Accounting School Guide https://www.accountingschoolguide.com A Guide For Earning Your Accounting Degree Sun, 01 Oct 2017 22:41:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 A Small Business and Internet User’s Guide to Cyber Security Threats [Infographic] https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/a-small-business-and-internet-users-guide-to-cyber-security-threats-infographic/ Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:36:38 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=740 We recently found this outstanding graphic on CyberSecurityDegrees.com which highlights one of the many ways in which risk management and successful accounting relies on common sense and ‘street smarts’ (well, internet street smarts). No matter your accounting acumen, losing valuable financial information through one of the many ways in which hackers target valuable financial information can undo any gains made by quality accounting.

A Small Business and Internet User's Guide to Cyber Attacks [Infographic]
Source: CyberSecurityDegrees.com

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What is the difference between a Finance and Accounting Degree? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-finance-and-accounting-degree/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 17:53:51 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=701 Suppose you’ve always been good with numbers and the have the kind of ordered, analytical mind that lends itself to precise details. Plus, you’re adept at statistics and data mining. Logically then, as you begin researching your post-secondary school career options, you might consider degrees in finance or accounting, two similar and yet vastly different occupational fields.

Actually, you’ll find that as you begin your search it’s best to take an overview of all your options. At the earliest stages of study, a student seeking a degree in finance or in accounting takes the same required introductory courses, but while there are many similarities between the two specialties, they are two distinctly separate disciplines with vastly different coursework offered during your post graduate years.

The main difference between the two disciplines is that those who work in finance typically focus on planning and directing the financial transactions for an organization, while those who work in accounting focus on recording and reporting on those transactions. Accounting is the organization and management of financial information; finance is the management of money.

So the coursework in undergraduate school, after basic requirements, point students in different directions. The concentration for a finance degree is more mathematics-intensive and focused on financial markets, portfolio and investment management theory, financial management, investments and security analysis and valuation. Courses for finance degrees are often more evaluative and analytical than accounting courses.

An Accounting Career

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job description, accountants prepare and examine either a corporation’s finances or someone’s personal finances. Accountants manage the general ledger and cash flow. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. The job outlook, as projected from 2014 through 2024, shows an 11 percent increase. The median salary is $69,150 a year, according to the BLS 2016 figures.

Careers include: auditors, bookkeepers, accounts receivable clerks, accounts payable clerks, treasurers and tax accountants.

How to Get There from here: Degree Options in Accounting:

A certificate in Accounting is a good idea for those folks wanting to learn basic accounting concepts, like bookkeeping. How do you get such a certificate? 10 courses usually are sufficient to satisfy the requirements.

For those interested in an associates degree in accounting there are many quality online options. With this type of degree, graduates can land bookkeeper and accounting clerk jobs. While it’s limited in terms of opportunities, students that graduate can move easily into a bachelor’s degree. The average time of completion for an associates degree in accounting is two years.

Many universities have business schools that offer bachelors degree programs that include coursework in accounting and business strategy. With a bachelors degree in accounting, graduates are qualified for auditing, financial planning, consulting and technical accounting jobs.
Earning a master’s degree in accounting will require an extra year beyond a bachelors degree, but the increase in your earning power will be well worth the effort. With a concentration in tax accounting or auditing, your path to higher paying positions in the accounting field will be secure.

After earning a masters degree in accounting, some students might want to take the next step forward and earn a PhD. Know that this will require years of additional study but it does open you up to additional opportunities, such as work as budget analysts, accountant management and other types of managerial jobs.

A career in high finance

How to Get There from here: Degree Options in Finance

You’ll need a bachelors degree in business to embark upon a career in financing. Finance is a wide open field that can range from corporate finance to personal financial planning. Someone with a masters degree in finance can find lucrative work as an investment banker, financial broker, or planner.

According to the BLS, job growth over a 10 year period from 2014-2024 is 16%. The average median salary for someone with a bachelors degree with a concentration in finance is $69,184. Depending on your career goals, however, compensation can be considerably higher than that, according to the BLS. For example, a financial analyst with “just” a bachelor’s degree (entry level) can expect to earn on average, more than $81,000 a year. Check out the BLS page on financial careers for more information.

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What Can I Do With a Masters in Taxation? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/what-can-i-do-with-a-masters-in-taxation/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 20:59:43 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=695 General Introduction

While no one disputes that it is a great accomplishment for undergraduates to have earned an online accounting degree with a concentration on taxation, the complexity of today’s tax code plus the uncertainty of the new administration’s attempts to alter the tax code, make your intention to pursue an online masters in taxation a wise decision.

As you know, tax laws are in flux. The tax world is changing. What used to be the basic job of someone with an accounting degree specializing in taxation: turning financial statements into tax statements and inserting numbers into forms, are now largely mechanized functions done through computer programs.
So, is it really worthwhile to get a master’s degree in taxation? Judging by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the answer is a resounding yes. But be aware that job outlook projections by the BLS vary according to the field you enter with your masters degree. And, of course, the location and pay structure of the company will be factors in pay compensaton.

Note: It doesn’t seem to matter if the degree is earned attending the school campus, or as is increasingly the case, an online degree. Just make sure the school is accredited.

Having a masters degree in taxation increases your value to a company. You’ll be valued for your ability to help with acquisitions, save companies money, and strategize for global expansion. Think of yourself as more of a business partner. And your job prospects, and compensation potential after getting that online masters in taxation are evidence of a good return on your investment of time and money.
Taxation professionals work with individuals, small businesses, nonprofits or corporations. Many are employed as certified public accountants, financial advisers and chief financial officers. All of these skills are part of your preparation for taxation careers, and key components (you should seek) as you look for the best online accounting degree with a concentration in taxation.
What follows are career paths someone with a masters degree in taxation can take.

Potential Job Roles for Masters in Taxation Holders

Certified Public Accountant: Besides preparing individual taxes, CPAs often advise clients on issues related to their taxes and income. A master’s degree in taxation is not required for this position, but there is a requirement that most states impose of having 150 credits of college coursework to be eligible for the Uniform CPA Exam, through which states license certified public accountants. According to the BLS, job prospects for accountants and auditors are expected to increase 11% between 2014 and 2024. The latest data on salaries, 2016, shows a median salary of $68,150.

Financial Adviser: Will assess the financial needs of individuals, corporations or nonprofits. Advisers help their clients plan for both long-term and short-term goals, including education expenses, retirement plans, budgeting and general investments. The BLS projects that financial advisers will see a 30% uptick in job opportunities from 2014-2024, probably due to millennials now starting to accrue wealth. Financial advisers earned median salaries of $123,100 in 2016. For personal financial advisors, the average median salary (2014) is $81,060.

Chief Financial Officer: A path to the C-suite. Ultimately, having a masters in taxation is the foundation needed to become a chief financial officer. The CFO is responsible for the finances of a corporation. Job responsibilities include reviewing financial risks, creating business plans and keeping financial records. The CFO may analyze the financial data within a company and report his or her findings to the company’s board of directors and CEOs. According to PayScale.com, the median salary among CFOs was $ $121,942 as of January 2016.

Overall, looking at the BLS and websites such as Study.com, you’ll notice a trend: a demand for new tax practitioners regularly exceeds the number of students available for placement, particularly for the Big Four accounting firms. There simply aren’t enough tax people to go around. So be diligent, take your time, and be smart in your choice of schools offering a masters in taxation.

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How do I Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-certified-public-accountant-cpa/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:51:00 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=690 General Introduction

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) help people with a range of financial needs, from the taxation and audit of private persons, to the collection and forensic investigation of governmental organizations and public corporations. With laws and statutes that govern the financial responsibilities of private citizens, companies, and public organizations in a constant state of flux, today’s CPA needs to have a keen sense of the need to adapt to an ever-changing profession. This is especially true when economic and tax reform are being discussed at the highest levels of governance. In times like these, Certified Public Accountants will be in high demand, because they are some of the most qualified professionals to not only ensure that their clients comply with changes to the old system, but also to advise the movers, shakers, and decision-makers developing a new one.

So the future is bright for anyone who aspires to become a Certified Public Accountant, a career path for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% job growth between 2014-2024. Jobs await them in literally every industry, because every industry has companies and organizations, and every organization or company has costs that a CPA can work to reduce or improve. And because the work of a CPA is never finished—that is, because their work is highly specialized and personalized, not to mention dependant upon human variables such as client needs and financial laws that change regularly —it is unlikely the profession will be hurt badly by automation, something which is an unfortunate possibility for accounting jobs that don’t require as much specialization or human interaction as the CPA.

Salary Information

The median salary for those who go on to earn their Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is $73,800, according to a leading authority for helping CPAs pass their qualifying exam. Other leading authorities, such as PayScale stake the median salary of their CPAs at $62,660, a number based on 3,646 individuals reporting throughout the United States. Still others, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, report a median salary of $68,150, but specifically for CPAs with the job title of Accountant or Auditor. As with all professions, the amount an individual with the requisite qualifications will make is contingent upon a number of variables, location, experience, and job title chief among them. However, it should be noted that on the high end of all CPA salary reports (i.e., the top 25%), most salaries reported are well-above the $100,000 mark.

Skillsets

In order to perform their jobs on a most basic level, Certified Public Accountants need to have mastered the essential skillsets of mathematics, organization, planning, and personal and public finance. Because CPAs work within the service industry known as “assurance services,” they generally have the goal of providing specialized financial information to key decision-makers in order to assure they make the most informed decisions regarding their finances. That also means CPAs should have good people skills, since they will very likely be interacting with the clients whom they serve on a regular basis.

On a more technical level, CPAs should also be comfortable with the most common accounting software used in the industry, such as QuickBooks and Sage, as well as be aware of new paperless technology trends in the profession, such as cloud-based accounting, providing online forms to clients, and asking for e-signatures. In other words, instead of worrying about being replaced by technology, today’s CPA should be working to master it.

And now for the intangibles. There are certain character traits a CPA should have that are difficult to find and replace, such as the ability to keep a secret under any circumstances in order to protect client confidentiality, as well as the desire to learn something new every day to remain both certified and in compliance with the law. CPAs should also have a high degree of patience for sifting through clients’ sometimes poorly kept financial records, as well as for dealing with the often lengthy process of submitting and receiving approval from various governmental bureaus.

Job Description

The job description of a Certified Public Accountant will vary depending on area of finance in which they’d like to specialize. Some of the most common areas of specialization for CPAs are tax accounting, audit accounting, and forensic accounting, areas which, if chosen during a degree program that is ultimately completed, can earn them public sector jobs with governmental organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But most CPAs also work more generally and in the private sector as consultants and corporate executives, such as Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Financial Planners (CFPs).

But speaking in the broadest possible terms, every CPA will be expected to carry out the responsibility of ensuring that the organization or individual for which they work is avoiding bankruptcy, complying with the laws that govern its finances, maximizing revenue from all its sources of income, and filing reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Necessary Education and Experience

In order to become a CPA who can file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, prospective accounting professionals should strive to accomplish the following three goals:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree and 150 credit hours (or the equivalent) from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Sit for and pass the Uniform CPA Exam in the state you’d like to be licensed.
  • Gain work experience as a certified accountant

Most states ask the accountants they certify to have two years’ work experience in order to be considered licensed after they pass the Uniform CPA Exam. This work experience should also be verified by someone who is already a licensed CPA. Certified Public Accountants should also plan to take part in and complete continuing professional education courses on a regular basis in order to maintain their licensure.

Helpful Resources

You can start your journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) through a number of bachelor’s degree programs, all of which offer preparation to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. There are also a number of associate’s degree programs, whose extra credit hours will help to better situate the prospective CPA as they work to satisfy all 150 hours they need to sit for the exam.

For an overall perspective of accounting, as well as your educational path to success in this field, see our Accounting FAQ Section. On our homepage, you’ll also find features and infographics on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes, and other topics relevant to CPAs and the accounting profession.

If you want to go all the way to ensure you get your CPA license, see our ranking of the best master’s degrees in accounting to maximize your likelihood of both sitting for and passing the Uniform CPA Exam.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most important professional organizations for CPAs to become familiar with, as well as a directory to find the degree program that best suits your accounting career goals:

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How do I become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-certified-financial-planner-cfp/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:40:41 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=687 General Introduction

Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) help people with a range of financial services, from large-scale financial advisement as investment bankers, stock brokers, and Chief Financial Officers, to small-scale personal financial planning as retirement counselors, insurance managers, and estate planners. With laws and statutes that govern the financial responsibilities of private citizens, companies, and public organizations in a constant state of flux, today’s CFP needs to have a keen sense of their need to adapt to an ever-changing profession. This is especially true when economic and financial reform are being discussed at the highest levels of governance. In times like these, Certified Financial Planners will be in high demand, because they are some of the most qualified professionals to not only ensure that clients are meeting their financial goals as changes occur to the old system, but also that the movers, shakers, and decision-makers are developing a new system that takes their clients into consideration.

So the future is bright for anyone who aspires to become a Certified Financial Planner, a career path for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 30% job growth between 2014-2024. Jobs await them in literally every industry, because every industry has companies and organizations, and every organization or company has investment strategies that a CFP can work to improve. And because the work of a CFP is never finished—that is, because a Certified Financial Planner’s work is highly specialized and personalized, not to mention dependant upon human variables such as client needs and financial laws that change regularly—it is unlikely the profession will be hurt badly by automation, something which is an unfortunate possibility for financial jobs that don’t require as much specialization or human interaction as the CFP.

Salary Information

According to a lead authority on investment planning, the median salary for individuals who earn their Certified Financial Planning (CFP) license is above average, not to mention a contributing factor to the high job satisfaction reported by Certified Financial Planners. Other leading authorities, such as PayScale stake the median salary of their CFPs at $66,348, a number based on 731 individuals reporting throughout the United States. Still others, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, report a median salary of $90,530, but specifically for CFPs with the job title of Personal Financial Advisor. As with all professions, the amount an individual with the requisite qualifications will make depends upon a number of variables, including geographic location, job title, and years of experience. However, it should be noted that on the high end of all CFP salary reports (i.e., the top 25%), most salaries reported are well-above the $100,000 mark.

Skillset

In order to perform their jobs on a day-to-day basis, Certified Financial Planners need to have mastered basic skillsets in mathematics, organization, planning, and personal and public finance. Because CFPs work within the service industry known as “assurance services,” they generally have the goal of providing specialized financial information to key decision-makers in order to assure they make the most informed decisions regarding their finances. That also means CFPs should have good people skills, since they will very likely be interacting with the clients whom they serve on a regular basis.

On a more technical level, CFPs should also be comfortable with the most common financial advising software used in the industry, such as MoneyGuidePro, NaviPlan Select, and Money Tree, as well as be aware of new paperless trends in the profession, such as using cloud-based financial planning software, providing online forms to clients, and asking for e-signatures. In other words, rather than worrying about being replaced by technology, today’s CFP should be working to master it.

And now for the intangibles. There are certain character traits a CFP should have that are difficult to find and replace, such as the ability to keep a secret under any circumstances in order to protect client confidentiality, as well as the desire to learn something new every day to remain both certified and in compliance with the law. CFPs should also have a high degree of patience for sifting through clients’ sometimes poorly kept financial records, as well as for dealing with the legal hurdles to wealth protection in the most ethical way possible.

Job Description

The job description of a Certified Financial Planner will vary depending on area of finance in which they’d like to specialize. Some of the most common areas of specialization for CFPs are investment planning, risk management and insurance planning, retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning, and cash flow and liability management, areas which, if chosen during a degree program that is ultimately completed, can earn them private sector jobs with mutual companies, insurance companies, and big banks. But many CFPs also work for themselves and with individual clients as personal financial and family planners.

But speaking in the broadest possible terms, every CFP will be expected to carry out the responsibility of ensuring that the organization or individual for which they work is taking steps to avoid bankruptcy, protect its investments, comply with the laws that govern its finances, and maximize revenue from all its sources of income.

Necessary Education and Experience

In order to become an authorized CFP who can use the designation in their job title, prospective financial planners should strive to accomplish the following four goals:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Sit for and pass the CFP Board Certification Examination.
  • Gain work experience as a certified financial planner
  • Demonstrate adherence to the CFP Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, as well as the Financial Planning Practice Standards.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) ask the CFPs they certify upon examination to have three years’ full-time work experience in one or more of 6 areas: Establishing and Defining the Client Relationship, Gathering Client Data and Goals, Analyzing and Evaluating the Client’s Financial Status, Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and Alternatives, Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations, and Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations.

In addition, two years of full-time work experience as an apprentice, while under the supervision of an authorized CFP professional, and a focus on practicing within all six of these areas of financial planning may also be accepted in order for prospective CFPs to be authorized after they pass the CFP Exam. Certified Financial Plannerants should also plan to take part in and complete continuing education courses on a regular basis in order to maintain their licensure.

Helpful Resources

You can start your journey to become a Certified Financial Plannerant (CFP) through a number of accounting bachelor’s degree programs, all of which can prepare students to sit for the CFP Exam. There are also a number of associate’s degree programs, which can often help prospective CFPs reach their educational goals at less cost.

For an overall perspective of accounting, as well as your educational path to success in this field, see our Accounting FAQ Section. On our homepage, you’ll also find features and infographics on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes, and other topics relevant to CFPs and the financial planning profession.

If you want to go all the way to ensure you get your CFP license, see our ranking of the best master’s degrees in accounting to maximize your likelihood of both sitting for and passing the CFP Exam.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most important professional organizations for CFPs to become familiar with, as well as a directory to find the degree program that best suits your accounting career goals:

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How do I Become a Chief Financial Officer? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-chief-financial-officer/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:37:58 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=684 General Introduction

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) manage a range of financial services for their companies, from risk management to financial planning, reporting, and record-keeping. With laws and statutes that govern the financial responsibilities of private companies and public organizations in a constant state of flux, today’s CFO needs to have a keen sense of their need to adapt to an ever-changing profession. This is especially true when economic and financial reform are being discussed at the highest levels of governance. In times like these, Chief Financial Officers will be in high demand, because they are some of the most qualified professionals to not only ensure that their companies are meeting financial goals despite changes to the old system, but also that the movers, shakers, and decision-makers of the world’s largest financial institutions are developing a new system that takes companies (and their employees) into consideration.

So the future is bright for anyone who aspires to become a Chief Financial Officer, a career path for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 7% job growth between 2014-2024. Jobs await them in literally every industry, because every industry has companies and organizations, and every organization or company has financial health that a CFO can work to improve. And because the work of a CFO is never finished—that is, because a Chief Financial Officer’s work is highly specialized and personalized, not to mention dependant upon human variables such as client needs and financial laws that change regularly—it is unlikely the profession will be hurt badly by automation, something which is an unfortunate possibility for financial jobs that don’t require as much specialization or human interaction as the CFO.

Salary Information

According to a lead authority on finance, the median salary for individuals who work as Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) is very lucrative, as they make around 600% more than the average worker. Other leading authorities, such as PayScale stake the median salary of their CFOs at $128,129, a number based on 5,813 individuals reporting throughout the United States. Still others, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, report a median salary of $121,750, but specifically for CFOs with the role of being their institutions Financial Manager. As with all professions, the amount an individual with the requisite qualifications will make depends upon a number of variables, including geographic location, job title, and years of experience. However, it should be noted that on the high end of all CFO salary reports (i.e., the top 25%), most salaries reported are well-above the $200,000 mark.

Skillset

In order to perform their jobs on a day-to-day basis, Chief Financial Officers need to have mastered basic skillsets in mathematics, organization, planning, and personal and public finance. Because CFOs work within the service industry known as “assurance services,” they generally have the goal of providing specialized financial information to key decision-makers in order to assure they make the most informed decisions regarding their company’s finances. That also means CFOs should have good people skills, since they will very likely be interacting with and directing company personnel whose finances they manage on a regular basis.

On a more technical level, CFOs should also be comfortable with some of the more common software used for financial management in their industry, as well as be aware of new paperless trends in the profession, such as using cloud-based financial management software, providing online forms to clients, and asking for e-signatures. In other words, rather than worrying about being replaced by technology, today’s CFO should be working to master it.

And now for the intangibles. There are certain character traits a CFO should have that are difficult to find and replace, such as the intuitive ability to lead their company to make financial decisions whose risks are worth their rewards, as well as the ability to coach and motivate a team of individuals to accomplish company goals. CFOs should also have exemplary financial and risk managements skills, as well as the charisma and credentials to get their company’s foot in the door for new business development opportunities.

Job Description

The job description of a Chief Financial Officer will vary depending on the industry in which they work. Some of the most common industries for CFOs to work are the financial industry, the tech industry, and the service industry. If a CFO can gain experience over the course of his or her financial career in one or more of these industries, they open themselves up to earning some of the top-paying private sector jobs in both the United States and the world, whether they be at the big banks or any number of established or up and coming tech companies across the globe. Many CFOs also work for smaller industries as the most highly qualified and experienced financial professional in the company.

But speaking in the broadest possible terms, every CFO will be expected to carry out the responsibility of ensuring that the organization for which they work is taking steps to avoid bankruptcy, protect its investments, comply with the laws that govern its finances, and maximize revenue from all its sources of income, all at the same time as they work to establish their company as a leader in their industry.

Necessary Education and Experience

In order to become a CFO, prospective financial leaders should strive to accomplish the following three goals:

  • Earn at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education, and perhaps a Master of Business Administration or Doctor of Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting or Finance.
  • Sit for and pass either the CPA Uniform Exam or the CFP Board Certification Examination.
  • Gain work experience as a Financial Manager and Financial Leader

The Chief Financial Officer role has evolved in recent years from a more passive executive role to a more active executive role. Prospective CFOs should expect to play a role in helping their CEOs decide not only the financial strategy of their organization, but also the direction of the business as a whole.

Helpful Resources

You can start your journey to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) through a number of accounting bachelor’s degree programs, all of which can prepare students to become financial leaders. There are also a number of associate’s degree programs, which can often help prospective CFOs reach the early stages of their educational goals at less cost.

For an overall perspective of financial leadership via accounting, as well as your educational path to success in this field, see our Accounting FAQ Section. On our homepage, you’ll also find features and infographics on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes, and other topics relevant to CFOs and the financial leadership profession.

If you want to go all the way to ensure you get the best education possible and become a CFO, see our ranking of the best master’s degrees in accounting to maximize your likelihood of becoming a financial leader.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most important professional organizations for CFOs to become familiar with, as well as a directory to find the degree program that best suits your accounting career goals:

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How do I become a Bookkeeper? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-bookkeeper/ Tue, 30 May 2017 19:08:32 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=681 General Introduction

Those who have an understanding of math and a head for figures, along with an eye for detail and accuracy might find employment as a bookkeeper a perfect fit for your skillset and personality.  Bookkeepers are important cogs in any work environment. They keep close track of all of a company’s accounts, record its daily financial transactions, and that includes using software like QuickBooks or Account Edge Pro to track entries, edits, and credits.

Technology is taking its toll on the profession, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a negative 8 percent growth in a 10 year period from 2014 to 2024. That can be disconcerting to prospective bookkeepers, but it shouldn’t be.  According to Select One LLC.com, accounts payable and receivable clerks, a.k.a. bookkeepers, are still in high demand, and big businesses need them to make sure their invoices and outlays are paid on time. Another plus: Someone with bookkeeping skills can seamlessly transition into higher paying accounting positions, where the work is more focused on different departments, or silos, within a company structure. That transition, however, may require additional education and at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Salary information

It should be noted that the BLS lumps bookkeepers and accounting clerks together, but the jobs are not the same. There are clear differences between the two; most noticeably, bookkeepers record transactions company-wide, while accounting clerks generally are focused on specific departments. According to the latest (May 2016) statistics on bookkeeper compensation, as provided by the BLS, the median salary is $38,390, with a salary range of $23,880-$59,630. Salary.com reports slightly different, but more recent numbers. As of April 2017, a median annual bookkeeper salary is $39,914, with a range of $35,223-$44,620. Of course, the range always depends on several factors, including trends in the overall U.S. economy, a specific company salary structure, and often where the organization is located. Example: high concentrations of jobs of better paying jobs may be found in large metropolitan areas that are financial centers, such as New York City, Washington D.C. or San Francisco.

Skillsets

The image of the lone individual huddled at a desk, late at night underneath a lamp with pencil in hand notating in a large ledger book every financial transaction made by his company is largely a thing of the past with big organizations. Knowledge of computer accounting programs used to track and record the financial transactions and records of a company is a skillset that can find you a job. Having MS-Excel skills are sometimes also required by employers.

In summary, software skills and data entry skills are a must.  After all, bookkeepers must quickly and accurately enter financial data and other information from receipts and bills into databases, spreadsheets, and accounting software. And while software programs handle calculations, bookkeepers will sometimes have to use their own mathematical ability to understand transactions. Familiarity with double-entry bookkeeping procedure is also a skillset that can help bookkeepers work more accurately and, therefore, more efficiently. But most important, having good communication skills (you might have to explain financial matters to clients, meet with executives), being honest, and reliable are keys to success.

Job description

What exactly does a bookkeeper do? Chief responsibilities are recording and balancing financial transactions. After that, specific tasks will vary. Small employers, for example, might give their bookkeepers a larger number of responsibilities, such as processing payroll if they don’t maintain their own payroll department.

Meanwhile, a job description might include some, or all, of these tasks:

  • Data entering: documenting business expenses and income received into accounting and office software (or physical ledgers)
  • Recording: notating the receipt of cash, checks, and vouchers for clients
  • Invoicing: preparing and distributing invoices to collect money owed to your organization.
  • Banking: send cash, checks, and payment in other forms to employer or clients’ financial institutions
  • Receiving: incoming invoices are recorded, while at the same time you verify the delivery of products and services
  • Reconciling: Compare invoices to contracts and purchase orders. Reconcile discrepancies in financial records.
  • Handling payroll: calculate payroll to make sure all business clients’ salaried, hourly, and contracted employees receive prompt, accurate wages. Where appropriate, reimburse employees for business expenses.
  • Processing: filing of payroll taxes. Process W-9 and 1099 tax forms. Prepare and file annual municipal, state, and federal tax returns.
  • Reporting: producing monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports, including balance sheets, income statements, totals by account, outstanding payables reports, and outstanding receivables reports.
  • Communicating: work with business clients or employers, communicating their budget needs and budget constraints

Necessary education and experience

Most bookkeepers need to have at least a high school diploma, however, companies are increasingly looking for bookkeepers with degrees in relevant fields, including finance, accounting, and business studies. There are some excellent programs that can help you get a leg up on the competition for a job.

At the very least, you will need some understanding of basic accounting practices, computers and spreadsheets, although you may learn some of this on the job.  Even though a high school diploma is all you need to become a bookkeeper, some companies prefer to hire bookkeepers with further, formal education. College coursework in accounting, bookkeeping or a related business field can help you stand out among applicants. Remember: as a bookkeeper you’ll have to follow well-established business practices, but there may be an opportunity to be more efficient. That ability will add value to your position and get you noticed by executives in the C-suite.  

Helpful resources

For an overall perspective of the accounting field, and your educational path to success in the occupation, check out our Accounting FAQ.

Certification can help bookkeepers gain an advantage in the job market without seeking a higher educational degree. A bookkeeper can gain certification through a professional organization, so check out:

Find out more about your occupation by reading blogs by insiders and experts. The best blogs about accounting and related fields can be found here.

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How do I become an Tax Accountant? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-an-tax-accountant/ Tue, 30 May 2017 19:04:35 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=679 General Introduction

Tax accountants help their clients with financial and income tax statements. That’s the simplistic description of the job. But these days, a tax accountant’s work is more complex and ever changing. Given the changing tax codes, year to year, and particularly with all the talk in Washington by Congress and the Trump administration about potential changes (simplification?) in the tax laws, tax accountants need to understand the nuances of the tax codes so as to best serve their clients, whether corporate or personal.  

The future is bright for anyone aspiring to be a tax accountant. Washington will attempt to simplify the code but when that will take effect is anyone’s guess. So tax accountants will still be needed. In droves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to analyze job prospects of accountants and auditors on the same page. Right now, their 10-year projection from 2014 through 2024, shows an 11 percent increase in employment for accountants.

Salary information

Indeed.com surveyed more than 9,000 tax accountants in May 2017, and they computed an average salary of $64,797 a year. On the low end, they had reports of a $19,000 annual salary; on the high end, $138,000. PayScale.com says a median salary for tax accountants is $55,000 annually.

Meanwhile, The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups auditors and accountants together in their survey of salaries. Understanding that, the range of salary cited by the BLS is $42,140 (the lowest 10% in the profession) to $120, 910 (top salary). The median salary for auditors, according to the BLS, is $68,150. As always, earnings in this category are affected by career experience, followed by the specific employer and geography.

 

Skillset

Let’s dispense with the obvious: As a certified accountant specializing in tax analysis, you’ll need skills in planning and organizing the material you have to work with. Are you strong at multi-tasking, attention to detail, analytical, and problem solving? Can you communicate well with clients and other senior staff? And, most importantly, can you work under time pressure? Those are the basics. Of course, by now in your career you should be comfortable with the latest technologies, such as Great Plains, QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, SAP, CaseWare, tax preparation software and Audit Command Language.

Other skill sets are not so obvious: you’ll have to develop a sense of discretion and confidentiality. And finally, you’ll need the ability to constantly learn, and be tested for certification. Even senior staff will be under constant pressure to learn new programs, laws.

Monster.com has one more suggestion that makes a lot of sense and is worth quoting verbatim: “Given the intense scrutiny that finance and accounting staff are under these days, it’s no surprise that some employers require applicants to be bondable and able to pass a criminal background check. Keep your nose squeaky-clean!”

Job description

Whether you work for a large accounting firm or operate as an individual, your job is to prepare federal, state, and local tax returns, extensions, and quarterly payments for businesses and individuals.

Breaking down your job description, you’ll need to review tax information supplied by a client. That may entail meeting with the client and asking relevant questions. You need to recognize, anticipate and resolve tax issues. Then, make recommendations. Often, you’ll advise clients on how to minimize tax liability. And should the situation arise, be involved in any disputes or audits that might affect your client.

 

Necessary education and experience

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum educational requirement for becoming a tax accountant. Prospective tax accountants may seek out accounting programs or related majors such as business administration. Individuals who are considering master’s programs in accountancy may look for programs that include a tax concentration. These programs include coursework in financial planning, auditing and taxation, besides courses in statistics.

To file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accountants must be licensed as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) by their state boards. Specific requirements for licensure vary by state; most require applicants to complete 150 semester hours, 30 hours more than what is required for a 4-year degree. Additionally, states typically ask that applicants have two-years experience in accounting.

Once eligible, candidates may take the CPA exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. After earning their certification, most CPAs must complete continuing education to maintain their credentials. Additional educational credits are normally required to become a CPA, leading many to earn graduate certificates or master’s degrees.

 

 

Helpful resources

You can learn more about specializing in tax accounting through some excellent degree programs that offer tax accountancy as a concentration. Meanwhile, having documented college coursework in accounting on your resume can help you stand out among job applicants.

For an overall perspective of accounting, and your educational path to success in this specialized field, check out our Accounting FAQ Section.  At the site, you’ll also find features on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes and many other relevant articles.

To become a tax accountant, you’ll need at least a <a href=”https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/best/accounting-schools-online/> bachelor’s degree</a>.

And it’s likely you’ll need or have to work towards a   master’s degree in accounting.

Here are some professional associations tax pros might want to join:

For some advice on uncovering fraud go to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists here.

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How do I become an auditor? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-an-auditor/ Tue, 30 May 2017 18:59:19 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=677 General Introduction

Auditors are financial detectives, individuals trained to review and independently verify that the accounting data provided by an audited company actually corresponds to the activities undertaken by the company. In other words, are the financial records of an audited company valid and legal? It’s an important job. You’ll be a specialist, examining the money going in and out of organizations, and making sure it is correctly recorded and processed.

You’ll find you have several attractive options once you’ve earned your degree and been certified: you can be a public or private auditor. Work for the government or the private sector. In either instance, you’ll have to hold the company you’re auditing to exacting standards. So you need to be a detail oriented person.

Public, or external, auditors perform accounting, tax and consulting work for corporations, governments and individuals. These auditors work with tax forms and balance sheet statements that companies provide to potential investors.  Many public auditors are CPAs who work for public accounting firms or own their own businesses. More on that later.

Private, or internal, auditors record and analyze financial information of their own organization. Private auditors work on budgeting and performance evaluation, help plan the cost of doing business, and select financial investments for their companies.

Government auditors maintain and examine records of government agencies and of private businesses or individuals performing activities subject to government regulations. You may be tasked with looking for fraud and embezzlement.

And finally, job prospects through 2024 are “above average” according to the BLS. They have projected an 11% increase in employment growth in a 10 year period from 2014 to 2024.

 

Salary information

Average salaries for auditor range with total cash compensation between $40,801 and $79,773 according to PayScale.com. PayScale says a median auditor salary is $54,446. Indeed.com reports a $63,820 median. As with most professions, location of the job is the biggest factor affecting pay, followed by experience level and the particular employer’s pay structure. Highest auditor salaries are on the east coast, specifically, New York, according to PayScale and Indeed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gangs auditors and accountants together. Understanding that, the range of salary cited by the BLS is $42,140 (the lowest 10% in the profession) to $120, 910 (top salary). The median salary for auditors, according to the BLS, is $68,150.

Skillset

Can you multi-task? Are you highly organized and detail oriented? Those are three of the main skillsets a successful auditor must possess. Other traits that make for a successful auditor career include:

  • High ethical standards and professionalism, since auditors have to understand all aspects of a business.
  • Familiarity with computer technology and knowledge of a variety of software programs related to the field. That is, have IT skills such as competency in MS applications, including Word, Excel, and Outlook are tools of the trade.
  • Analytical and critical thinking.
  • Good communication skills, since auditors have to issue reports after the audit is completed, and in some cases, testify in a court of law.

Job description

There are a variety of services that an auditor are expected to provide:

  • Gauging an organization’s financial risk level
  • Examining financial control systems and company accounts
  • Ensuring that financial records and reports are reliable/accurate
  • Identifying and modifying ineffective processes
  • Preparing financial statements, commentaries, and reports
  • Working in conjunction with the managerial staff
  • Reviewing wages
  • Presenting recommendations and findings

 

Necessary education and experience

At a minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to become an auditor at some companies. Other companies, think Wall Street, where competition is hot and heavy, might prefer someone with a master’s degree. Think MBA or Master of Science in Accounting.

 

Click on excellent degree programs to find schools that offer auditing as a concentration. To learn about the top online masters in accounting, go here.

Helpful resources

For an overall perspective of auditing, and your educational path to success in this specialized field, check out our accounting FAQ section.  At the site, you’ll also find features on fraud and tax scams.

Reading up on the profession can help students and graduates gain an advantage in the job market:

For advice on uncovering fraud go to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists here.

Find the Association of Healthcare Internal Auditors here.

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How do I become a accounting clerk? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-accounting-clerk/ Tue, 30 May 2017 18:52:37 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=674 General Introduction

If you’re detail oriented, strong at mathematics and feel comfortable working with computers, becoming an accounting clerk could be an ideal career choice. A starter position at many firms, the pay is good, and advancement opportunities abound in several corporate departments: since accounting clerks often specialize in one phase of the accounting process, clerks have titles that reflect their specialties, such as billing clerks, payroll clerks, purchasing agents, accounts payable clerks, and accounts receivable clerks.

You need to distinguish between accounting clerks and bookkeepers. They are two separate but similar occupations, although often they are thought to be the same. For example, an accounting clerk may be asked to perform important clerical duties, such as recording transactions in billing, purchasing, payroll, accounts payable or accounts receivable, while a bookkeeper does a more broad-based reconciling of all those transactions. Skill in a particular company silo, or department, can lead to fast-track advancement.

Salary information

Average salaries for accounting clerks range between $25,000 and $46,000, according to PayScale.com. Those salary numbers are not etched in stone. Indeed.com reports a $56,773 travel accounting clerk, which is 41% above the national average. Not surprisingly: The location of the job is the biggest factor affecting pay, followed by experience level and the particular employer’s pay structure.

Accounting clerk jobs were projected to decline of 8% from 2014-2024 for all bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks. The BLS combines all those occupations on its review page. Many of the clerk jobs available “should be due to existing accounting clerks advancing to other positions or retiring,” PayScale.com says. In May 2015, accounting, auditing and bookkeeping clerks earned a median salary of $37,250 per year, according to the BLS. Due to the exacting nature of the work, accounting clerks can logically advance to higher paying jobs like account manager. The median salary for that position is $61,000 a hefty salary bump. Other possible paths can lead to a regular staff accountant, which again offers an increase in compensation.

Skillsets

The BLS notes that accounting clerks have the following traits:

  • Attention to detail and a mind for organization.
  • High ethical standards and professionalism, since they are often responsible for the banking and bookkeeping of a business.
  • Familiarity with computer technology and knowledge of a variety of software programs related to the field. For example, competency in MS applications, including Word, Excel, and Outlook are tools of the trade.
  • Good communication skills, since clerks work with and for more senior staff.

Job description

What an accounting clerk does largely depends on the company that hires her or him, and the department in which the clerk is assigned. But in general, a clerk’s chief responsibility is to assist others. Specific tasks will vary from department to department. According to monster.com, an accounting clerk’s job description might include some of these tasks:

  • Reconciles bank statements by comparing statements with general ledger. Maintains accounting records.
  • Maintains accounting databases by entering data into the computer; processing backups. If working with hard copies, files documents.
  • Verifies financial reports by running performance analysis software programs.
  • Determines value of depreciable assets by running depreciation software programs.
  • Protects organization’s value by keeping information confidential.
  • Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities.

Necessary education and experience

Educational requirements for an accounting clerk position depends on the responsibilities of the specific position and department. You won’t necessarily need a post-secondary degree, associate or bachelor’s, to be hired, but having at least a high school diploma will likely be a requirement. Certainly, no matter where an accountant clerk is placed in an organization, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of documents such as receipts, sales slips, bank statements, and financial statements. At some companies, you’ll learn through on-the-job training. You can learn more through some excellent degree programs that can help you get a leg up on the competition for a job. Meanwhile, having college coursework in accounting or a related business field on your resume can help you stand out among job applicants.

Helpful resources

For an overall perspective of the accounting field, and your educational path to success in the occupation, check out our other Accounting FAQ pages here.

Reading up on the profession can help clerks gain an advantage in the job market without necessarily seeking a higher educational degree:

Learn about the value of an accounting clerk associates (some say experience plus having an associates is the most efficient path to a good job), by going here.

For some personal perspectives about the field you are about to enter, try reading blogs by insiders and experts. The best blogs about accounting and related fields can be found here.

 

 

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