Traditionally, accounting is a job that pays well and is essential in maintaining a business.
Without an expert accountant, a business is unable to make the most of its finances.
According to Indeed, the average salary for accountants is $59,606 with pay increasing the longer your tenure in the field.
Because of how important the role is and the work that you do, you may wonder how difficult it is to become an accountant or perform the job.
Becoming an accountant can be challenging if you’re not great at math or are unable to manage your time well.
Here are 10 more reasons why accounting can be hard.
Is Accounting Hard? (10 Truths To Consider)
1. It Involves Math
Perhaps one of the main reasons that people think accounting is difficult is because it involves math.
If you don’t like math or you’re not particularly good at it, then you’ll probably find accounting to be hard.
Accounting is all about numbers and how they apply to finances.
While there are several fields and careers under the wider umbrella of accounting, you can always expect to work with numbers in some way.
For example, if you work as a bookkeeper, then your entire day involves crunching numbers.
If you’re an accountant who also advises businesses, then you may have someone else crunch the numbers for you.
However, you’re still responsible for making those numbers make sense to the client.
In most cases, you only need to know basic math to become an accountant.
That said, you need a firm grasp of basic math.
You need to be able to add, subtract, divide, and multiply with accuracy.
The higher up the accounting ladder you climb, the more advanced the math becomes.
For example, if you’re involved with projections, then you may need to know some basic algebra to use certain formulas to make those projections.
In most cases, you won’t need to use something as advanced as engineering.
However, if math isn’t your strong point or you don’t have an interest in the subject, then you might find accounting boring or hard.
Since it isn’t a subject that interests you, you may face some difficulty in remaining engaged if you’re taking an accounting class.
As a result, you might start to perform poorly.
Since accounting is a type of education that builds on itself, if you don’t grasp the basics, then you’re going to struggle with the more advanced concepts.
Accounting can be hard if you don’t like math or you aren’t particularly strong in math.
Accounting can also be very overwhelming.
In school, you’ll have a ton of work that you need to complete.
It’s a glimpse of what working as an accountant can be like.
In the real world, you’ll likely find yourself very busy.
Many entry-level jobs in accounting involve bookkeeping, for example.
As a bookkeeper, you’ll have to crunch numbers as you receive them.
You’re responsible for keeping the business owner apprised of the money coming in and going out.
Since business revenue and expenses change day by day, you’re going to constantly be redoing your work.
In some cases, you might be responsible for putting that information together into presentations.
You may need to crunch the numbers yourself or get them from those below you.
It’s also always worth double-checking the numbers to ensure the entry-level accountants got them right.
Then you need to prepare presentations and ensure you can make the numbers make sense to those who aren’t accountants.
That’s a lot of work.
If there are other tasks involved with your specific job, then you need to fit in time to complete those, too.
Accounting work can keep you very busy.
At times, you might feel as though the work can be overwhelming.
Because it feels so overwhelming, it can be difficult to stay focused and on track.
You might be worried about missing a deadline.
It might even start to affect your home life.
You may choose to work longer hours to get everything done and miss out on time with your friends, family, or loved ones.
That can make things even more difficult for you.
Because the amount of work that you do can sometimes feel overwhelming, it can make accounting seem very hard.
3. Four-Year Bachelor’s Degree
To become an accountant, you usually need a bachelor’s degree.
While you can sometimes find bookkeeping jobs that don’t require a degree, you’ll be able to negotiate your salary a lot easier if you have a degree under your belt.
At the very least, you should expect to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
The problem with getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting is that it usually requires you to take 120 credits.
Many of those credits involve accounting classes or precursors to accounting classes.
For example, you might start off taking classes about basic finance or finance law.
You may also need to take basic college courses.
Once you finish the basics, then you can start to take more advanced accounting classes.
Most colleges also require you to take electives or other classes not related to your degree.
For example, you might need to take some classes in history or science.
This is to help round out your education so you become a more attractive employee to employers.
These courses provide you with a robust set of skills and knowledge that go above and beyond what many employers are looking for.
The problem with that is that it adds more to your plate.
If you find accounting classes difficult, then having more classes that require your attention can make it even more difficult.
You might find yourself starting to fail certain classes because you have so much on your plate.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting can be hard because you have to focus on so many other things besides just accounting.
Accounting is hard because of the difficulty involved in getting a bachelor’s degree.
4. Master’s Degree
While having a bachelor’s degree in accounting is great for your resume, you’ll still find the competition for certain jobs pretty stiff.
That’s because a bachelor’s degree is really the bare minimum of the education you can get.
If you want to stand apart from the rest, then you should consider getting a master’s degree in accounting.
A master’s degree usually delves deeper into a specific field within accounting.
When you are working toward your master’s, you typically have a certain career or industry in mind that you wish to perform accounting for.
For example, you might be set on joining the corporate world.
Others may want to learn about agricultural accounting.
Whatever specific type of accounting you’re interested in, a master’s degree will educate and train you for the tasks you’ll face.
The problem with getting a master’s degree is that it’s even more difficult than a bachelor’s degree.
Professors usually expect you to have a firm grasp of the basic education you received with your bachelor’s degree.
If that foundation isn’t that strong for you, then learning more advanced concepts may be out of reach.
There’s a lot of studying involved in getting your master’s degree.
If you’re unable to devote the time and effort to studying, then you might find accounting to be very difficult to master.
Accounting is hard because it sometimes requires you to get a master’s degree which can be difficult to achieve for some.
5. CPA Exam
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of becoming an accountant is the eventual CPA exam.
If you want to be a certified public accountant, then you have to pass the exam.
The certification enables you to start practicing accounting.
While you can sometimes get away without taking the exam, you’ll find it difficult to get hired.
Many employers expect their accountants to have certification.
The problem with the CPA exam is that it can be quite tough.
There are four sections to the exam.
- Auditing and Attestation
- Business Environment and Concepts
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
Some jurisdictions also require an ethics exam.
They want to make sure that the accountants who pass are going to help keep businesses regulated rather than assist them in committing fraud.
Once you become eligible to take the exam, you have 18 months to pass each section.
You need to score at least 75 to pass.
If you fail a section, then you can retake it, but you’ll have to schedule that test again.
If you don’t take and pass each section within 18 months, then you’ll have to start the process over again.
Along with the exam, you’re also expected to have some experience in the field.
You need at least 2,000 hours of experience under the supervision of a CPA accountant.
Finding that sort of experience can be difficult on your own, but your professors and college advisors can usually help.
Once you’ve accumulated enough hours and have passed your exam, you can apply for your license.
The exam can be quite difficult since it covers both basic and advanced concepts of accounting.
There are practice exam books that you can use to study with.
However, if you’re not great at taking exams, then the CPA exam could be difficult for you.
Accounting is hard because you must pass the CPA exam to become a licensed accountant.
6. Tax Law
Another difficult aspect of being an accountant is understanding tax law.
Even if you don’t directly deal with taxes, they’re still going to impact your work in some way.
The problem with tax law is that it can be very difficult to understand.
For one, you have to understand law jargon.
Lawmakers tend to use advanced and dry words when writing laws.
It’s practically an entire language in itself.
To be the best kind of accountant, you’ll need to understand those laws.
If you work with taxes directly, then it’s even more important to understand them.
You can’t do someone’s taxes without knowing what the tax laws are.
Otherwise, you might end up telling the business that they owe more in taxes than they actually do.
They won’t be happy about overpaying the government.
Understanding tax law also gives you an advantage because it can help you reduce how much the business has to pay in taxes.
You can help the business improve their revenue which they can then use to invest back into the business.
At the very least, an understanding of tax law ensures that you’re not helping the business commit fraud.
You could ruin both your and your businesses’ reputation if you were to do so either knowingly or not.
However, learning tax law isn’t easy.
Besides being difficult to decipher, tax law also changes.
Sometimes it changes every year.
That requires you to stay on top of everything and re-learn it.
Accounting is hard because it often involves understanding tax laws.
7. Data Analysis
Another big part of accounting is being able to analyze data.
Your entire job is essentially organizing data, analyzing it, and making sense of it for others.
Your specific role might mean that you spend your time organizing the data rather than making sense of it.
The higher up you are, the more tasks you’re expected to complete.
You may find that you have to analyze the data that other accountants crunch for you.
To other people, it’s all numbers without much meaning.
It’s your job to make the numbers make sense.
You also have to figure out a way to help a business make the numbers do what they want them to do.
That might mean projecting different models based on the data that you have.
If you’re working as both an accountant and a financial analyst, for example, then you can be sure that businesses are going to be looking to you for advice on how to lower costs and increase revenue.
The problem with data analysis is that it may not be your strong point.
While it’s a skill and lesson learned in school, it’s also something that you learn on the job.
You may find that what you learned in school doesn’t quite line up with what you’re experiencing in the real world.
That sort of disconnect can make doing your job very difficult because you’re essentially re-learning everything.
Accounting can be hard because it involves a heavy amount of data analysis.
8. Leadership Or Communication Skills
The higher you climb on the accounting ladder, the more involved you are with the business owners.
The lowest rung, the bookkeeper, rarely interacts with the owners of large businesses.
They tend to report their findings to a manager or someone just below the owners.
As you work up the ladder and take on more advanced tasks, however, you’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with industry leaders and business owners.
This makes accounting difficult because you no longer just need a firm grasp of math.
You also need a firm grasp of communication and public speaking.
Business owners will likely expect you to host presentations about the information that your team has analyzed.
Your job still involves analysis and organization, but it also includes public speaking.
This can make accounting hard because some people may not be comfortable in a leadership role.
They might not have great public speaking skills, so doing presentations could be quite difficult for them.
That’s especially true since some business owners may not like what you have to say.
No one likes being the bearer of bad news.
Accounting can be hard because you sometimes have to perform tasks outside of your comfort zone.
9. Spreadsheet Formulas And Organization
An accountant’s best friend, and worst nightmare, is spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets can help you stay organized, but if you don’t understand the software, then it can become a nightmare.
Certain spreadsheets, like Excel, can have formulas attached to them.
This can make an accountant’s job a bit easier, but it also means they have to remember certain formulas that are specific to the spreadsheet.
If the accountant is a relatively busy person, then remembering all the formulas might not be easy.
That’s especially true if the business they’re working for decides to switch out the software with something else.
Staying organized is another difficult aspect of becoming an accountant.
You have to quickly organize tons of information before more is sent your way.
Staying organized and using spreadsheet software can sometimes make being an accountant difficult.
A final reason why accounting is hard is that it requires you to be detail-oriented.
You need to be able to focus on the details and ensure nothing is missing or incorrect.
If even one number is out of place, then it can completely change the analysis of the information.
Accounting is all about the details.
It’s also about using those details to paint a bigger picture that you can share with business owners or clients.
Being able to focus on details isn’t easy for everyone.
If you’re unable to recognize small details, then accounting may be difficult for you.
Accounting is a great profession for those who are detail-oriented, can stay organized, and have a great sense of basic math.
If you’re not someone who is great at math or working with people, then you may find the job difficult.
Studying to become an accountant can also be difficult since it involves a lot of coursework and a big exam at the end.NEXT: Is DashPass Worth It? (10 Reasons It Is)