Top Skills and Certifications for Accountant Jobs

A series of red arrows, one of which says "Job Skills"

Today's accountant jobs require much more than crunching numbers. Accounting professionals these days are being asked to share their expertise to help companies reach all of their goals, not just financial ones.

So it follows that the qualifications for accountant jobs have changed, too. Here's a rundown of the accounting skills and certifications currently in high demand:

Helpful skills to possess

Beyond traditional accounting knowledge, candidates for accountant jobs these days are also expected to display certain traits, such as:

  • Business acumen. Unprecedented amounts of data are available to companies now, and finance teams are being asked to analyze it and use the results to help executives make strategic recommendations about managing costs, the workflow and the workforce. Companies actively seek candidates with a broader view of the organization.
  • Technical abilities. Firms are employing more sophisticated information technology (IT) and analytical tools, and they need people who can use these tools effectively. Many accountant jobs require advanced Excel skills, and accountants who have experience with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems will find themselves in demand. In addition, many companies use cloud computing solutions, and they need people who can store and retrieve financial data in the cloud to fill accounting jobs. This practice also brings up privacy and security concerns; the most valued accounting staff have a proven ability to work with IT staff on these issues.
  • Communication skills. Accounting professionals are collaborating more than ever across departments, and successful candidates for accountant jobs display strong soft skills, particularly with regard to verbal and written communications. Businesses expect their accounting teams to be able to explain complex topics in a way that anyone can understand.

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The most important credentials

Employers looking to fill accountant jobs continue to show a preference for candidates who have applicable certifications. Credentials can help professionals get accounting jobs and advance through the ranks. Here are some of the more in-demand certifications:

  • The certified public accountant (CPA) credential is still the most important certification for any accounting job, whether it's in audit, compliance, tax, IT or risk management. A CPA is essentially a must-have for accountants who want to move beyond an entry-level position.
  • Depending on your area of focus, you may be interesting in, an accounting professional might consider a more specialized credential, such as certified information systems auditor (CISA), certified internal auditor (CIA), certified management accountant (CMA), chartered financial analyst (CFA), chartered global management accountant (CGMA) or project management professional (PMP).
  • Companies seeking payroll employees often look for candidates with certified payroll professional (CPP) or fundamental payroll certification (FPC) credentials.
  • A master's in business administration (MBA) is often a requirement for senior-level corporate accounting jobs.

The world has changed for accounting professionals, and it's for the better. Firms may be looking for more skills and traits from the people they hire for accountant jobs, but the result is more interesting work and a more varied range of experiences.

Get more information on working with Robert Half Finance and Accounting to ensure your job search is a successful one.

Additional resources on in-demand skills and certifications