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Pursuing a Career in Accounting? Opportunities Are Yours For the Taking

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in accounting or auditing, the opportunities may be yours for the taking. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, the accounting profession will experience strong job growth over the period from 2006 to 2016. Accounting jobs are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016. This growth is faster than the average for all occupations. It is projected that almost 226,000 accounting jobs will be created during the ten year period. The strong growth in accounting and auditing jobs is expected to result from economic expansion, changes to financial laws, and stricter corporate governance. Accounting career opportunities will also be created by changes to financial reporting standards, business investments, mergers and acquisitions, and other events that are expected to lead to greater scrutiny of accounting practices and company finances. Growth in accounting jobs will also be driven by the desire to make government agencies more accountable. According to the Handbook, candidates with a master’s degree, who obtain certification or licensure, or who are skilled at using accounting and auditing computer software will have the best career opportunities.

What jobs do accountants and auditors do? The role of accountants and auditors is quite broad. Generally speaking, accountants and auditors prepare, analyze, verify and communicate financial information for clients that may include corporations, governments, non-profit organizations, or individuals. But the specific job descriptions of accountants and auditors vary depending on the type of accounting and auditing job.

What types of accounting career opportunities are there? There are four major fields of accounting and auditing: public, management, government accounting, and internal auditing.

Public accounting jobs: Public Accountants provide a wide range of consulting services relating to accounting, auditing, tax, and other financial activities. A career in a public accounting involves providing services such giving advice to companies or individuals to help them get certain tax advantages and preparing and filing income tax returns. External auditors are responsible for auditing financial statements for companies to ensure that they have been prepared properly. Many public accountants have the professional designation Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and they may work on their own or in public accounting firms.

Management accounting jobs: Management accountants prepare and analyze the financial information of the companies for which they work. If you pursued a career in management accounting, you would be responsible for maintaining budgets, managing expenses, analyzing financial information, preparing financial reports and managing company assets.

Government accounting jobs: A career in government accounting means you would be employed by a Federal, State, or local government agency. Government accountants are responsible for maintaining and analyzing the financial records of these agencies. They may also be responsible for auditing private businesses and individuals. For example, accountants for the Internal Revenue Service are employed by the federal government to review taxes received by businesses and individuals. In addition, they are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the various government agencies are making expenditures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Internal auditing jobs: Internal auditors are responsible for ensuring that the financial records of a company or individual are accurate. They check for fraud or non-compliance with laws, and they help to prevent financial loss. Other responsibilities of an internal auditor may include reporting on audits, advising on or recommending changes to a company’s operations an/or financial activities, reviewing data regarding a company’s assets, liabilities, stock, income and expenditures, preparing reports and financial statements, and reviewing compliance with corporate policies and government regulations.

What are the educational requirements for a career in accounting or auditing? Your duties as an accountant will vary according to what type of accounting you decide to specialize in or what kind of accounting job you want to pursue. Accordingly, if you are pursuing career opportunities in accounting or auditing, the education and training requirements can vary depending on your role. Most accounting jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field but some employers will only consider job applicants with a master’s degree in accounting, or a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Licensure and certification for accounting jobs: Only a Certified Public Accountant is permitted to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Accordingly, if you’re interested in a career working for a public company that’s registered with the SEC, you need to be licensed as a CPA by your State Board of Accountancy. Most States require CPA candidates to be college graduates and to have some accounting experience. To become a CPA, you must pass a four-part examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This is required by all States.

Things that can help increase your accounting career opportunities:
o Previous experience in accounting or auditing, such as experience gained in summer or part-time internship programs, will help your chances of getting an accounting job.
o Knowledge of computers and financial software applications will make you a stronger candidate for an accounting job.

What skills do you need to succeed in an accounting career? If you’re interested in accounting career opportunities, you must:
o be proficient in math and you must have excellent analytical skills
o communicate effectively
o be good at working with people
o have basic accounting knowledge
o be familiar with accounting software

If you’re seriously thinking about accounting or auditing career opportunities, information is available from the following organizations:

o AACSB International
o American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
o National Association of State Boards of Accountancy
o Institute of Management Accountants
o Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation
o The Institute of Internal Auditors
o ISACA
o Association of Government Accountants.

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