Essential skills for success at every level as a bookkeeper, accountant, and auditing clerk

From the business world to the nonprofit sector, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are essential.

From the business world to the nonprofit sector, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks are essential. These highly trained professionals produce and maintain financial records, helping businesses and organizations of all kinds sustain their operations. It isn't always easy to excel in this demanding role, however. Find out which skills are in demand for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing professionals at every level. Get this free guide: How to create the perfect resume.

Skills for bookkeeper, accountant, and auditing clerk

Entry-Level Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Skills

When you get your start as a bookkeeping, auditing, or accounting clerk, you'll need a few basic skills from Day 1. Whether you've just started your first job search or you're looking for a new entry-level position, get to know the skills you'll need to get a foothold in this field.

1. Math Skills

Most entry-level accountant jobs require you to have completed some basic accounting coursework to demonstrate that you grasp the fundamentals of the field. While these introductory courses are a step in the right direction, you should also make sure your math skills are up to speed.

In addition to your coursework, make sure you can solve simple arithmetic problems easily. After all, you'll deal with numbers constantly in this role. If you can't speak the language, you're bound to encounter endless stumbling blocks. If necessary, brush up on your math skills by investing in a software program or taking a community college course.

2. Computer Skills

No matter how comfortable you are with basic arithmetic, you must be able to apply your knowledge electronically. While many businesses maintain paper copies of financial statements and bank records, most rely on software programs to track numbers.

Before you start your first entry-level job, get comfortable with using computer spreadsheets and auditing software. If you've never used these applications, try completing a tutorial or joining a webinar to get hands-on instruction. In addition, take the time to hone your computer skills and research the programs that are most common for a professional at your level. If you're already familiar with the tools you need, you'll be prepared to shine from your first day on the job.

3. Attention to Detail

When you land a bookkeeping or accounting clerk job, you'll quickly learn that you can't succeed without excellent attention to detail. When you prepare financial statements and income reports, you'll be responsible for ensuring accuracy and avoiding errors of any kind. After all, even a small mistake can multiply and lead to big consequences.

If paying close attention to detail doesn't come naturally, you can take steps to develop this skill. Try making lists, limiting distractions, and taking on one task at a time. When you work to improve your focus, you'll become more detail-oriented and reduce your risk of making mistakes.

Mid-level Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Skills

After completing a few years in an entry-level position and receiving accolades, you'll undoubtedly be ready for a new challenge in the finance industry. Prepare yourself for a midlevel bookkeeper position by honing the following skills and abilities.

4. Integrity

To attain a midlevel position in the financial industry, you'll typically need to demonstrate your sense of integrity. After all, not just anyone is cut out for a role in bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing. In a midlevel position, you'll take on even more responsibility for guiding a business toward its goals. Most companies will seek assurance that you have their best interests in mind and that you can maintain confidentiality.

To demonstrate this skill, take steps to increase the transparency of your work. Don't withhold information from colleagues or superiors, and let your work speak to your honesty on the job.

5. Analytical Skills

In the financial industry, analytical skills are key to climbing the corporate ladder, as these go hand in hand with integrity and attention to detail. A natural inclination to analyze information can help you identify problems with financial records, spot errors in bank statements, and devise out-of-the-box solutions to puzzling issues. In some cases, strong analytical skills can also help your business prevent unethical or fraudulent practices.

6. Resourcefulness

Working in a mid-level bookkeeper position requires you to make decisions and solve problems constantly. To do this successfully, you'll need to be resourceful. To develop this ability, start anticipating probable issues and brainstorm ways to resolve them. If you take a proactive approach to problem-solving on the job, you could even improve your workflow or your company's standard procedures.

Senior-Level Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Skills

As you continue to excel at your role in the finance industry, additional opportunities will present themselves. Before you land that senior-level accounting manager job, you've been eyeing, however, you should make sure your skills are up to speed. Work on the following accounting skills to ensure that you succeed at the senior level.

7. Business Acumen

When you land an accounting manager role, you do much more than just crunch numbers. You also lead teams of accounting clerks and develop systems for analyzing and reporting financial information. In short, you take on a business-oriented role within the company.

To do this job well, you'll need business acumen, or the ability to assess risks and opportunities. To improve your business acumen, try enrolling in a few business courses at your local university, or seek out a higher level mentor who you can learn from one on one.

8. Legal Knowledge

As a high-level accountant, you'll need more than just business savvy. You'll also need specialized legal knowledge and an understanding of how financial law affects your company's practices.

This isn't a skill you're likely to develop naturally, but you might absorb all the legal knowledge you need over the course of on-the-job training and years of experience. If you find that you need to learn more, don't hesitate to enroll in a business law course to fill in the gaps.

Not just anyone is cut out to succeed as a bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing professional. If you have what it takes, put your skills to work and apply for an entry-level accounting clerk position or a senior-level management role in a field you love.