If you are an accounting student, especially if you are nearing the end of your senior year, now is the time to begin considering prospective employment for after graduation. One such employer is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is a major employer of accountants in the US.
What is the IRS?
The IRS the governmental service that is responsible for collecting taxes and for the interpretation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. The IRS has ten service locations spread throughout the country, with most located in major or centrally located cities. These locations include Andover, MA; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Fresno, CA; Holtsville, NY; Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; Ogden, UT; and Philadelphia, PA. Tax returns that are sent by mail are received at these locations, where actual tax processing occurs. Some centers specialize in processing individual returns and others process business returns.
The IRS is a large scale employer with 94,349 workers as of 2011. According to statistics kept by the IRS, these employees are spread across numerous functions, including 14,588 Revenue Agents, 5,922 Revenue Officers, 2,751 Special Agents, and 1,610 Attorneys. Many other employees, likely the majority, come from the accounting and auditing fields, with Information Systems/Technology workers also making up a sizable number of employees as well.
Why do I want to work for them?
Like many opportunities in federal employment, the IRS offers a competitive salary, opportunity for advancement, and a solid benefits and retirement package. Additionally, referring to the list above, they are located in many attractive and livable cities for those who are looking for a good quality of life for their family and themselves. Job security with the service is generally positive as well.
Others may wish to work for the IRS because of the challenges presented by the work, including heavy workloads during tax season and a continuous flow of regular work to be done. Working for the IRS also looks good on the resume of an accountant who intends to open his/her own accounting firm or who wishes to join a large and prestigious firm in a related field, such as corporate accounting.
How can I get a job with the IRS?
For the majority of positions, you will need a college degree to be a good candidate for employment. Some clerk positions have lower educational requirements. Higher-level positions may require graduate level education. For undergraduate studies, accounting is among the most versatile degrees sought by the IRS. Other options include: auditing, finance, economics, and business administration.
You will also need to have received your certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This is obtained through taking a written examination, which many test-takers find quite difficult. It is worth taking considerable time to prepare prior to sitting for the exam.
References are also an important consideration, especially for entry-level positions or applicants with short work histories. The best sources are previous employers or supervisors, other federal employees, and relevant professors, especially those who publish in business or economics journals. Using family members as references is generally frowned upon.
In general, applicants undergo a background check and pre-employment federal income tax verification. Those with criminal records or tax-related anomalies in their past may have poorer than average prospects with this employer.
When you are ready to apply, you can do so online. Like all jobs with the federal government, the IRS hires through the website usajobs.gov. Using this site, applications can search for job openings by keyword, such as accountant, or by location, in case you are looking for jobs in a particular city or state. You may wish to use both methods to avoid missing out on great opportunities.