By Bob Schneider

Accounting is a glorious but misunderstood field. The popular view is that it's mostly mind-numbing number-crunching; it certainly has some of that, but it's also a rich intellectual pursuit with an abundance of compelling and controversial issues. Accountants are often stereotyped as soulless drones laboring listlessly in the bowels of corporate bureaucracies. But many accountants will tell you that it's people skills, not technical knowledge, that are crucial to their success. And although it's often thought of as a discipline of pinpoint exactitude with rigid rules, in practice accountants rely heavily on best estimates and educated guesses that require careful judgment and strong imagination.

Actually, stereotyping accounting and accountants, either positively or negatively, is useless because accounting involves so many different activities. The short-but-sweet description of accounting is "the language of business." A more formal definition is offered by The American Accounting Association: "The process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by users of the information."

However defined, accounting plays a vital role in facilitating all forms of economic activity in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, in endeavors ranging from coal mining to community theater to municipal finance.


Next: Accounting Basics: History Of Accounting »



comments powered by Disqus
Trading Center