What Does a Financial Accountant Do?

Financial accountants prepare reports that assess an organization's fiscal performance for shareholders, creditors and taxing agencies. Read on to learn about the job duties, education and career outlook for financial accountants. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

An Overview of Financial Accountant Job Duties

A financial accountant categorizes, measures and documents the transactions of an organization. The accountant prepares a series of performance reports at the end of his or her organization's fiscal year, including a profit and loss statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. These reports are prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are the widely accepted accounting standards in the industry. GAAP standards ensure that reports are true, fair and an accurate reflection of financial performance.

Important Facts About Financial Accounting

Similar Occupations Financial analyst, budget analyst, cost estimator, personal financial advisor
Key Skills Organizational, communication, and analytical skills; an attention to detail
Work Environment Fast-paced full-time work, typically in an office setting, but sometimes from home
On-the-Job Training Part-time internships are available through accounting degree programs

What a Financial Accountant's Reports Do

A financial accountant's reports provide fair and accurate information in the form of balance sheets, cash flow statements and profit and loss statements. These financial statements focus on an enterprise's financial performance and its ability to adapt financially to changes in the economic environment. This information explores any factors that alter the intrinsic risk of the investment of shareholders or creditors. The financial accountant determines whether a company performs within its stated goals and if its managers make efficient use of resources.

Becoming a Financial Accountant

Some people get started on the path to becoming financial accountants by completing a 2-year degree program in accounting. Individuals who earn associate degrees from community colleges may qualify for entry-level bookkeeping jobs and pursue a bachelor's degree part time.

However, the most direct route consists of pursuing one of the many bachelor's degrees available in the field, such as the Bachelor of Science in Accounting, offered at 4-year colleges and universities. Following are the courses typically found in Bachelor of Science in Accounting curricula:

  • Introduction to accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Financial accounting
  • Tax accounting
  • Auditing
  • Organizational behavior
  • Accounting information systems


Many financial accountants earn the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. This requires passing scores on the Uniform CPA Examination, a 4-part test administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Prospective CPAs must also satisfy state requirements. For most states, this also means completing 150 credits of college coursework.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster than average job growth for accountants and auditors between 2016 and 2026. The BLS projects there will be a 10% job increase, which will account for approximately 139,900 new accountant and auditor jobs in the same decade. The BLS also reported that the median salary for accountants and auditors was $70,500 as of 2018.

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