Many people consider accountancy to be a left-brain profession. It requires attention to detail along with a passion for numbers and their practical applications. Although it has a reputation for being boring, the demand for accountants is rising.
The need to meet stringent government regulations combined with a steadily expanding global market and aging workforce has made this a good time for people to look for a job as an accountant. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunities for mid-career and entry-level accountants in both management and public accounting positions.
Education and Training
Most auditor and accountant positions are filled by people who have at least a bachelor’s degree in accountancy or a related field. Beginning auditing and accounting positions in the federal government and the private sector usually require four years of college education or an equivalent combination of experience and education.
A number of employers prefer accountancy graduates who either have a master’s degree in accountancy or a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accountancy. At the same time, some colleges and universities are now providing programs that help prepare to students find employment in many growing specialty professions that include internal auditing.
Professional accounting associations also provide continuing education conferences, courses and seminars. Additionally, some graduates of correspondence schools, business schools and junior colleges as well as accounting clerks and bookkeepers who meet the experience and education requirements can be hired for junior accounting positions. They can advance to accountant positions if they can effectively demonstrate their skills at work.
What an Accounting Job Looks Like
People who finish an accountancy degree can work in a firm or start their own private business. Working hours as an accountant vary by firm. There are accounting firms that are open 7 days a week and accounting services that require some amount of overtime.
Busy periods for accountants usually happen from the end of February up to April 15th. This is the time when their clients file their tax returns. Another busy period for accountants is from late August to the 15th of October. This is the final due date for taxpayers who have received a six-month extension from the IRS. During those times, an accountant may work late nights until 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on most Saturdays.
Aside from these periods, accountants spend most of their time managing clients’ financial transactions. This is done through rigid documentation in the form of loss and profit statements, tax documents, payroll reports and receipts. They also separate a company’s finances into different categories while maintaining running totals of how much their clients spend and earn with various parts of their businesses.
Accountants assess the business practices and financial health of individuals and companies in order to advise them. They also look for ways that businesses can increase profit and revenue while minimizing loss. They may also voice opposition or support business decisions that include acquisitions, mergers, market growth and changes in benefits for employees. At the same time, they review and audit financial statements to ensure compliance with government regulations and accuracy. They also look for discrepancies that include missing revenue and unpaid expenses.
Earnings among auditors and accountants tend to vary tremendously by employer. According to the BLS, the yearly national accountant median salary is $62,850. The bottom ten percent in this field earns about $39,640 while the top ten percent usually earns about $109,870.
The BLS also reported that a few particular industries have the highest national mean auditor and accountant salaries. These industries include show business that has a mean salary of about $88,290. At the same time, accountants who work for the federal government and in the laundry and dry cleaning services industry make a mean salary of $89,930 and $91,260 respectively.
The Future is Bright
The BLS projects that employment for auditors and accountants will grow by an average of 16 percent between the years 2012 and 2020. This is about as fast as the normal average for many occupations. At the same time, tighter lending standards and stricter laws are expected to increase demand along with trade growth. Prospects are also very good for accountants who have a master’s degree.
Best Places to be an Accountant
Location also has an impact on how much an accountant earns. There are a number of places where accountants earn particularly high salaries. These include the following.
· New York, New York
· Newark, New Jersey
· Nassau, New York
· San Francisco, California
· San Jose, California
Accountants living in New York earn an annual median wage that can reach about $89,270. An accountant who works in Newark, NJ, can earn about $87,120 while their counterparts who work in Nassau, NY, can earn an annual median wage of about $86,670. At the same time, accountants in San Francisco and San Jose, CA, can earn $86,230 and $85,600 on average respectively.
The BLS also projects that employment for auditors and accountants will also grow much faster in a number of states between 2008 and 2018. These states include Utah, Maryland, Texas, Idaho and Virginia. Utah will have a 35 percent increase in the demand for accountants during these years. Both Maryland and Texas will have a 26 percent demand increase while Idaho and Virginia will have a 25 percent increase in demand for accountants.
At the same time, companies in places like Bellingham, WA, Dubuque, IA, and Manchester, NH, have reported having difficulty hiring accountants. This could be due to increased competition among big CPA firms to attract candidates.
Reasons to Take up Accountancy
Although popular conception is that the accounting field is a bit plain, accounting provides an individual 360 degrees of possibilities. It opens the door to every kind of business from coast to coast.
At the same time, accounting is considered to be the basic tool and language of business. It can also prepare graduates to become a partner in an accounting firm, pursue a fruitful career in corporate management and finance or become a successful entrepreneur. No matter what a person decides to do, having a strong accounting background can open many doors.
Different Accounting Specializations
There are six major fields of auditing and accounting. These include the following.
· Management Accountants
These accountants tend to work for businesses as part of a team. A management accountant provides executives with the analysis and information that they need to make decisions. Company executives use this information to prepare financial reports that are distributed to creditors, shareholders, the IRS and regulatory agencies.
· Government Accountants
Government accountants are employed by state, local and federal governments for a number of reasons. They do the accounting books for many government agencies. At the same time, they audit individuals and businesses that are required to pay taxes or meet government regulations. They may also have a role in auditing branches of the government to make sure that financial objectives are met.
· Public Accountants
A public accountant provides auditing, accounting and consulting services for corporations, individuals, nonprofits and the government. Many of these public accountants are CPAs. However, they may concentrate in a number of services. This includes tax preparation for individuals or businesses and auditing financial statements.
· Internal Auditors
An internal auditor acts as a detective. They examine the internal controls of a specific organization. They also attempt to prevent inaccuracy and sniff out mismanagement and fraud.
· Environmental Accounting
These accountants seek to analyze the expenses for pollution prevention in the manufacturing sector. They also use the information they find to compare alternatives and account for fines and missed tax credits.
· Forensic Accounting
A forensic accountant helps uncover financial fraud and put perpetrators in prison. This is one of the fastest growing fields of accountancy because companies lose millions of dollars annually due to fraud.