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Accountant CareersWhat is an accountant?

An accountant is a professional given the task of handling monetary transactions by recording, interpreting, and filing financial information. Most accountants have a wide range of fiscal responsibility and typically work for large businesses or organizations, as well as for individual clients or self-employed.

Accountant Responsibility & Duties

Accountants use their skills to collect, analyze, compile, and evaluate financial data. From the interpreted data, they can prepare a variety of financial statements and reports concerning daily and monthly cash flow statements, loss and profit documents, and annual financial reports for small, mid-size, and large-scale companies.

Trained accountants make sure that all fiscal transactions and financial records are following all company policies and guidelines, as well as state and national regulations and legislation. Additionally, accountants can conduct valuations for companies and internal or external audits of businesses and individuals, if necessary.

Further accountant responsibilities include:

  • Investment and tax planning
  • Forecasting and budgeting
  • Preparing income tax
  • Designing and implementing accounting systems
  • Suggesting financial recommendations

Accountants may also work in management positions and engage in other responsibilities in addition to their budgetary duties such as teaching accounting courses, scheduling, and facilitating team meetings, along with engaging in professional development opportunities.

Accountants can conduct such tasks by utilizing various personal and executive skills to ensure efficiency and effectiveness for their client or business. Competency skills for accounts are expandable and can take the forms of:

  • Organization and careful attention to detail
  • Clear and direct interpersonal traits
  • System analysis
  • Strong written and oral communication
  • Analytical and problem solving
  • Mathematical and deductive reasoning

Successful accountants normalize other attributes including continuous active learning, sharp critical thinking skills, as well as negotiations and time management.

Accuracy of financial documents and their compliance with relevant laws is the core attribute of an accountant’s responsibilities, while their other duties ensure effective service on behalf of the client, company, or organization.

Where do accountants work?

Accounts generally work in office settings of companies and corporations during normal business hours. In addition to office settings, accountants may choose to take stake in their skills and experience to become self-employed to create and grow a private accountant business.

Based on the type of accountant specialization, accountants can work for law enforcement agencies, government agencies, private corporations, non-profit organizations, or even educational institutes.

The largest employers of accountants are as follows:

  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services
  • Finance and insurance companies
  • Management companies and enterprises

Overtime is typical for accountants due to quarterly audits or during tax season. Some accountants may take on the role of traveling to their client’s professional place of business or personal homes to conduct financial services.

Types of Accountants

“Accountant” is a broad term to describe a professional that engages in fiscal ministries, and there are diverse types of accountant jobs that encompass this central executive feature. The most sought-after accountant job is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

A CPA is a trusted, upper-level accountant deemed as an expert in organizing accounting records, taxes, individual or corporate financial standings, and advising entities on the best financial solutions.

Forensic accountants are known for analyzing financial records to ensure compliance within state and federal law. They uncover errors, omissions, or fraudulent behavior. Forensic accountants often work in either investigation or litigation support at the city, state, or federal level.

Auditors are accountants that specialize in accuracy of fiscal records for commercial businesses and non-profit organizations. They are tasked with examining financial statements, organizing, and assessing numbers and operations, and inspecting account books and systems.

Other types of accountant jobs include:

  • Management accountant
  • Government accountant
  • Cost accountant
  • Project accountant
  • Investment accountant
  • Staff accountant

Accountant Education and Licensure Requirements

To become an accountant, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is necessary. Some employers are prone to hiring applicants who have a master’s degree in either accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Universities and colleges offer specialized programs within a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the forms of:

  • Tax accounting
  • Internal auditing
  • Forensic accounting

In few cases, those who obtain a singular associate degree related to accounting such as auditing clerk or bookkeeping, in connection to relevant work experience requirements, can obtain a junior accounting position. Much of this practical experience can be obtained through public accounting or business firm internships.

The major license necessary to become an accountant is a Certified Public Account license. CPA license candidates obtain the credential from their state’s Board of Accountancy, and they are required to pass the CPA Examination within 18 months.

Other certifications that can be obtained for professional advancement are Accredited in Business Valuation, Personal Financial Specialist, and Certified Financial Forensics.

How much do accountants earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for accountants is $73,500. The lower 10% earned about $45,220 while the highest 10% earned approximately $128,500. The highest pay is earned by those who worked with finance and insurance companies and the lowest working for government agencies.

Accountant jobs are most abundant on the eastern coast of the U.S., with annual salaries being higher for those who work in the northeastern region. Within the region, the District of Columbia and New York are the highest paying locations for accountants.

Accountant Job Outlook

Employment for accountants is projected to grow approximately 7% within the next decade, matching the average growth of other occupational industries. On average, 13,500 jobs are created each month due to a growing economy, globalization, and a strong demand for accountants capable of servicing within a multiplex regulatory environment.

Further growth of accountant jobs is in connection to the overall health of the state’s economy, which is why accountants are necessary to keep track of financial records and manage the legalities that come with it.

Alternate careers

Different jobs within the financial field are available and require a certain level of education, credentials, and experience for entering. Other jobs related to accounting include:

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