Accounting: Job Description, Resume, Cover Letter, Skills

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The job outlook for accountants is strong, and the earnings are well above the median. Accounting refers to managing or inspecting someone’s financial records. There are many jobs that involve accounting, including accountant, auditor, comptroller, bookkeeper, accounting clerk, and more. All of these positions require a core group of similar skills.

Accountant Job Description

Accountants collect, organize and track financial information for organizations.

They prepare financial reports regarding revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities for internal use by staff and to meet requirements by the government, shareholders and other external entities. 

 Accountants conduct audits to determine if client organizations or their own employer is following established legal practices and company policies for financial transactions and record keeping. They prepare reports with their findings and recommend remedies to resolve problems and reduce the risk of law suits and financial losses due to staff errors or criminal activity.

Accountants prepare tax returns to minimize tax liabilities and ensure that income is reported according to the IRS code. They advise clients or management at their firm regarding strategies to limit future tax burdens. Public accountants must go through a rigorous certification process that includes passing the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam as well as meeting educational and work experience requirements.


 Employment Outlook

According to the , employment for accountants is expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Accountants with professional certifications like the CPA designation are expected to have the best job prospects.


The median salary for accountants was $68,150 in May 2016 according to the . The bottom 10% earns less than $42,140, while the top 10% earn more than $120,910.

What to Include in an Accountant Resume and Cover Letter

Whether you are applying for a position as a public accountant with a financial services firm or as a private accountant with a company, you will need to list the specific accounting proficiencies that you possess – things like AP/AR administration, general ledger reconciliation, tax accounting, or auditing. Your best guide for knowing which of your skills to emphasize is the specific description of the job to which you are applying. If the description mentions specific “Preferred Skills,” you need to echo these in your resume.

Showcase your education, certification, and training. Having earned your CPA certification or taking other continuing education courses will set you apart from other candidates who have not completed advanced accounting training. If you are still in the process of studying for your CPA designation, list the most relevant courses you have taken in the “Education” section of your resume.

Include mention of soft skills. While accountants are required to have strong analytical and mathematical skills, they also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and / or departmental team members.

Mentioning soft skills such as teamwork and oral / written communications talents will help to convince a potential employer that you would thrive not only working independently, but also in collaborative settings.

Accountant: Cover Letter Example

Your Name, CPA
Greenville, SC 29601
Mobile: 360.123.1234

Dear (Name):

Please accept the attached resume as a sign of my deep interest in the Accountant position that has opened with Upwards Corporation.

As a Certified Public Accountant with solid experience in both public and private accounting, I have developed a broad skillset in the fields of corporate treasury accounting, tax preparation, and auditing that will ensure my flawless analysis and organization of your company’s financial data. A few of my qualifications for this role include:

  • 5 years’ CPA experience with Greenville’s Mason Financial Services, successfully performing all accounting functions for business clients including Grant Seeds Co., Southern Interiors, and Harrison’s Market.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail in handling all tax and general ledger accounting, AP/AR, and budget / payroll preparation functions.
  • Certified Public Accountant designation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Clemson University, graduating Magna cum Laude.
  • Excellent understanding of QuickBooks, Crystal Reports, Peachtree, Paychex, SAP, and Microsoft Office Suite complemented by the ability to teach clients and peers rising software applications.

Eager to return to the intellectual challenges of private corporate accounting, I would welcome the chance to speak with you at greater length about how I could contribute to Upward Corporation’s accounting department. Thank you for your time, consideration, and forthcoming response.


Your Name

Accountant Position: Resume Example

Your Name, CPA
Greenville, SC 29601
Mobile: 360.123.1234


Analytical and meticulous Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with proven effectiveness preparing financial reports, budgets, analyses, and forecasts in strict compliance with GAAP and all regulatory standards. Well-versed in all corporate accounting functions, including complex federal and state tax accounting.

Proactive stance in reviewing all financials for accuracy and integrity. Work well both independently and as a dedicated team player, communicating effectively across organizational levels to troubleshoot and resolve emerging issues.

Core Accounting Competencies: Corporate Accounting, Corporate Reporting, Cost Accounting, Tax Accounting, GAAP, Risk Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Regulatory Compliance, Asset Management, General Ledger, Variance Analysis, Financial Audits, Financial Analysis

Technical Proficiencies: QuickBooks, Crystal Reports, Peachtree, Paychex, SAP, Microsoft Office Suite (Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, PowerPoint)

Professional Experience

Mason Financial Services, Inc., Greenville, SC
Certified Public Accountant, Mo/20XX – Present
Work closely with corporate clients and independent business owners to compile financial data, facilitate tax planning and preparation, and coordinate financial audits. Prepare and file Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports; liaise between clients and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as warranted.
Key Contributions:

  • Realigned financial reporting processes for client company, ensuring their first on-time submission of federal tax documents in 4 years and laying strong groundwork for future audit-free filings.
  • Trained clients in use of QuickBooks accounting software.
  • Led succession planning for 20XX merger of company with a smaller CPA firm.

Leopold Manufacturing Company, Clemson, SC
Staff Accountant, Mo/20XX – Mo/20XX
Concurrent with preparation for CPA examinations, performed general business accounting functions for manufacturing company. Compiled financial statements, handled AP/AR, and updated and balanced general ledger. Analyzed and optimized budget forecasts and reports.
Key Contributions:

  • Assumed responsibility, upon hiring, for reviewing and reconciling 18-month backlog of unbalanced financial records.
  • Implemented new processes to ensure timely preparation of monthly, quarterly, and annual closings.

Education and Credentials
Bachelor of Science, Accounting & Finance
Clemson University – Clemson, SC
Graduated Magna cum Laude

Certification: Certified Public Accountant (20XX)

Professional Training: Corporate Tax Accounting, Mergers and Acquisitions, Internal & External Audits

Incorporate Key Accounting Skills Into Your Resume

There are common accounting skills that you will be expected to know how to utilize as a new member of a public accounting firm or as a corporate accountant. An employer will generally list these skills under the “Job Responsibilities” section of their position description – and your resume needs to be structured in such a way that these skills immediately catch the eye of the hiring manager.

The best place to showcase your accounting “hard skills” is at the very beginning of your resume, right after your opening “Qualifications Summary” section. These keywords will “pop” on the page if you place them in a dedicated “Core Competencies” section or table; notice how, in the resume example above, the most important accounting skills (“Corporate Accounting, Corporate Reporting, Cost Accounting, Tax Accounting, GAAP, Risk Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Regulatory Compliance, Asset Management, General Ledger, Variance Analysis, Financial Audits, Financial Analysis”) are listed even before the “Professional Experience” section. They are then repeated, whenever possible, throughout the job descriptions and the bulleted “key contributions” text.

Because most financial reporting and accounting is conducted using sophisticated software, you should also list the programs you frequently use, either as a line of text within your Qualifications Summary or, as in the example above, in a “Technical Proficiencies” section.  

Accounting Skills List and Examples

Accounting requires certain hard skills, such as mathematics and expertise with accounting software. A thorough knowledge of relevant laws and regulations is necessary for many positions. Accountants must be detail oriented, have strong analytical skills, and a facility with computer software such as spreadsheet programs to organize and report financial data.

However, accounting also requires a number of soft skills that you might not learn in school, but will definitely help you land and keep a job. You can use the following list of top, sought-after skills to determine if a career in accountancy might be a good match for you.

Here's a list of accounting skills that employers are looking for in resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Included is a detailed list of the five most important accounting skills, as well as a longer list of even more accounting skills.

Top Five Accounting Skills

Accounting professionals must read, compare, and interpret figures and data. For example, accountants might work to minimize a client’s tax liability by looking at their finances. Auditors might analyze data to find instances of people misusing funds. Being able to analyze numbers and figures in documents is a critical skill for all accounting jobs.

  • Accuracy
  • Analysis
  • Attention to Detail
  • Compliance
  • Mathematical
  • Numerical Competence

Communication / Interpersonal
Accountants have to be able to communicate with other departments, colleagues, and clients. They might have to communicate in person, via email, or over the phone. Accountants also often have to give presentations. Therefore, their written and oral communication must be strong. Often, they have to present complex mathematical ideas in a clear, accessible way.

Detail Oriented
A lot of accounting is about paying attention to the little details. Accounting professionals often wade through a lot of data that they must analyze and interpret. This requires great attention to detail.

Information Technology
Accounting jobs often require knowledge of a variety of computer programs and systems. For example, an accountant might need to use finance-related software systems (like QuickBooks), a bookkeeper might need advanced Excel skills, or an auditor might need to know certain data modeling programs. Having a grasp of IT related to the accounting field will put you ahead of the job competition.

Organizational / Business
Organizational skills are important for accounting jobs. Accountants, bookkeepers, and others in the accounting field must work with and manage a range of clients’ documents. They need to be able to keep these documents in order, and manage each client’s data.

  • Asset Management
  • Business Awareness
  • Compliance
  • Corporate Reports
  • Credit Management
  • Finance
  • Professionalism
  • QuickBooks
  • Special Projects

Accountant Job Skills

A – G

  • Account Analysis
  • Account Reconciliation
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Accounting Software
  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounting Processes
  • Accounting Principles
  • Accounts Receivable
  • ADP
  • Aging Reports
  • Annual Reports
  • Audits
  • Audit Schedules
  • Balance Sheets
  • Banking
  • Bank Deposits
  • Bank Reconciliations
  • Bill Payment
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgets
  • Cash Receipts
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Check Runs
  • Corporate Tax
  • Cost Accounting
  • Credits
  • Crystal Reports
  • Debt Management
  • Depreciation
  • Federal Tax Law
  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Reporting
  • Financial Software
  • Financial Statements
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Fixed Assets
  • Forecasts
  • Forecasting
  • Full Charge Bookkeeping
  • Full Cycle Month-End Close
  • Full Cycle Year-end Close
  • GAAP
  • General Ledger
  • Great Plains Accounting
  • Great Plains Dynamics

H - M

  • Income Tax
  • Interest Calculations
  • Invoices
  • Job Cost Reports
  • Journal Entry Preparation/Posting
  • Monthly Closes

N - S

  • Oracle
  • Organization
  • Paychex
  • Payroll
  • Payroll Liabilities
  • Payroll Taxes
  • Peachtree
  • Personal Tax
  • Petty Cash
  • Platinum
  • Prepaid Income/Expenses
  • Profit and Loss
  • Reconciliation
  • Regulatory Filings
  • Reporting
  • Revenue Projections
  • Revenue Recognition
  • Sales Receipts
  • SAP
  • State Tax Law

T – Z

  • Tax Analysis
  • Tax Compliance
  • Tax Filing
  • Tax Law
  • Tax Liabilities
  • Tax Reporting
  • Tax Returns
  • Tax Software
  • Trial Balance
  • Vouchers
  • Year-End Reporting

Read More: List of Accounting Job Titles | List of Finance Skills | How to Get a Job as an Accountant