Which Tech Skills Help Accountants Land Jobs?


Accounting Market Analyst

Accounting students probably know that their chosen field is expected to remain robust throughout our uncertain economic future; the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that, between now and 2018, accountants and auditors are likely to experience “much faster than average” employment growth. But to distinguish themselves from countless other applicants after graduation, students should seek out “real world” skills early on. Proficiency with business accounting software is critical to the modern skillset.

For the good of those bright young minds and others in the accounting field, I’ve gone over five hundred randomly selected accounting job postings from Monster.com, Career Builder, Craigslist, Simply Hired, and Accounting Jobs Today to see which software systems employers mentioned the most. Check out the results below.

Software Skills for Accounting Jobs

Key Takeaways

This article would be a whole lot shorter, and a lot less interesting, if I focused on the one product you absolutely must know – Microsoft Excel. Nearly one hundred percent of these employers mentioned Excel skills as a necessity. If you’re an accounting student and you don’t know about Excel, I advise you to stop reading this immediately and go learn it.

For those of you who remain, here are some key research findings that will help you get the job:

  • When finding your first job, look for a company that uses a “big name,” widely-used accounting system like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics or Oracle. That will improve your odds of getting hired next time you’re in the market for a new position.
  • More and more companies are focused on business intelligence – the tools that analyze financial data to uncover business trends and opportunities. Try to gain experience in Business Objects, Crystal Reports, Cognos, etc.
  • If you’re looking to work in a big corporation, you should learn systems like SAP and Oracle. If mid-size companies are your thing, learn Sage and Microsoft Dynamics. Quickbooks skills are always in demand, but especially by smaller companies.
  • As the Microsoft Dynamics products converge, knowing any one of these systems will give you transferable skills across the entire Dynamics product line. For now, Dynamics GP appears to be in highest demand.
  • Don’t get too comfortable with PeopleSoft or JD Edwards; although they make sizable slices of Oracle’s pie, they’re likely to decline in use as Oracle migrates to its Fusion apps. However, this won’t be happening any time in the immediate future.

Are you a recent graduate on the job hunt in the accounting field? An employer or accounting professional with a stubborn preference for one special system? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.solutionexplorers.com Keith German

    Hunter, thank you for this research and clear analysis. My experience is that this is an underappreciated point that you’ve made. It’s a point that employers should pay attention to also in regards to actually listing specifics in job opening descriptions. One thing that I keep expecting, but don’t see happening, is software companies actually listing job openings on behalf of their clients. Great post.

  • http://www.vocationvillage.com Dr. Janet Civitelli

    Hunter, I write a career advice column and I always recommend that job seekers perform this type of job analysis to see if there are any gaps between their expertise and what employers want, and you made it easy for accounting job seekers by performing the analysis for them! Very nice.

  • http://www.dubinandlee.com Saundra Lee

    In this environment, a company can absolutely get everything on their “wish list” when they add to staff but I have found in the last 12 years as a Corporate Accounting & Finance Headhunter that while one system may be of utmost importance to that company (usually the larger, complicated systems like SAP & Oracle) that they look for candidates that can understand many systems due to mergers and conversions in the near future. That is where things can get really tricky and they look for candidates that have had exposure to a multitude of systems to help them navigate through the transitions.

  • TMe

    How does a person get training on any of these software packages?  It seems like a catch 22 – a person can’t get training on a big system until they get the job, but they can’t get the job until they have training.  I have to think these companies could increase market share if they made training more readily available to students and job seekers.

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