Most people would never guess that I’m an accountant, based on my appearance and personality. I am a mom, a young woman, and the life of the party when I go out! I’m an extrovert and would never define myself as a nerd. I just happen to love numbers and I’m good at accounting.
So why are people so surprised to learn I’m an accountant?
There’s a stereotype that comes to mind when people hear the word ‘accountant’. That image may be an old bald man in boring business clothes, sitting behind a desk, with a calculator. He uses a pocket protector and calls himself a nerd.
You know very well that stereotypes never apply to all people in a group (and sometimes they don’t apply to any). But we must evaluate those mental images and assumptions we have before we can change them. Let’s look at some common stereotypes of accountants.
“Accounting is possibly the most confusing, boring subject in the world,
but if you want to be rich long-term, it could be the most important subject.”
–Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Accountants are boring
Accountants, boring? [Queue outraged gasp!] This perception may stem from the fact that many people view mathematics and accounting as boring. And yes, accountants need to know their math. But an industry being commonly regarded as boring doesn’t mean the people working in that field are dull.
You’ll probably be surprised to learn which famous people studied accounting and/or have an accounting degree. Actors, musicians, entrepreneurs, and many others are among the list of former or almost-accountants.
Mick Jagger studied accounting for a short time before starting his music career. He studied accounting at the London School of Economics, but later rose to fame in The Rolling Stones.
The infamous sax musician Kenny G. graduated with honors in accounting. Oh and we can’t forget the iconic Janet Jackson who majored in accounting in college and has said if she hadn’t become a successful singer, she would probably be working as an accountant!
There are also accountants who are successful entrepreneurs, like the founders of Nike and The Home Depot. Oh, and an accountant created bubble gum. Are musicians, entrepreneurs, and bubble gum boring? Of course not.
Accountants work all the time
Another stereotype of accountants is that they have a terrible work-life balance. You may hear about CPAs working 80 work weeks during tax time, but that isn’t always the case. Many smaller accounting firms include work-life balance in their core values.
Today, great employers understand that spending time with family is important, and a good work-life balance allows people to enjoy the work they do even more.
Accountants live in a spreadsheet
People also seem to think accountants live in a spreadsheet world. But in 2022, we are all about automation in the accounting field. We would rather find an app or plugin to connect with the accounting software we use to transfer data and create the reports we need. The less spreadsheet manipulation required, the better. Learn about our favorite virtual bookkeeping tools we use to work smarter.
Accountants all do the same thing
Many people believe accountants all do the same thing. But there are many different types of accounting. A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, could focus on tax preparation, financial planning, forensic accounting, or internal auditing. And those are just to name a few of the many types of accounting specialties.
While we’re on the topic of CPAs, not all accountants are CPAs. Someone could simply be a Bookkeeper or an Accountant. You don’t even need a degree to call yourself an accountant. You can read a bit more about this in our blog post ‘Do I need a bookkeeper or a CPA?’
At the end of the day, the ‘accountants are boring’ stereotype is my least favorite. Both my life and my personality are far from boring. Reconsider any assumptions you make about accountants – and other professions for that matter.
It’s also important that the next generation have a more open-minded view of accountants or accounting in general. After all, every generation to come will continue to need accountants.
For more myth busting, check out: