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Responsibility is an important word in accounting. Although there is virtually no health hazards connected with accounting, there is a certain amount of tension connected with the job. When balancing the books at the end of the year, you may have difficulty in finding mistakes, which, of course, could worry and frustrate you. Again, it’s all because of responsibility; as an accountant, you have a lot of it. But how you deal with it depends on you and how well adjusted you become to your work environment and the situations that arise in your field.
Although we shall talk a great deal about machines and their relationship to the accountant, we mustn’t forget another important aspect of accounting: people. You’ll get to meet a lot of them. If you’re the kind of person who likes new experiences and personal adventures, you will enjoy this. Sure, some of them may be irritating and even obnoxious (it’s all just like school, isn’t it?), some of them will be interesting and wonderful, and you should be rewarded with many important relationships. The office “family” can be a significant one in any working person’s life. Their support and interest in what you do can be very important and gratifying to you. In accounting, you will be dealing not only with numbers and figures every day, but also with all kinds of people as well.
As we have also said, accounting is not an end in itself. Many accountants become business executives because of their skills. If you think you might be interested in managerial duties, you can choose to work with a firm that has the opportunity for advancement for you. If you show executive ability, a liking for responsibility, initiative and resourcefulness in dealing with company problems, and if you display an interest in your company, then you may be in line for consideration when new posts within the company become vacant.
Although accounting is a stepping-stone to all kinds of jobs, many people who go into the field are happy and perfectly satisfied being accountants. For them, that is aiming as high as they want-although, as you will see in the article on CPAs, there is something to aim for even in your own field.
Basically, though, accounting is anything and everything you want to make it. Your life can be as enriched as you want it to be. The field will give you a certain amount of financial security, and you can do all kinds of interesting things with that money. Because you can be more flexible with your time in accounting than you can in many other business fields, you can take the time to pursue other interests or to develop new ones.
Take advantage of every work experience you get. Suppose you have the chance to work as a delivery person in a supermarket on Saturdays. How can that work give you practical background experience? Say that you work at the check-out counter. You see the cashier operating a machine that saves time and helps maintain accuracy. You can learn to understand and appreciate this machine. You can help count receipts at closing time. You can watch the clerk figuring taxes. You can learn the amounts of these taxes and what they mean to the store. You see some of the stock when it is delivered to the store. You see a price on the statements and are told by the manager to mark the stock at various prices when it is put on the shelves. In other words, you learn that the store survives on the margin between wholesale and retail goods.
If you are good at figures, do neat work, and take at least a first-year course in bookkeeping in high school, consider asking the proprietor of a store-possibly a small one-to let you help keep the books. Most likely, this bookkeeping will be the double-entry system, which you will learn in the first-year course. If the business has to file state taxes at the end of the month, ask to see one of the forms. A gas station is another good place to offer your services. Even if the proprietor can’t pay you anything, you will be richer because of the practical experience.
In addition, a great number of businesses do credit work. It’s important for you to know how this works. Keep your eyes open, and keep in mind that you are interested in anything that concerns a business, regardless of its size. These are things that you are going to be concerned with later, when you are working in accounting. Understand how a business earns its income, and you will broaden your concepts and deepen your understanding of business and the people in it.
Think of your accounting education in two ways: education that is necessary, and education that is desirable for successful accounting.