- Hays, 'Quarterly Report - Accounting and Finance July to September 2013', 2013
- Michael Page, 'New Zealand Salary and Employment Forecast 2013/3014', 2013
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Robert Walters, 'Accounting and Finance Update', 2013.
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Accountant - How to enter the job Alternative titles
Accountants provide accounting systems and services relating to taxation and the financial dealings of organisations and individuals. They also advise on associated record-keeping and compliance requirements.
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Bachelor of Commerce
Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting or Honours in Accounting
Registration with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
Pay for accountants varies depending on the region they work in, their level of experience and the size of the organisation they work for.
- Assistant accountants earn between $32,000 and $70,000 a year.
- Accountants earn between $60,000 and $135,000 a year.
Source: Hays, '2013 Hays Salary Guide', 2013.
What you will do
Accountants may do some or all of the following:
- prepare financial statements and reports for clients or company management
- record the amount of money spent and received daily by clients or company management
- develop, forecast and check budgets
- ensure compliance with tax legislation
- prepare GST (Goods and Services Tax) and other returns, such as surveys, PAYE (Pay as You Earn) and tax forms
- advise on financial aspects of businesses such as budgets, tax and cashflows
- review accounting procedures and analyse financial performance of businesses
- assist management with strategic planning and human resources (HR).
Skills and knowledge
Accountants need to have:
- knowledge of finance, economics and marketing
- knowledge of business management practices, including business ethics
- accounting and maths skills.
- usually work regular hours, but may work weekends or evenings to meet deadlines
- work in offices, but may travel to visit clients within their local area.
What's the job really like?
Akanesi Havea - Financial Accountant
Akanesi Havea came to New Zealand in 2001, and had many years of experience in the finance sector in the Solomon Islands. However, whenever she applied for jobs, the message from prospective employers was the same – her experience in another country counted for little. She realised she had to do more.
“I needed the piece of paper.”
Though Akanesi felt confident she could succeed at university, she had never envisaged a time when she would be able to combine motherhood and study. “I never thought that dream would come true.”
Family support helped Akanesi achieve her qualification
Attending eldest daughter Loisi’s parent-teachers' evening proved to be Akanesi’s turning point. She discovered that Loisi did not want to go to university.
“Right," Akanesi said to Loisi, “from now on you will have all the responsibilities at home and I will go to school."
With Loisi’s help, Akanesi managed to juggle three years of full-time study completing the Bachelor of Commerce and Administration at Victoria University at the same time as looking after her family.
In 2009, she got her “piece of paper”, and as she led the graduation parade through the streets of Wellington, Loisi was by her side.
The following year, Loisi enrolled in a tourism course at the same university.
To become an accountant you need to have a commerce degree majoring in accounting or finance.
Most people working in accountancy are members of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA), and employers prefer this.
To become a chartered accountant with the NZICA you must:
- complete four years of academic study at an NZICA-approved tertiary education institution
- complete three years of workplace experience
- pass a postgraduate professional competency programme, which includes workshops and two NZICA exams.
To retain membership of the NZICA accountants must complete 20 hours of training a year by attending courses, seminars and presentations.
Accounting technician entry requirements
To become an accounting technician you need to complete two years of tertiary study. This could be either:
- a New Zealand Diploma in Business, or
- degree-level study including coverage of required accounting and business topics.
Accounting technicians must also complete one year of relevant accounting experience before, during or after they complete their tertiary study.
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants website - information on becoming a chartered accountant
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include accounting, economics, English and maths with statistics and/or calculus.
Accountants need to be:
- methodical and accurate, with a good eye for detail
- able to work well under pressure
- honest and responsible
- skilled in analysing and interpreting information
- skilled in organising and planning
- good problem-solvers
- good communicators and able to deal well with people.
Useful experience for accountants includes:
- accounts and auditing work
- work in information and technology
- work in offices and administration.
Membership with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants is recommended.
View information on courses in the course database
Find out more about training
years of training required
What are the chances of getting a job?
Your chances of getting work as an accountant are best if you are a senior financial or management accountant.
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of people employed as accountants remained fairly stable between 2010 and 2012.
Demand for accountants is expected to keep rising as:
- a range of industries, such as manufacturing, have begun to fill accountant positions that were left vacant during the 2008-2009 economic recession
- many accountants leave New Zealand to work overseas, which creates vacancies.
Senior accountant appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging experienced accountants from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Types of employers varied
Most accountants work for accounting firms, which can range in size from small firms employing just a few people, to large, nationwide firms employing hundreds of people.
Other types of businesses also employ accountants to help with finances and planning. These include:
- legal firms
- marketing and business management companies
- central and local government departments and organisations
- financial asset investors.
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Progression and specialisations
Accountants may begin their careers as accounting technicians.
Many accounting technicians move into chartered accounting after completing further training with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants. They may also move into senior management or financial adviser roles.
Accountants may also specialise in an area of accounting such as:
- Management Accountant
- Management accountants analyse the financial information needs of organisations, provide advice on financial planning and risk management, and provide management with reports to assist in decision-making.
- Taxation Accountant
- Taxation accountants report and provide advice on taxation issues to organisations or individuals, prepare taxation returns and reports, and handle disputes with taxation authorities.
How many people are doing this job?
Job vacancies by region
Updated 28 Apr 2015