Accountants and auditors are usually considered nothing more than math geeks, sitting in dark cubicles, listing endless, numbing numbers.
However, although accountants do need to have solid mathematical skills, the job is much more than that. Accounting today is a combination of analysis, problem solving and detective work; to do a good job, you must be able to communicate effectively and deal with people, not just numbers. Therefore, the tasks of this work are much more diverse than many people think. In addition, the demand for accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 18% from 2006 to 2016, which is much faster than the average of all occupations in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
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Do you think that accounting or auditing is something you want to consider? Read on to learn more about what this job means and how to get into it. (For the history of the accounting profession, check out The rise of modern bean counters.)
Daily Grind accountants and auditors work for companies, individual clients, and the government to ensure that the company operates efficiently, keeps accurate records, and pays taxes. Accountants can also analyze budgets and provide some financial planning services as well as information technology consulting and limited legal services.
There are four main areas of accounting and auditing. The type of work these professionals do depends in part on the field of work they choose:
- Management accountant -Management accountants tend to work for the company as part of a team. They provide company executives with the information and analysis needed for decision-making. Executives also use this information to prepare financial reports for distribution to shareholders, creditors, regulators, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Government accountant/auditor -Accountants are employed by federal, state, and local governments for various reasons. They do accounting books for government agencies and companies and individuals that need to comply with government regulations or pay taxes. Accountants working for the federal government may be employed by the IRS and may be responsible for auditing branches of government organizations to ensure that financial goals are achieved.
- Public accountant -This is one of the most extensive areas of accounting because public accountants provide accounting, taxation, auditing and consulting services to governments, companies, non-profit organizations and individuals. Many public accountants are certified public accountants (CPA), but they may focus on a few services, such as corporate and personal tax preparation or auditing financial statements. (For related reading about this profession, please refer to CPA, CFA or CFP-choose abbreviations carefully.)
- Internal auditor -The internal auditor acts as a detective. They are committed to checking the internal controls of the organization and trying to identify and prevent inaccuracies, mismanagement and fraud.
Accounting tends to be a typical 9 to 5 office job, although longer working hours are common during busy periods (such as tax time). According to BLS statistics in 2006, approximately 21% of accountants work in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll service companies; 10% are self-employed; and the rest are private companies and the government.
A unique career path If you are looking for a more unique career path, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides some exciting suggestions:
- Forensic accounting -Exposing financial fraud and putting the perpetrators in jail is a day’s work for forensic accountants. The company loses billions of dollars due to fraud each year, making the industry one of the fastest-growing industries. (To learn about high-profile financial fraud cases, see The ghouls and monsters of Wall Street.)
- Environmental Accounting -As the green movement develops in companies, environmental accountants need to analyze the cost of pollution prevention in manufacturing and compare them with other alternatives, including missed tax credits, fines, and bad relationships with neighbors. (For more information on this, please see the Green Investment Function.)
- Performing Arts Accounting -If you are lucky, you may end up providing financial services for studios, production companies, artists, and technicians. This job will involve traditional fields such as taxation, auditing, and financial analysis, but working in Hollywood can add to the charm some people seek.
- Bankruptcy trustee -These accountants are appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice in bankruptcy court proceedings. They are appointed in all Chapter 7, 12, and 13 bankruptcy cases to ensure that unsecured creditors (such as shareholders of a company) are represented so that they can receive part of the proceeds of the company’s liquidation, if there are any remaining. (To learn how they performed an autopsy on a failed company, see Corporate Bankruptcy Overview.)
On the road. If you want to become an accountant, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related fields is usually a must, although the diplomas offered by junior colleges and business correspondence schools may allow graduates to become junior accountants and eventually develop with experience. Progress.
In order to submit any report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an accountant must become a certified public accountant. This can be achieved by meeting the requirements of your state and passing difficult national exams. Almost all states require CPA candidates to have a college degree and an additional 30 hours of college courses. Therefore, accounting students should understand the requirements for CPA candidates in their state and ensure that they complete the correct college hours as much as possible.
The four-part CPA exam prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is very difficult. According to BLS data, less than 50% of people who took the exam passed all four parts on their first attempt.
Accountants can also improve their skills by obtaining other certifications, such as Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Information System Auditor (CISA), Certified Commercial Accountant (ABA), or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designations (and perhaps Their salary). Several others. These more specific certifications can be obtained as a supplement or alternative to the qualifications of certified public accountants, and can provide graduates with an advantage in the job market. (To learn about these and other certifications, see Alphabet soup of financial certification and Financial names are not born equal.)
Show Me the Money According to BLS statistics in 2006, the median annual income of accountants in 2006 was US$54,630; the top 10% earned more than US$94,000, while the lowest 10% earned less than US$34,000. Where you fall will depend on the state you work in, your experience and credentials, and the type of work you choose. (For the latest wage statistics, please refer to the Occupation and Employment Statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Do you need anything? Accounting doesn’t just deal with numbers, but geek accountants who do nothing but tap on the adding machine are actually a thing of the past. Nowadays, accounting is very focused on the team. In your first job, you might start with a junior member of a team, such as preparing financial statements, or auditing financial statements for specific accounts or clients. If you are a public accountant, you may also spend a lot of time face-to-face with clients to provide personalized solutions to their unique tax and accounting problems. The ability to communicate and cooperate with others is a must.
You may not need to be a math master, but if you are not very proficient with computers, then accounting is not for you. Most of your work will be done electronically, and the company has been implementing new electronic systems to submit and prepare financial statements.
If you have a laid-back personality and easily let things slip, please stay away from this profession! Accountants must be conscientious and should be perfectionist. After all, you may make a decision worth millions of dollars, and if your conclusion is not 100% accurate, it may have a very serious impact.
Conclusion Accounting is a diversified profession, and there are almost no limitless choices. If you have a range of skills suitable for the job, you can find a way to use them that suits your taste, personal strengths and personality.
To understand what a client might be looking for in an accountant, read Find the key figures for the ideal accountant.