailored towards working in an accounting firm environment.

The CPA program may be appropriate for those working in the accounting industry outside of a firm, or in small to medium sized accounting firms. 

How to become an Accountant

Accounting is one of Australia’s fastest-growing occupations, but there’s definitely a lot more to being an Accountant than knowing your way around a calculator. In order to work as an Accountant in Australia, there is a certain level of experience and study you’ll need to become qualified and nationally recognised.

As an Accountant, you'll provide accounting services to organisations and individuals, generally relating to taxation and financial dealings and advising on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements. Read more about the job description of an Accountant.

What technical & professional skills do I need to become an Accountant?

The professional skills necessary to work as an Accountant will depend on the area you choose to work in, however most roles will prefer you to have experience using accounting software and spreadsheets.

There are also strict requirements when it comes to accounting code of practice.

Australia’s accounting industry is regulated and accredited by three professional accounting bodies - the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), CPA Australia (CPA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA).

Dr Tony Whitefield, Director of Swinburne Online’s Business & Accounting Programs, explains that in order to be eligible for entry into any of the three professional bodies you will need to hold a tertiary qualification. 

The minimum qualification for entry into CPA and ICAA is a Bachelor degree in Accounting, such as a Bachelor of Business With a Major in Accounting. The IPA requires at least a Diploma or Advanced Diploma of Accounting.

“Without a tertiary qualification you may be able to work in accounting, but will not be qualified to produce financial reports  as any financial reporting requires sign off by an Accountant accredited by one of the three professional bodies,” adds Dr Whitefield.

Employers also highly regard accounting graduates (or those with little experience) who have entered into a CA or CPA program, or expressed a desire to. Read more about the difference between a CPA and a CA.

I’m just starting out. What’s my first step?

If you haven’t studied for a while or don’t feel ready to commit to a Bachelor degree, there are many career paths you can take in accounting that only require a certificate or diploma to get your foot in the door.

Those with little to no experience in the industry can gain exposure to light bookkeeping responsibilities, accounts payable, and payroll processing with the below courses:

  • Certificate III in Accounts Administration (FNS30315)
  • Certificate IV in Accounting (FNS40615)

These certificates will equip you with the skills necessary to work as Payroll Clerk or Accounts Payable Clerk, and give you the foundation to work your way up to an Accountant role with regular professional development. 

Should I become an Accountant?

To be a successful Accountant, you will need to have:

  • an aptitude for working with numbers
  • a strategic mind
  • excellent organisational skills
  • an eye for detail
  • a strong sense of ethics

“You need to be good at solving problems, as well as knowing how to deal with confidential information that comes your way,” SEEK Learning Consultant Andy McDonnell explains. “Being able to communicate and work with a range of clients is also important, so good communication skills are a must.”

As Australia’s second biggest industry, it’s not just young starters who are finding their feet as Accountants. Andy says he speaks with many people over 35 who have been in the same industry since leaving school but who are keen to start something new.  

With 21,000 new accounting jobs projected to be advertised in 2017, it’s an industry with enormous opportunity too.