What Does an Accountant Do?

Accountants can work in many capacities: for the government, for companies, or for individuals. Anyone who needs someone to organize and maintain their records, taxes, and financial documents can benefit from your services. As an accountant, you could work with investments, budgets, and consulting. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more about accountant duties, the education required, and how to become a certified public accountant (CPA). Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description Overview

Accountants arrange and analyze financial documents and operations, ensuring accuracy, efficiency, law and tax compliance for individuals and/or organizations. They also often design budgets and manage costs. Most have completed a degree program and are state-mandated to be certified.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required EducationBachelor's degree
Key SkillsAnalytical, detail oriented, good at communication, math, and organization
Work EnvironmentCorporate or home offices
Similar OccupationsBookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, budget analysts, cost estimators, financial managers, personal financial advisors

Common Types of Accountants

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there are three categories for accountants: public, government, and management. A public accountant handles taxes and accounting for clients, including both corporations and individuals, often times working as a certified public accountant (CPA). Government accountants work in government agencies and organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Management accountants handle budgeting and cost management for their company.

Training and Certification

If you do any filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), you are required by law to be certified. According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), to become certified, you have to pass the Uniform CPA Examination (www.aicpa.org). You will also need to meet educational and experience-related requirements.

Another certification available is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA). To obtain this certification, you must be a member of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), hold a bachelor's degree, have two years of experience working in accounting, gain entrance into the CMA program, and pass a two-part exam. According to the IMA, this certification will provide proof of your skills in managing financial planning, analysis, and control (www.imanet.org).

A third option is to become certified as a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). The CISA designation demonstrates your abilities working with securing, controlling, and auditing information systems. According to the ISACA, formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, to obtain this certification, you need to submit an application for the certification, comply with the ISACA's standards and policies, and complete the CISA exam and meet work experience requirements (www.isaca.org). The exam is offered three times a year in June, September, and December.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by accountants and auditors was $70,500 in May 2018. The employment of such professionals is expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026, per the BLS (www.bls.gove).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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