Master these skills for a successful career in accounting

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Over the course of an accounting bachelor’s degree program, students learn about accounting principles, economics, taxation, business and more. This knowledge goes a long way in securing a job after graduation. However, firms are looking for more than just technical skills.

Accountants today should have a strong set of soft skills in order to be successful. Students and graduates of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program can turn to resources like Career & Professional Development Services and networking opportunities offered through the online program to build these skills. Additionally, coursework that puts a focus on entrepreneurialism and leadership further boosts students’ abilities to develop them. Students should seek out opportunities to boost the following soft skills to improve their career trajectories:

Accounting Manager writing on white board


Professionals who take the lead when needed, discover and share new insights and motivate a team are ideal candidates for advancement. Accounting firms recruit candidates who will be ready to be promoted to a senior role when the time is right, human resources consulting firm, Robert Half, pointed out.

Leadership and other soft skills, like good communication skills, allow accountants to offer helpful insight for businesses.

To boost your leadership skills, you have to learn by doing. Begin by taking on new projects, whether they’re in your professional or personal life. At work, you can volunteer to lead a new client project, while in your personal life, you can join a community organization. Monster pointed out that good leaders know when to delegate tasks, how to listen to advice from other team members and how to build enthusiasm within the group.

Information technology knowledge

The world of accounting is becoming increasingly more tech-centric. You’ll more than likely need to use cloud computing and a series of software packages, like QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel and enterprise resource planning programs, throughout your accounting career. Having a sound knowledge base of these or similar programs, as well as a general understanding of computers and software, will be essential.

Students who participate in an Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program are particularly well-poised to bolster this soft skill. Since most of your coursework will be done on the computer, require some understanding of cloud computing, certain types of software and a general knowledge of how to use new programs, getting the hang of the technology in your accounting firm shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.

Communication skills

Numbers, spreadsheets and reports are only one side of being an accountant. You’ll also need to explain what all that information means to your clients and to other departments within your company. You’ll use a combination of emails, phone calls and in-person meetings to communicate with others.

Because of this, communication skills are highly important in many accounting positions. The information you’re tasked with explaining isn’t intuitive to everyone, and it will take a skilled communicator to make the contents clear.

Not all the information you need to give out will be good news. There may come a time when you must explain a negative financial situation to your client or company. This isn’t an easy situation, and it’s important to deliver the message clearly and calmly. You’ll also need to be prepared to answer any questions they have regarding the situation. All of this is a part of being a good communicator.

A survey conducted by staffing firm Accountemps found that 30 percent of CFO respondents said that poor interpersonal skills were the most common reason employees weren’t advancing in their careers. However, less than 20 percent said they planned on investing in resources to help workers’ interpersonal skills.

Developing this soft skill takes time and effort, but it is possible to hone your ability to communicate effectively and work with other team mates. Exploring professional groups and associations is one popular method, Robert Half explained. Attend meetings, strike up conversations and meet new people.

Customer service

As an accountant, you may work directly with your clients. Maintaining relationships and bringing on new customers may be some of your top priorities. Excellent customer service skills are essential for both of these tasks. Asking clients questions that show your dedication and that you’re truly listening to the answers goes a long way in building a strong and trusting relationship.

Good customer service skills go beyond your actual clients, Robert Half pointed out. In your accounting firm, you’ll need to communicate with other teams and managers throughout the company. Someone who excels at customer service can also do well in making sure other departments are happy with each other and have all the information they need to be successful.

Customer service skills comprise more than just effective communication and a desire to help out. You should also have patience, be able to stay calm in stressful situations and know how to use positive language when communicating, Help Scout pointed out.

Managing stress in crisis situations when working with other departments can be a challenge for finance professionals. By developing customer service skills like patience, accountants can overcome this obstacle.

Business acumen

Accounting is the language of business – you probably heard that more than once during your accounting coursework.

This phrase is frequently used for a reason: It’s the truth. To be a good accountant, you should have some general knowledge of business. In the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online Bachelor of Accounting program, students will take several business courses to broaden their knowledge base. Classes like Business Foundations and the Legal Environment of Business will be particularly useful to future accounting roles. In these courses, students will learn about the different roles of business around the world and about important business concepts like contracts, bankruptcy and ethical reasoning.

University of Alabama at Birmingham helps boost soft skills

Students who complete the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program can receive an in-depth education about the world of accounting while also developing important soft skills that can help them succeed in their future careers.

To learn more about the accounting program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, get in touch with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
Bachelor of Science in Accounting curriculum: What you may learn at UAB
Career outcomes with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree