What Math Do You Need for Accounting?

Understanding and enjoying math principles such as statistics and basic math is important for success.
Understanding and enjoying math principles such as statistics and basic math is important for success. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

When considering a career as an accountant, proficiency in mathematics is certainly a skill you need to possess and it doesn't hurt to have a love of numbers too. You’ll need to be proficient in basic math skills as well as have knowledge of disciplines such as algebra and statistics. You’ll also need to understand such concepts as economics and computer use.

Basic Math

A working knowledge of basic math is the primary skill you will need as you embark on a career in accounting. According to Worthy and James Publishing, basic math skills necessary to succeed in the field of accounting include the fundamentals of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers and fractions, operations involving decimals and rounding, percentages and the skill of applying ratios and averages. These rudimentary skills are the foundation for most accounting operations.


Algebra is another mathematical discipline you must be proficient in as you embark on your accounting career. As an accountant you will be developing mathematical equations that will break down into simple and complex numbers. You will need to understand how to solve equations using variable and constant numbers, especially if you will be asked to forecast or predict future revenue or budgeting needs. Algebra can be a difficult mathematical discipline to master, but having a good working knowledge will assist you as you strive to become an effective accountant.


While you will not be asked to master all the levels of calculus, according to GoAccountingSchool.com, as an accounting major you will be exposed to calculus along the way toward earning an accounting degree. You will be exposed to such topics as derivates, which help find the rate of change between one thing and another, as well as integration, the opposite of derivates, which helps find the original relationship between two quantities or objects.


In accounting statistics is used in a variety of ways including how to show ratios and plot and forecast trends. The study of statistics involves learning how to spot probabilities of distribution, what is likely to happen, and show what has already happened. This type of mathematics often is demonstrated in curves such as the bell curve, for instance, or in graphs, tables and charts.

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