More Than Numbers

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: February 15, 2009 - 2:19 PM

Want a career in the accounting or finance field? Twin Cities professionals discuss what it takes to succeed.

Dear Matt: I am considering pursuing a career in accounting/finance. What do I need to do to succeed in this career? What skills do I need and how can I position myself for success?

Matt: I checked with Stephanie Laitala, president of Owl Bookeeping and Finance (www.owlbookkeepingandcfo .com) in Minneapolis to get some thoughts from her personal experience in this field. Here are five things she recommends:

  1. You must enjoy numbers and organization. And it's helpful if basic math comes to you naturally. To put you above and beyond, you must also be able to convey thoughts, ideas and concepts to non-accountants in a simple, straightforward way.
  2. Study the field. There are many choices in the accounting field. Find out if you like tax accounting, auditing orcorporate accounting. Once you do that....
  3. Invest in core competencies. As in any career choice make sure that you structure education to be career specific. In other words, take every possible accounting/finance course offered.
  4. Good accountants understand business. They want to know why and howthe numbers are impacted and what can be done to improve them. Consider a double major or a minor in business.
  5. Networking. Know the right people to get the right job. Talk to everyone you know, let them know what you want to do and line yourself up with others in the finance field.

Ryan Evers, division director of the Bloomington division of Accountemps, a staffing firm for accounting and finance professionals, adds that strong analytical skills, the ability to multi-task and communi-cation skills are critical in the accounting world. And, a BA or BS degree in accounting or finance is critical, especially if you're looking at financial analyst, staff or senior accountant roles.It's also advisable to consider adding the extra year to your education and obtaining your CPA certification.

This field is constantly evolving based on market changes, regulations and legislative initiatives. Be prepared for lifelong learning, and be open to working at furthering your education and training even when you find your dream job. It's a must to succeed.

Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to

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