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Career Overview

Accounting is a crucial part of everyday life because almost everything is run by money, and everyone must keep track of their exchanges with money. For this reason accounting is essential for any industry to record and analyze any financial transactions. The basic duties in most accounting jobs are to keep close track of numbers, specifically dealing with money, and make sure that everything is being run as efficiently as possible. More and more the process of accounting has become highly computerized, so knowledge of certain accounting software is very beneficial. The three basic types of jobs you can attain with accounting include public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants. Public accountants are responsible for auditing, management consulting as well as preparing taxes for individuals and corporations. Management accountants track and record all the financial dealings of the corporation and try minimize waste. These accountants also must monitor the corporation's financial operations and make sure it complies with all the company and government regulations. Government accountants also perform several key functions. Government accountants keep records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals within their regulations.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
-1.4 %

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Associates Degree in Accounting Bachelor's Degree in Accounting M.B.A.

An associate's degree in accounting can be received, but almost all accountants need bachelor's degree in accounting or a similar field. To improve positions individuals can receive amaster's in business administration, or MBA, with accounting concentration or accounting, depending on what your work prefers. Any accountant reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission must become a Certified Public Accountant.

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Valued Traits & Abilities

Quantitative Abilities
Analytical Skills
Detail Oriented
Computer Skills

Career Opportunities

Since accounting has so many different applications and is used in so many different types of industries, there are many different career options.


Bookkeeping is one of the many career options you can pursue in the accounting field. The main duties of a bookkeeper include keeping records and reporting a company's financial transactions, managing accounts, reconciling bank statements, and completing annual tax forms. These transactions can include anything from purchases or sales, to payments by individuals and businesses. Some examples of specific important responsibilities include preparing financial statements such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets. Another example is, bookkeepers must receive, and approve or decline client invoices. The two main methods of bookkeeping include single-entry and double-entry bookkeeping.

Accounting Technology

Accounting technicians serve to provide technical aid to accountants and other financial management staff. They must have a firm background in computer technology because they will operate with accounting software's, record transactions, and different record keeping systems. Also, they must have a superior understanding of basic accounting principles.

Certified Public Accountant

CPA's are responsible for creating and analyzing financial reports for businesses and individuals. CPA's are also in charge of assisting in tax preparation, auditing financial reports for compliance, and in general overviewing a company's financial position to make sure everything is in order. The four main firms that employ CPA's are government agencies, non-profits, privately owned companies, or publicly traded corporations. When you become a CPA, the two options to turn to are either public accounting or corporate accounting, and then from there you can go into even more specific careers. To become a CPA you must pass the CPA exam which covers a variety of different topics. With this degree you can get the title of a certified public accountant, a title not held by accountants who have not completed the CPA exam. Being a CPA, compared to a normal accountant is preferred because accountants will be overseeing a great amount of confidential material, so being a CPA gives more credibility.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants are a specialized type of accountants that analyze financial statements and reports to detect any signs of irregularities or fraud. Forensic accountants will often analyze financial material in fraud cases to provide evidence in legal cases and can be summoned to court to present their findings. Some primary tasks of forensic accountants include auditing records, tracking assets, interviewing people on their financial activities, and in general investigating any irregular activities. The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are usually the largest employers for forensic accountants, but they can be hired by private corporations and public accounting firms for fraud investigations.

Fraud Examination and Management

A fraud examination manager will be in charge of identifying and preventing fraudulent financial activities. They will also pinpoint current deficiencies in the systems or processes and look for solutions to improve or erase the problems. Fraud examination managers have to be very detail oriented to spot irregularities within financial documents or materials.

Tax Accountant

Tax accountants serve a significant role in the wellbeing and functionality of society. Tax accountant's primary job is to prepare federal, state, and local tax returns for individuals and corporations. To perform these tasks, a tax accountant must have vast knowledge of not only accounting and business principles, but also a variety of government regulations. Tax accountants often must communicate with the individual or organization to determine what they need and what is ideal for them. Tax accountants must have very accurate analytical skills to figure out how much the customer owes in taxes, and allow them to receive the maximum deductions.

Work Environment

Most accountants will work in office settings, sometimes traveling to their client's location. Most accountants work full time. For example, during tax season it will be expected there are longer work hours.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013