Ideal Accounting Skills for Working with a Not-for-Profit

Needed across industries and sectors of the economy, accountants play vital roles in maintaining the financial success of any endeavor. In the not-for-profit world, accountants take on the job of securing resources and reducing operating costs to help task-driven organizations achieve more good in the world.

 

Many accountants likely see this as a good enough reason to pursue accounting as a career. Through managing nonprofit budgets and expenditures, an accountant can indirectly serve individuals and communities in need. Even ministers have switched careers to capitalize on the amount of good they could achieve through accounting.

 

But not-for-profit work isn’t the same as traditional accounting work. While many of the same skills apply, accountants in the nonprofit world must hone a unique set of talents. Here’s what you should know.

How Non-Profit Accounting Differs

Many accountants making the transition from work in the for-profit world face a steep learning curve when starting with a non-profit. These economic sectors differ, composed, and driven by different goals and overall missions. While for-profit companies will be more focused on bottom lines, not-for-profits look more at their overall goals and the ways they are using their resources.

 

Accountants in this new environment must be clear on these differences and explore how alternative goals affect accounting work in general. For instance, for-profit entities operate using an often singular ledger system that details revenues and expenditures in a self-balancing account. Not-for-profits, on the other hand, operate with a series of resources and ledgers that must be balanced for ideal application.

 

In conducting this work, there are all kinds of varying terms and practices for accountants to learn. For example, retained earnings become net assets and a net income means an excess of revenues. Rather than an income statement, non-profit accountants create a statement of operations.

 

While these differences may seem primarily semantic, they represent the different goals and practices that drive non-profits versus for-profit businesses. With a non-profit, you don’t want money left over: you want an organization that is doing the most with what it has.

 

That said, there are many useful skills that a not-for-profit accountant can hone to bring greater success to their organization.

Invaluable Skillsets for Not-for-Profit Accountants

First, while accountants can certainly specialize in non-profit work from their undergraduate program onward, any professional with an accounting degree can translate their skills into success with a not-for-profit organization. 

 

Then, it is simply a matter of learning the differences and finding methods to improve the flow of finances and resources towards non-profit goals. Aside from being adept at navigating the nuances of tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization, not-for-profit accountants require skills like the following:

Excellent Organizational Abilities

For an accountant, the ability to manage a ledger system complete with all its fluctuating account details is a must. For non-profits, however, the impetus for an ideal organization is even stronger. Nonprofits depend on efficiently maintained records to prove their tax-exempt status and be able to highlight processes for investors and stakeholders.

 

Auditing experience is a highly desirable trait of a non-profit accountant as a result. With the ability to organize and review records to prove compliance with investor and governmental requirements, accountants can keep a non-profit smoothly functioning. 

Effective Management of Tight Budgets

The majority of not-for-profit organizations operate with budgets of less than $1 million. Because of this, accountants in the industry need to keep a sharp eye out for any place they can reduce operational costs while also guaranteeing that donor and grant money goes where it needs to go. 

 

Non-profits are often limited by money given with specific donor restrictions. It is the job of the accountant to ensure that these restrictions are being met and reported within financial documentation. This takes attention to detail and great problem-solving skills. 

Quality Communication

One of the most important qualities for any accountant is the ability to communicate financial information. This is even more important in the not-for-profit sector, where donors want specific things and your organization has a mission to fulfill. 

 

Honing your communication skills can be one of the best ways to excel as a non-profit accountant. This takes empathy and clarity, as well as a willingness to be open to questions and concerns. Any member of your organization should be able to come to you with a question and come away with a clear explanation. Teammates should also be able to contribute with useful feedback and clarify practices wherever necessary. 

 

Implementing these ideal skills into your own toolset can be a great way to maximize the potential of your not-for-profit. If you’re just getting started in the non-profit sector, demonstrating these skills can help get your foot in the door. 

Improving your Status as a Non-Profit Accountant

Getting started as a non-profit accountant requires proper networking and professional qualities. While improving your skills, you can adapt your work and academic experience to write a great accounting resume. In turn, you’ll be able to improve your status as a non-profit accountant and land work with your dream organization. 

 

Your ability to do so, however, will come down to how well you showcase your skills on your resume. Highlight your soft skills like listening and communicating effectively alongside harder skills like experience with certain accounting software. Translate relevant job experience into applicable traits for non-profit work, or express a willingness to learn and adapt. 

 

Not-for-profits need skilled and attentive accountants to streamline the effectiveness of their resources. Demonstrating effective organization, budget management, and communication skills can help you get in the door with the non-profit of your choice. 

 

Then, hone these skills to ensure that your organization does the most good that it is capable of doing. By implementing skillsets and strategies like these, accountants can make a real difference in the world.

Lastly, become a certified Professional Bookkeeper that is both trained and certified in both For-Profit & Non-Profit accounting.

How to Get a Tax License

If you’re thinking about getting a tax license, you’re on track for a lucrative addition to your career. Becoming a certified Professional Tax Preparer is an excellent step toward a satisfying financial future. Many people obtain their tax license and use it as a stepping stone to other opportunities, such as owning a tax services business. Simply including tax preparation skills on your resume and getting a tax license is an excellent pathway for advancing your current career.

Universal Accounting leads the way in small business tax training and is approved by the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) to offer the Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) certification as a distance learning course in California. Universal Accounting offers a money-back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with your tax preparation course, you can simply return your materials and receive your money back.

What Is IRS Tax Certification?

An IRS-certified tax preparer has unlimited rights to represent their clients in front of the IRS. Because IRS preparation is detailed and constantly changing, IRS-certified tax preparers can help clients better navigate the complexities of the system, including tax payments, audits, and preparing appeals in the event of an IRS error. Certified tax preparers are consultants who have a right to be paid for the work they perform for clients.

When you choose a reputable tax preparation certification course, it will include current information on tax laws. It will also prepare students for changes in tax laws for the upcoming years. The course will train students in state and federal tax forms and how to prepare them accurately.

I Want to Become Certified: What’s Next?

Tax preparers don’t have to be IRS-certified to work with clients and be compensated for their work, but certification is the best route to take if they plan to pursue a career in the field. Not only can certification increase future salaries and add more opportunities to the table, but it can also increase demand for services.

Certification is possible through IRS-approved educational training courses. Those interested in taking the next step in certification can find official courses listed on the IRS website. It’s essential to ensure the IRS has vetted the courses to make the certification official in the government’s eyes.

Luckily, modern technology has made hands-on tax preparation education more accessible and flexible than ever before. Online courses are a convenient way to enhance education while juggling family life and work responsibilities because they are available on-demand, day or night.

After you make the choice to pursue your tax license, it is time to find the program that is right for you, aligns with your goals, and is within your means.

How to Choose a Program

Students pursuing an IRS certification should keep a few things in mind when searching for a program. First and most importantly, the educational provider has to be listed as an IRS-approved course provider. Other aspects include:

  • Official “PTP” designation
  • Educational tuition assistance if necessary
  • Individual counselors
  • A timeline that aligns with their goals
  • Business coaching after completion

These aspects will help students set themselves up for success in the next phase of their careers.

Partnering with an organization such as Universal Accounting is an intelligent way to get started with a training course that encompasses all the aspects of a great program and is IRS-approved. The Professional Tax Preparer certification is a self-paced online training to prepare personal and business taxes and prepare students for the IRS’ enrolled agent (EA) exam.

The best certification programs support students after completing courses by partnering them with coaches and mentors with real-world experience. This additional training is invaluable to those looking to grow in the profession. The teachers and coaches at Universal Accounting know what it’s like to be successful tax preparers because they have experience in the field.

Reasons to Consider an Online Program

When students choose online tax education courses, like those offered by Universal Accounting, they can expect to learn via workbooks, videos, and various other reference materials. High-quality online courses are cutting edge and will include many elements of visual learning, as well as self-paced. This means you can return to materials and watch them again if needed.

Universal Accounting also offers instruction provided by experts in the tax and accounting fields. Students can expect to participate in real-world scenarios, which will help them prepare them firsthand for what it’s like working in the field.

What Happens After I’m Certified?

After certification, the next step is to receive recognition from the IRS. The first step will be an IRS preparer tax identification number, or PTIN. Registration is simple—visit the IRS website and register online for the PTIN in about 15 minutes. The application takes between four and six weeks to process. Once the number is official, certified tax preparers can use the number on forms and market themselves to clients as IRS-certified. This designation tells clients they will receive exceptional service and confidentiality and tells the IRS the tax preparer understands the complexities of their business.

In addition to the PTP and PTIN number, many tax preparers take an extra step to affiliate themselves with professional organizations. These memberships can carry weight for business owners running their firms or on resumes. Some of these include:

  • National Association of Tax Professionals
  • National Society of Tax Professionals
  • American Academy of Attorneys
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Society of Accountants
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents

These organizations are very picky with memberships and are an excellent way to show commitment to excellence in the field.

Ready to Get Licensed? Contact Us Today!

If you plan to grow in your career or start your own accounting business, certification is an essential part of the accounting and tax preparation industry. The extra step establishes credibility and trust that will far outweigh the costs.

Tax preparation will always be in demand, and Americans dreading tax season each year will appreciate a professional in their corner. Start your certification journey today. Contact Universal Accounting for more information.

How to Become a Bookkeeper: An Overview

Bookkeeping has been a critical part of our world, from the importance of record-keeping for early trading cultures along the Silk Road to helping to anthologize information throughout the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. All along the way, we have had bookkeepers manage accounts, produce reports, monitor spending, track revenue, invoice, and serve other vital organizational needs. Bookkeepers are essential.

It is important to distinguish between a bookkeeper and an accountant; bookkeepers record daily financial transactions for a business, whereas an accountant’s job is to interpret the financial transactions. As a bookkeeper, you will use software to process spreadsheets and record the entirety of the financial data.

There is a lot of appeal to becoming a bookkeeper today, especially compared to how bookkeeping has changed with the rise of technology. One of the main reasons that bookkeeping is an excellent option for a career is that you can work remotely if desired. Many companies have shifted to remote work to accommodate the global medical crisis, but there is a slim percentage of other remote full-time jobs that would provide better pay than working as a bookkeeper. Another appeal of becoming a bookkeeper is the ability to pursue a career in the world of accounting without a mandatory college education.

Education

If you’re interested in starting your career as a bookkeeper, you will need to meet some fairly typical standards for education, starting with a high school diploma or GED.  Do not be intimidated by getting your GED. No matter what your age, there are programs designed to help you succeed. Attending a university is a great experience, but most companies do not require it when hiring bookkeepers. However, an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in business administration or accounting does allow you to work for employers who expect a higher level of education.

You need to be savvy and confident in math skills and problem-solving, have thorough attention to detail, and be highly organized to be a thriving bookkeeper. There are plenty of other options in the world of information than traditional education via a college or university as long as there is a strong will to learn. If you are particularly self-motivated, you can obtain a lot of the same information through textbooks pertinent to accounting, but the cost of this literature is usually relatively high.

The more you are willing to invest in your future career, whether monetarily or temporally, the more desirable results you will find. At Universal Accounting School, you’ll have access to personalized assistance.

Training

To become a trained and well-prepared applicant, you will want to familiarize yourself with accounting software. We offer a Professional Bookkeeping certification designed in response to the increasing demand for small business bookkeepers. Using our educational content, you can become a self-taught bookkeeper in a relatively short time, depending on your schedule and how much time you are willing to put into the process. If you are willing to invest in your future within this field, starting with our Professional Bookkeeper certification course is a step in the right direction and is compacted into a few lessons. This course is designed to take three to four months, and you will be able to start looking for work after you complete the course.

If you are eager and have taken steps to prepare yourself, entry-level bookkeeping jobs are pretty ubiquitous in our society, as businesses are everywhere, and they all require the attention of bookkeepers. Many full-time starting positions will offer a training period of up to six months to get their employees up to speed on the software they use, their clientele, and other factors that contribute to their work environment.

Work Environment

There is no better training than direct experience. Although it can be intimidating to find work in the large world of business administration and accounting, many employers are willing to train individuals who are committed to becoming successful bookkeepers. Confidence, a positive attitude, and a plethora of applications will eventually land you a position with a company.

After you are hired as a bookkeeper for the first time, you should plan to stay with a company long enough to become a professional in your field. That amount of time can look very different to different people, but typically, new bookkeepers will want to spend a few years with the same company. However, this does not mean you should continue to offer your time to an employer that does not see your potential and help you reach it.

You might want to become a freelance bookkeeper, which is a common transition for many long-term professionals. This option is appealing to many because freelancers set their own rates and schedules, and have more deeply connected relationships with their clients.

As a freelance bookkeeper, you will be setting your rates and working for multiple clients simultaneously. Clients expect a range of services, including the ability to oversee payroll, solve wage and deduction management calculations, and manage accounts receivable, loss reports, and expenditure reports, so you will need to be highly organized and well-rounded in your capabilities.

Should You Become a Bookkeeper?

If this information resonates with your goals, you should not hesitate to step on to that path, doing everything in your power to succeed. You do necessarily need to commit to higher education, and the timeline for becoming a working bookkeeper is very flexible. Review the programs we offer, then contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed.

The Benefits of Online Tax Classes

When people imagine furthering their education, they likely think of classrooms where people sit at desks situated in rows and take notes while a professor lectures them. Even as the world of education constantly changes around us, there is something about the idea of a physical classroom that seems to remain ingrained in the public’s consciousness. The idea of online education may conjure up learning ideas that are subpar to face-to-face (f2f) instruction. However, nothing could be farther from reality. The truth is that online learning is a much more realistic way for many people to further their education and often has clear advantages over more traditional ways of gaining knowledge.

Education on Your Own Time

Many people looking for classes to become certified in accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, and QuickBooks already have jobs and careers. Furthermore, many have family responsibilities to raise minor children, including their extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and sporting events. When looking to further knowledge in tax and accounting fields, they will often look for local f2f classes, only to find that none of them fit into their schedule. People living a busy lifestyle often can get to their instructions only late at night or early in the morning, and this availability may change from day today.

Online tax instruction classes, such as the ones offered by Universal Accounting, open up whole new possibilities for anyone who needs their education to work around their hours of availability. Online training has opened the door of education accessibility for countless people, and people who never thought they would be able to become certified in tax preparation now can. When trying to work around a set class schedule, time restraints often dictate what classes a person can and cannot take. With virtual learning, a person has the freedom to choose the classes that are right for their own needs, not limited to rigid class schedules.

Not having to be present at a physical location means no worries about commutes or finding childcare. It never means running late or missing out on class due to unforeseen circumstances. This may be especially beneficial to people living in rural areas and those who do not live near community colleges or other learning institutions.

Online Tax Classes Means Quality Education

If you are enrolled in quality online education courses, they will include easy-to-follow videos, as well as workbooks and all necessary reference materials right at your fingertips. A common misconception is that an online course is nothing but reading a lot of text, both on the screen and in thick textbooks. If your program is a high-quality one, none of this will be true. It will include many elements of visual learning and resources you can watch again if you don’t catch it all the first time. Instruction will be given by experts in the tax and accounting fields, and you will take part in real-world scenarios that will give you experience and training that will stick with you much better than simply reading a textbook ever could. Many visual learners indeed excel in the virtual classroom versus a more traditional educational setting.

Access to the Best Mentors

Taking online tax classes means that physical location does not limit you to who can coach you and become a mentor. At Universal Accounting, this means that you will be in touch with real people who have worked in the real world and understand the subtleties of their businesses. They understand what really makes someone successful and profitable after they earn their certifications. These mentors can give their insights on successful resume writing, practice job interview skills, and give all the advice they’ve acquired during their careers. You will be matched with the person who is right for you and who understands your goals and unique needs as you navigate through a program.

Job Placement Resources

Once someone earns a certification, they may find themselves wondering what comes next. There is no use in getting trained in certain skills or certified in industry, only to find that that person has no way to profit from them or increase their quality of life. When someone has a virtual learning environment, they often have resources to find employers from all over the country looking for people with their skills. This can open up whole new job searching resources that local tax courses can’t provide to a student.

Online Classes Lead to Certifications

A common misconception about online learning is that it doesn’t translate well to the real world. The truth is, you will earn recognized and respected certifications and designations after completing courses. One example is the Profit & Growth Expert Online Program. You will learn cash-flow management and implementation strategies, robust sales techniques, and effective marketing strategies in this program. Once you pass the Profit & Growth exam, you can officially put PGE after your name. Clients will recognize that the PGE designation means you are educated in bringing businesses out of the red and into success. Another example is a course in QuickBooks that will certify you as a QuickBooks specialist when you complete it.

Many other online classes lead to real-world certifications that you can list on your resume and present to clients to demonstrate your expertise in taxes and other related fields. Employers all over the United States recognize these certifications.

Affordability

Online education may be more affordable than you think. Financing options for virtual learning are often done in installments over a longer period so that you don’t have to pay for everything upfront. Online learning often means access to virtual resources that can save hundreds of dollars you may have otherwise spent on textbooks, printing costs, and other expenses related to f2f learning.

Virtual Learning May Be the Best Choice for You

If you have ever thought that tax and accounting classes were too inaccessible, contact Universal Accounting School and take a second look at your online options. You may be surprised at the quantity and quality of classes available for you to be completed at the times you can do it.

IRS Tax Certification & IRS Tax Preparation Course: A Guide

IRS-certified tax preparation could become an integral and profitable part of your accounting business. Every citizen of the United States is legally obligated to prepare and pay taxes. What better way to expand your accounting business and your income than by offering tax preparation services certified to work with the IRS? If you are an individual accountant, tax preparation and certification services can mean an increase in your income by hundreds of dollars or more. If you are employed, becoming certified may mean a promotion and give you an edge over your competition. If you are looking for employment, having these certifications makes you much more employable, and if you are looking to start your own accounting firm, this is an effective way to gain clients. Whole businesses can be created that solely do tax preparation work.

What Is IRS Tax Certification?

Someone who is an IRS-certified tax preparer will have unlimited representation rights of their clients in the eyes of the IRS. They are certified to prepare all matters in dealing with the IRS, including the payment of taxes, navigating audits should they happen, and preparing and submitting appeals if an error happens on the part of the IRS. A certified tax preparer has the right to charge and be paid for their services.

What Makes a Successful Tax Preparer?

A person who is a successful tax preparer will be a professional and trusted individual their clients can rely on. People who hire an IRS-certified tax preparer are trusting that individual with very personal information. They trust this professional with sensitive income information, medical information from bills and insurance payments, marital information, and other information that could lead to some serious consequences if they fall into the wrong hands.

Certification is one of the most important aspects of being a successful tax preparer. When a certified tax preparer has learned from the best and has trusted educational courses listed on their resume, a potential client or employer will feel confident that this person is right for the job.

How Do I Become Certified as a Tax Preparer?

While some compensated tax preparers are not certified, this is not usually a realistic option for anyone serious about increasing their salary from this line of work. Certification is the only way to have unlimited representation rights of the people they are preparing taxes for. The way to this certification is through education, and these training courses should be listed on the IRS website as approved educational classes.

Many people don’t realize that hands-on tax preparation training can be done online from the convenience of their homes. Online certification courses can be completed during flexible hours when they are available. There is no need to decide between work and family responsibilities and furthering one’s education when quality certification courses when they have control over when and where to get the work done.

What Does a Quality Certification Program Include?

High-quality tax preparation certification courses such as the ones offered by Universal Accounting will include the latest up-to-date knowledge of current tax laws, as well as the changes in tax laws for each upcoming year. They will thoroughly familiarize the student with all state and federal tax forms and how to fill them out correctly.

However, quality certification education is not just about instruction on how to fill out tax forms. Quality instruction will guide students through real-life scenarios that they will encounter once they take on their clients. They will also familiarize students with the latest technology to aid in their success as tax preparers. It will give them real-world marketing skills to use when promoting their own business or accounting firm.

If you are enrolled in a high-quality certification program, you will be assigned to coaches who have real-world experience. Instead of sitting in a classroom trying to learn from someone out of touch, you should be guided through the education and certification process by someone who has worked in the industry and knows what it is like to be a successful and profitable tax preparer.

The best certification programs have courses that can aid someone in all aspects of the tax preparation business. This includes guidance on creating a resume that will make you stand out in the eyes of potential employers. They will have resources that help you practice and hone your interviewing skills to impress the people evaluating you during job interviews. Universal Accounting School offers resources that you can use to find the businesses in need of IRS-certified tax preparers so that you know where to go next once you earn that certification.

What Should I Expect After Being Certified?

Once you are certified as a tax preparer with IRS recognition, it will be time to get an IRS preparer tax identification number or PTIN. You can register for a PTIN on the IRS website. Once you receive your PTIN, it is official, and you can proudly put that number down on every tax form you prepare. This tells your clients that you are a trusted person who will handle their tax information with the highest professionalism and confidentiality and shows the IRS that you understand their business.

After receiving a PTIN, the next step many tax preparers take is to become members of several professional organizations. These organizations carefully vet their members, and once you qualify for membership, you can advertise those credentials. These organizations include:

  • American Academy of Attorneys
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents
  • National Association of Tax Professionals
  • National Conference of CPA Practitioners
  • National Society of Accountants
  • National Society of Tax Professionals

Is Becoming an IRS-Certified Tax Preparer Worth My Time?

Becoming a certified tax preparer is an effective way to bring in new clients to your accounting business, and it is an integral skill to have before starting your own accounting firm. Certification looks excellent on a resume and presenting a PTIN number assures clients of your credibility and professionalism. It is common for someone’s salary to increase, sometimes very much so, once they become certified. Tax season is not something many American citizens look forward to, and having a knowledgeable person to help them through makes it a better experience for everyone. Get in touch with Universal Accounting today to find out more.

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