5 Great Characteristics of a CPA

5 Essential Traits for Accounting Professionals

  • Motivation and Commitment
  • Strong Ethical Standards
  • Attention to Detail
  • Methodical and Organized
  • Desire for Self-Improvement

The defining characteristics of a CPA revolve around accountability, determination and a small dose of perfectionism. Students and practitioners who want to become certified public accountants (CPAs) need to build mathematical, financial and business skills in addition to developing several key personality traits and habits. These qualities are a great asset for any kind of professional, but they are an essential component for anyone who wants to unleash their potential through a career in accounting.

1. Motivation and Commitment

Many accounting professionals love doing what they do, but it’s no secret that not all projects or jobs in the field offer thrill and excitement. Accountants need to be able to see the big picture even as they deliberate over each detail. Their role is absolutely essential in virtually every industry and the well-being of entire organizations can hinge on the quality of their work. That means CPAs need to maintain their motivation, focus and commitment even on monotonous or familiar tasks.

2. Strong Ethical Standards

In accounting, there is no substitute for ethical standards. CPAs are expected to adhere to all the best practices and ethical codes of the profession in addition to applicable laws and regulations. Acting unethically can expose practitioners to disciplinary action by relevant professional organizations, including a permanent or temporary revocation of licensing. Unethical practice may also result in civil or criminal legal action, which can have disastrous consequences.

3. Attention to Detail

Meticulous attention to detail isn’t a requirement in every job, but it’s indispensable when working with numbers. Even small mistakes can cause serious issues for an employer or client, so CPAs who value their reputation always triple-check their work. Accountants should never take anything for granted and should always be willing to check the source or accuracy of information that doesn’t make sense.

4. Methodical and Organized

Even though each state in the United States has its own laws and processes for certifying accountants, they all use the same exam and adhere to common standards. Reporting and bookkeeping standards aren’t the only way to organize financial information, but they are the accepted and popular way. CPAs are expected to work according to these practices so that other parties, like executives or auditors, can readily access and use the information.

Related Resource: 30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Accounting

5. Desire for Self-Improvement

There are many layers to the accounting profession and not everyone working in the field wants to build on their career by seeking certification. However, those that do need to foster a desire for learning and self-improvement. While the exact requirements for becoming a CPA depend on state governments, all applicants are expected to pass a lengthy exam that covers auditing, business concepts, reporting and regulations, according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Personal accountability and self-discipline are both necessary to make it through the rigorous academic, examination and internship requirements to become certified. However, a successful and rewarding career in accounting also demands the active cultivation of the perspective, habits and personality characteristics of a CPA.

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