So You Wanna Be an Accountant
The job of an accountant
As an accountant, you will be responsible for an individual's or a company's financial statements, ensuring that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations. You would need to use accepted accounting procedures to organise and maintain financial records and ensure that taxes are paid. In addition, accountants advise their clients or employers on ways to reduce costs and improve profits. Accountants also need to analyse trends to project future revenues and expenses.
Is this job for you?
Accountants must have good analytical skills and be detail oriented. They need to be able to pay attention to detail when examining and identifying issues in documentation; and suggest solutions. Good communications skills are also essential when it comes to listening to their clients or employers and discussing their work during meetings. Strong organisational skills and a passion for figures are also important.
The interest code for this career is CE (Conventional and Enterprising). This means that a person who likes accounting would probably reflect these personality traits:
- Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
Why study accountancy?
- Better employability – According to MIA, there was a demand for at least 60,000 accountants in Malaysia in 2020
- Flexible career options – you can work in many roles from finance or marketing to politics and management
- Advancement opportunities – you can further your studies by pursuing a postgraduate degree or a professional qualification
- High pay – according to PayScale.com, mid-career accountants in Malaysia have an average salary of RM62,000 per year.
Accountants should exhibit work styles that include integrity and dependability. They also need to be careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. Analytical thinking is required when analysing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems. This job also requires tolerance for stress and being able to accept and deal with criticism.
Accountants value achievement and tasks that are results oriented, allowing them to use their strongest abilities. They also enjoy independence in working on their own and making decisions. A supportive management is also important to accountants.
Accountants typically work in offices, although some set up a freelance practice from home. The work can be stressful and longer hours are expected during certain times of the year such as at the end of a financial year for a company, or during the tax season. While it's common for accountants to work alone, they also work hand in hand with other accountants or auditors. Accountants may also be required to travel to their clients' places of business.
Places of employment
Accountants may work in the ‘Big Four' multinational accountancy firms or other accountancy firms. They are also employed at banks, investment banks, insurance companies, management consultancies, or in the accounting or finance department of almost any area of business or industry.
Job entry requirement
To become a qualified accountant, you will need to obtain a recognised degree or a professional accountancy qualification; and 3 years of approved experience. Here are some examples of professional accountancy bodies in Malaysia:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Certified Practising Accountants Australia (CPA Australia)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)
- Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)
Education and training qualifications:
- Diploma in Accounting
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Professional Accounting Qualification
- Bachelor's degree in Accounting
- Master's degree and Master's degree and PhD in Accounting
Often, accounting degrees may be offered in combination with finance, business or taxation. Find out where you can pursue a degree at bachelor, master or doctoral level in accounting on our website.
Pathways to becoming an accountant in Malaysia
If you’re thinking of becoming an accountant but you’re not sure which pathway is best for you, here’s an example of how you can study to become an accountant after SPM/ UEC/ IGCSE or STPM/ A levels.
If you’re aiming for an ACCA qualification you can choose this pathway after SPM and pursue the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification, which has nine papers in total. The CAT Qualification is a foundation-level programme specifically designed to provide students with a solid understanding of finance and accounting. Meanwhile, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia students and those with a recognized bachelor degree can apply directly for the ACCA Qualification, with the latter being able to claim up to nine paper exemptions. Upon completion of the ACCA Qualification, students can apply to the MIA to become a chartered accountant in the country.
Alternatively, you can study for a bachelor degree in accounting before sitting for a professional qualification like ICAEW, ACCA or CPA. Some students may prefer this pathway as they will gain a degree qualification as well as a professional accounting qualification.
Here’s an example of possible pathways for a student after SPM right up to a PhD in accounting.
Source: International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW)
Wondering if you should choose accounting? Watch this video to find out more about what accountants do.
If you're considering the ACCA programme, you can learn more about it from this video.
- Courses and careers in accounting and finance
- Accounting or finance – What's the difference?
- Are you considering a career in accounting and finance?
- Your career in accountancy, powered by ACCA