Accountant Careers

Accountant Careers

What is an Accountant?

Accountants are professionals who perform financial functions for companies and a variety of people. They create, examine, and audit financial records, ensure accuracy of the records, prepare financial reports for companies and government, and help companies and individuals make important decisions based on their finances. Accountants also prepare and file taxes for their clients and assist them should they face an internal or external audit of their financial affairs.

As financial professionals, Accountants stay abreast of changing legislation that affects their clients and their businesses. They must abide by the ethical standards and guiding principles of the state(s) that license them.

 

What is an Accountant Responsible For?

Accountants specialize in numbers. They use financial statements and other documents to determine the fiscal health of a company, organization, or individual. They analyze profit and loss, budgets, tax returns, and other accounting records to ensure efficient operation or legal compliance.

Accountants are the financial backbone of a company or corporation. They assist executive staff to conceive company goals, make a plan for how to achieve them, and help define the steps needed to realize the goals.

Accountants assist individuals in reaching their goals, too. They provide monthly, quarterly, and annual services that help people and small businesses stay compliant with government regulations. They also review personal finances and provide advice on how to save money and when they can invest in financial activities such as purchasing homes or starting a business.

Accountants can expect to work at any of the following tasks:

  •        Examining financial statements
  •        Suggesting ways to enhance revenues, reduce costs, and increase profit
  •        Auditing companies and individuals
  •        Interacting with internal and external auditors
  •        Organizing and maintaining company financial records
  •        Improving financial efficiency
  •        Reconciling reports and discovering and correcting discrepancies
  •        Helping clients develop budgets
  •        Reviewing payroll practices; maintaining payroll data
  •        Preparing profit and loss statements
  •        Preparing monthly closing and cost accounting reports
  •        Establishing accounting control procedures
  •        Recommending or developing financial information databases
  •        Maintaining computer software and manual accounting systems
  •        Providing guidance regarding local, state, and federal tax review and payment

 

To be successful, prospective Accountants will need to develop the following skills:

  • Strong Analytical Skills. Accountants must analyze their clients’ finances within the context of legal and government regulations. They must then recommend reasonable suggestions to help their clients strengthen their financial positions or help them solve financial problems from large to small.
  •  Communication Skills. Accountants must provide financial information to their clients in a clear manner so that their clients can understand the legal and economic ramifications of their financial situation. Additionally, Accountants in larger companies and corporations often must break down complicated accounting principles to non-accounting personnel so that those individuals can do their jobs.
  • Numerical Skills. While they do not need to be mathematicians, Accountants must be confident performing common calculations.
  •  Organizational Skills. Portfolios, transactions, dates, and deadlines are all daily tasks that an Accountant must complete, track, record, and review. Keeping track of this information so that it is easily accessible and safely stored is a paramount duty of an Accountant.

 

Where Do Accountants Work?

Accountants work at small or large companies, usually in accounting departments, analyzing and preparing company financial documents and preparing tax documents. They frequently work in their own private firms, offering services to individuals and small businesses alike, assisting with taxes and budgeting. Accountants also work for government agencies, reviewing tax returns and helping their local government to stay compliant with legal regulations.

 

What Other Career Options are Available to Accountants?

A few career options available to Accountants include:

Chief Financial Officer

Accountants working as Chief Financial Officers (CFO) are responsible for directing the long-term financial goals of corporations and companies. They direct budgets and financial budgets and ensure accuracy and completeness of financial reporting. CFO’s oversee managers of financial departments, and they report to other executives on the financial health of the organization.

Financial Director

Accountants working as Financial Directors work with managers and other employees to develop financial plans. They are typically members of senior executive staff, and they develop their own procedures to determine best practices for the organization. Their operational strategies establish profitable growth for the company.

Compliance Office

Accountants working as Compliance Officers make sure the company is abiding by all relevant regulations. They ensure the company is acting ethically and legally in all its financial dealings. They communicate laws and regulations and ensure that the company meets industry and company standards. Compliance Officers require strong managerial skills as well as organization skills.

Accounting Professor

Accountants who pursue educational endeavors may find themselves working at universities as a professor. There, they teach accounting courses, perform research, and publish studies in the field of Accounting. They advise students and work closely with graduate students. Accounting Professors also teach online courses, and they serve on committees and other service roles within the university.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic Accountants specialize in areas of fraud, white-collar crime, and auditing. This profession requires knowledge of accounting, law, accounting technology, and data collection and investigative techniques. Forensic accountants analyze financial reports looking for irregularities. They design fraud protection procedures, investigate financial crimes, and testify and present evidence in court.

 

What Degree Do You Need to Become an Accountant? What Do They Study?

Accountants typically require a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, economics, or business. Some states require advanced coursework beyond the normal accounting degree in subjects such as taxes, financial reporting, auditing, and other non-accounting related business areas. One area of employment where advanced coursework is required is that of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA is an Accountant who has passed a rigorous CPA exam after meeting work experience requirements and keeping credentials updated with ongoing professional education courses to maintain certification.

While not normally required for a career as an Accountant, a Master’s of Science in Accounting or a doctorate degree is useful in executive or administrative positions and also for educational career pursuits.

 

How Much Money Does an Accountant Earn?

The salary of an Accountant may vary dependent upon the field of industry the Accountant chooses to work in and whether they work for themselves or for a large corporation. The median annual salary for an Accountant is $62,200, with CPAs earning a median salary of $72,000. Accountants in the 75th percentile can expect to earn around $90,000 annually. Chief Financial Officers working in the 10th percentile earn around $177,000 annually and those in the 90th percentile earn about $473,000 annually. As in most administrative business positions, annual salary varies depending on location, experience, and industry.