• Tips & Tricks

Do Accountants Work Weekends and Long Hours?

A lady accountant studying an accounting ledger

Source: Pexels.com

Pursuing a career as an accountant could be one of the best ways to invest in your education. 

There are different accounting careers you can pursue. As an account, you can also specialize in a specific area, such as bookkeeping, payroll services, consulting, and taxes.  

You can work in different industries, and the demand for accounting jobs is very consistent. Every business and organization needs an accountant to oversee its finances.

Still, working in accounting does have its drawbacks. The work can be stressful, especially during the busy tax season. So does that mean weekend work and long days are the norms among accountants?

To learn more about the typical working hours for an accountant and whether an accounting degree is worth it, keep reading to find out.

What Does an Accountant Do?

Accountants keep and interpret financial records by handling a wide range of finance-related tasks, either for larger organizations or businesses employing them or for individual clients. 

Accountants work with clients or businesses to make recommendations about financial processes, including investing, allocating funds, and other processes. 

In the business setting, accountants organize the company’s financial data and counsel business people, or the management on different aspects of the financial health of their organization.

[Related Post: Do Accountants Like Their Jobs?]

Types of Accountants

Although the core of each accounting field is the same, the specifics can vary.  

Here are the different types of accountants:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Management Accountant (including “staff” and “cost” accountant)
  • Chartered Accountant (CA)
  • Project Accountant
  • Financial Advisor
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Social Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Government Accountant
  • Tax Examiner
  • Investment Accountant

Accountant Duties and Responsibilities

Depending on an accountant’s field of specialty and position within a company, they may perform any of the following accounting duties and responsibilities:

  • Ensure the accuracy of financial documents and their compliance with laws and regulations
  • Preparing and maintaining financial reports
  • Evaluating financial operations to identify issues, recommend best practices, help organizations run efficiently, and strategize solutions
  • Preparing tax returns and making sure that taxes are paid on time and properly
  • Conducting risk analysis assessments and making a financial forecast

Additionally, accountants have the legal obligation to avoid negligence and act honestly in their practices. They are responsible for ensuring that their clients’ or employers’ financial records are compliant with the pertinent laws and regulations.

[Related: Controller vs. Accountant – What are the Main Differences?]

So, Do Accountants Work Weekends and Long Hours?

A blurred person walking through a modern, minimalist office of chairs and desks.Source: Unsplash

The working hours of an accountant depend on different factors such as the company, the workload needed to be done, how adequately staffed the company is, the non-negotiable reporting deadlines, and the management’s expectations.

Generally, accountants have reasonable working hours of 40 hours per week and 50 hours per week during tax season. They may also work long hours for a few days if they have to close the previous month.

The month-end close deserves an accountant’s attention because they are doing a complete review of the financial performance and activity for that entire month. 

This also means that they need to be confident that the financial record for that month is unlikely to change in the future. The data they are often “closing” includes balance sheets, recurring journal entries, intercompany trade, and a checklist.

Going back to the question of accountants working weekends: the answer is Maybe

It depends on the company, the country or state they’re in, or the type of accountant. Nowadays, many accounting jobs are 9 am to 5 pm by contract and dedicate only extra time at weekends when needed. This makes a good work/life balance possible.

Typical Working Hours for an Accountant

Fixed-hour schedules

Fixed hour work schedules operate at specific times of the workday. Most businesses operate between 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, which is the typical schedule for an accountant. 

Many accountants have schedules like this: the traditional 4-hour workweek. However, if an accountant specializes in a sub-field (like corporate tax preparation or forensic accounting), they may occasionally work longer than 40 hours per week.

What months are the busy season for accountants?

Busy season dates are typically from January to March, although the actual tax season for accountants extends up to April 15.

Contract hours

Some accounts are independent contractors, so they create schedules based on their individual preferences.

For example, they may choose to work only during the annual income tax season. So, their working hours may be fewer than the traditional 40-hour workweek. 

Independent and tax accountants tend to work with greater flexibility than other types of accountants. 

[Related: How to Get More Accounting Clients – 5 Effective Strategies]

Overtime hours

Overtime is not uncommon among accountants, especially when helping people with their income tax returns. Public accountants may work up to 50 to 60 hours per week in the annual tax season. However, the extra hours beyond the usual 40 hours are considered overtime. Do accounts get paid more for working the weekend?

Yes, if it is written on the employment agreement. Accountants who work under contract to companies charge by the quarter-hour, or how much they earn depends on how long they work.

Annual tax season

An old fashioned alarm clock with the words " Tax Time" in block letters

Source: Pexels

An accountant’s schedule can be busy during the annual tax season as clients are filing and preparing their tax returns. Corporate accountants may even work longer hours each quarter because their companies need to prepare and file quarterly financial reports to the Internal Revenue Service, for instance, if they’re in the US.

What is tax season like for accountants?

Tax season can be a stressful time for accounting professionals. They must work longer hours to meet deadlines while observing client confidentiality. They must also be detailed-oriented, organized, and prepared for anything that may happen during the tax season. They have to know the tax laws inside out and be ready to handle any potential issues that may arise.

No wonder why many aspiring accountants are going to experience a disturbance in their healthy work-life balance and are going to lose sleep till the end of the tax season. It may need years of experience to get used to the tax season.

Major tax filing deadlines in 2022

Deadlines for filing taxes usually fall within the same date or a general range. Below are some of the important tax filing dates in the US that you need to know about:

  • January 18, 2022 – Deadline to pay the fourth quarter estimated tax payment for the last tax year.
  • February 15, 2022 – Deadline for financial institutions to mail Form 1099-B that relates to sales of stock, mutual funds,  or brings through a brokerage account and Form 1099-S for those relating to real-estate financial transactions.
  • April 18, 2022 – All individuals must file their tax returns for 2021. If you haven’t applied for an extension, postmark or e-file your tax returns by midnight. April 18 is also the due date for the Individual Tax Return Extension Form for Tax Year 2021. If you live in Massachusetts or Maine, the deadline for filing for 2021 personal returns is the following day, April 19, 2022.
  • June 15, 2022 – This is the deadline for the second-quarter 2022 estimated tax payment due. If you have other income or are self-employed that require you to pay quarterly estimated taxes, make sure your payment will be postmarked by this date.

Deadlines for US citizens living abroad to file individual tax returns. This same date is the deadline to file an automatic four-month extension or Form 4868:

  • September 15, 2022 – Deadline for the third-quarter estimated tax payments for the 2021 tax year. This is also the final deadline to file S-corporate and partnership tax returns for the tax year 2021 if an extension was requested (Forms 1120-S and 1065).
  • October 17, 2022 – Final extended deadline (if requested) to file corporate and individual tax returns for the year 2021 using Form 1120 and 1040. October 17, 2022, is also the deadline for eligible taxpayers who earned 73,000 or less in AGI (adjusted gross income) for the 2021 tax year.
  • December 15, 2022 – Deadline for corporations that need to file their fourth installment of 2022 estimated income tax.
  • January 15, 2023 – Deadline for fourth-quarter 2022 estimated tax payment

How to Cope Long Accounting Working Hours

Tip #1: Nurture Your Body and Brain for Better Accounting Practice

When doing regular work hours, accountants may be able to get the basic things right, such as stable nutrition, exercise, and sound sleep. But during a stressful tax season that lasts for about three and a half months, self-care is often neglected.

So the first tip is to be attentive to your health. Stretch your muscles or take a mental break from time to time. You may also have to set a notification to eat. Things like these don’t seem crazy during the busy tax season.

Tip #2: Get a Head Start on Your Day

If feasible, begin your day early to jumpstart on all the other work you need to finish. You may also plan your day based on your natural rhythm. For example, if you get tired in the afternoon, take a nap, do a workout, or have a snack to give your mind time to recover from your workload.

Tip #3: Balance Work and Personal Life

Explain to your family or friends that the tax season will demand more of your time, and you are not ignoring them. Instead, you may need more understanding, care, and attention from those closest to you.

Tip #4: Use Technology/ Automate Accounting

Technology is a great enabler in the accounting industry. Because of it, accounting professionals need not be chained to their office desks. Some can even work flexible hours, either at home or other locations where they feel the most productive.

Using Accounting Tools to Keep Organized

Accounting software, such as Envoice, is becoming increasingly influential in the field of accounting. A recent survey even shows that accountants and bookkeepers spend roughly 86% of their time that can be automated.

This doesn’t mean accountants will be replaced by AI. Rather, the increased use of accounting tools means that accountants can focus more on meaningful analysis and less time on tasks like data entry. This will also help them balance work and personal life, even during a busy accounting season.

How to Choose the Right Accounting Software

Lady accountant standing in front of shelves filled with accounting files

Source: Unsplash

Here are the factors to consider when choosing the right accounting software for your business: 

Usability

How many users will access the accounting tool once purchased? Would you prefer desktop software or a cloud-based system that you can access anywhere? What capabilities do you need the tool to have? Do you need your accounting tool to have a mobile app?

Cost

Do you need only a basic accounting program, or do you prefer to invest in a tool or app that costs more but has additional valuable features?

Features

What features do you need the accounting software to have? Which accounting reports does your company need to generate? Some essential features you’ll need in accounting software are financial forecasting, bank reconciliation, billing and invoicing management, purchase and sales management, financial reporting, and asset management.

Is Being an Accountant For Me?

Now that you’ve got a better grasp of an accountant’s duties and responsibilities and their typical working hours, take time to evaluate whether this career is for you. 

Try to honestly assess your personality and attitude toward heavy workloads and pressure. But overall, if you enjoy working with numbers, are organized, and are detail-oriented, then an accounting career may be right for you.

Looking for smart accounting software to automate your tasks? Check out Envoice and find out why it’s loved by accountants and companies all over the world!