An accounting career is mainly a numbers game.
Excellent and accurate accounting is imperative to the success and longevity of a successful company. The main goal of an accountant’s work consists of tracking the business’s—or individual’s—finances to ensure continual profitability. An accounting career is mainly a numbers game, consisting of analysis of financial information to determine or maintain a record of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities within an organization. These financial statements are often necessary for businesses, individuals and sometimes investors to make a decision and keep a pulse on the financial health of business or person.
What is Accounting?
The American Accounting Association (AAA) defines accounting as “the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by users of the information.”
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) defines accounting as “a service activity. Its function is to provide quantitative information, primarily financial in nature, about economic entities that are intended to be useful in making economic decisions, in making reasoned choices among alternative courses of action.”
Why is Accounting a Great Career?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 11 percent through 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The cite globalization, a growing overall economy, and an increasingly complex tax and regulatory environment are the main factors that are expected to lead to strong demand for accountants and auditors.
As long as people are concerned with making money the need for a competent accountant will be in demand. An accounting career provides a great deal of benefits consisting of the following:
- Job security
- A respectable salary
- Vast industry options
- Global job locations
- Unlimited growth opportunities
Another benefit to an accounting career is a magnitude of industries and locations seeking qualified accountants. The BLS says the interconnectedness of the world through technology and that continued globalization of business may lead to increased demand for accounting expertise and services related to international trade and international mergers and acquisitions.
Who Should Pursue an Accounting Career?
- Are you analytical?
- Are you an excellent communicator?
- Do you enjoy learning about current finance law, regulations, financial instruments and compliance?
- Do you have a knack for reporting and an attention to detail?
- Are you enthusiastic and passionate about numbers?
If you said yes, then an accounting career might just be your calling.
An efficient and competent accountant will provide company’s financial information in a way that everyone can understand. Many high-level executives do not comprehend the financial side of the business and rely a great deal on the communication skills of their accountants. Accountants are educated, licensed, analytical and good with numbers. Accountants will work 40-45 hours a week at a computer, and mostly autonomously.
There are varying levels of accountants and the qualification for certifications are different:
- A public accountant is the most common type of accountant and different from a certified public accountant (CPA). A public accountant can be anyone who works in the accounting department. They must be 18 years of age to prepare tax forms, and pass a test to receive a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA). CPAs have completed an extensive amount of post-secondary school, typically 150 semester hours, have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting and two years of work experience. Once the education and work experience requirements are met, accountants can begin taking the certification exams. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has developed four exams necessary to earn the CPA designation. After successful completion of the first exam, candidates must complete the remaining three within 18 months. Those who pass all exams within the allotted time will become CPAs. Last but not least CPAs must remain current with laws and practices through continued education.
Accountant Job Descriptions
Example of an entry level position:
Junior Accountants might prepare journal entries, keep the balance sheet current and assist with monthly account closings. They are there to support the senior accountant in accomplishing some of the accounting department responsibilities.
Example of a Mid-Level position:
Senior Accountants provide financial information to management by researching and analyzing accounting data; preparing reports. Senior Accountants will ensure the integrity of accounting information by researching account issues for compliance and by establishing quality control over financial transactions and financial reporting.
Example of an expert level position:
Certified Public Accountants are licensed to provide accounting services to individuals and businesses. CPAs hold esteemed positions in business and accounting. By completing extra coursework and passing exams, these professionals learn how to evaluate and audit activities, prepare taxes, and prepare financial statements.
Salaries for Accounting Careers
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wages for accountants and auditors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Finance and insurance||$69,350|
|Management of companies and enterprises||$68,370|
|Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services||$66,020|
Employment growth of accountants is directly related to the strength and recovery of the United States economy. As the economy continues to recover and businesses continue to grow more and more, accountants will be needed to prepare and examine financial records. Also, as the health of the U.S. economy continues to improve more private companies will opt to go public. Thus creating more of a need for public accountants to assist with the legal documentation required to the financial end of this type of transition and reporting.
Stricter laws and regulations of business have generated and need for educated and experts in the financial sector. As organizations are required to comply or face significant fees and penalties the demand for accounting services will and has increased.
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