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Accounting Careers

Careers & Jobs
Thinking About an Accounting or Bookkeeping Career ?

First, are you a good fit for an accounting job ?

Those working in the accounting field should possess the following traits:

* Honesty
* Like Working With Numbers
* Detail Oriented but still able to see the Big Picture
* Able to Communicate Written and Orally
* Think Logically
* Ability to Work Independently
* Ability to Manage Time and Meet Deadlines
* Self Motivated
* Organized
A big misconception is that many people think that all accountants and bookkeepers do the same thing and perform the same tasks. The truth is that the field of accounting is a diverse profession and has many areas and specialized fields.

Specialized Accounting Areas
A listing of the major specialized areas and a brief description of each are:

Financial Accounting
Financial Accounting is the field of accounting that deals with recording, assembling and reporting a business's financial information to all interested parties primarily external users wanting or needing financial information about a business. The main reports include a Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Statement Of Cash Flows.

Managerial & Cost Accounting
Managerial & Cost Accounting is the area that provides internal information to managers and executives that aid them in making informed decisions. The reports prepared provide information about what products and services cost , what products are profitable, and if the business is meeting budgetary goals.

Auditing - Internal & External
External Auditing is the area of accounting concerned with independently analyzing and reviewing a company's financial statements and internal controls in order to attest to the accuracy of the financial information of a business. CPA's perform these independent reviews (audits).

Internal Auditing is the field of accounting concerned with effectiveness and efficiency of a company’s operations. These audits (reviews) are performed by a company's own staff and the reports are directed to management for any corrective actions needed.

Tax Accounting
Tax Accounting is the field of accounting that focus on taxes and tax law. In the United States, tax accounting is governed by the Internal Revenue Code which specifies the rules and laws that companies and individuals must follow when preparing their tax return.

Government & Non-Profit Accounting
Government & Non-Profit Accounting is often referred to as Fund Accounting. Special rules are used to set aside approved fund amounts for specific purposes and what type of expenditures from the funds are allowed. This type of accounting is used by Federal, State, & Local Government Agencies as well as Non-Profit Organizations.

Forensic Accounting
Forensic Accounting is the specialty area of accounting that describes engagements resulting from disputes or litigation. The information gathered and prepared prepared is used by the courts to aid in arriving at a fair disposition of the dispute.

Teaching is the accounting field that educates and prepares students for careers in accounting.

Accounting Information Systems
Accounting Information Systems is the area of accounting that provides the procedures and methods used to accumulate the information needed to manage a business and properly report financial information needed by interested parties. The advent of computers and software has made this task more feasable.

Accounting Job Opportunities

The profession of accounting also has a wide range of job opportunities available starting with entry-level positions all the way up to Chief Executive Officers (CEO).

Entry-level positions include accounting clerks and bookkeepers. While a formal education is not mandatory, it helps to have some sort of credentials to get your foot in the door. A minimum of a high school education and possibly a two-year associate degree would help insure that employers provided you with interviews and would consider hiring you for entry-level bookkeeping positions. Some employers will also provide on the job training (OJT).

Accounting positions require a minimum of a four year bachelors degree in accounting. Additional job opportunies and higher salaries become available if an accountant pursues additional education and/or becomes a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Let's discuss the different types of accounting positions; what they are, their requirements, and salary ranges.

Entry-Level Accounting Job Positions

What is an Accounting Clerk ?

What do they do ?
They assist the accountant(s) and/or bookkeeper(s) with routine tasks. Frequently they handle only one specific task such as billing customers (accounts receivable clerk), recording customer cash receipts (accounts receivable clerk), processing and paying payroll (payroll clerk), recording supplier invoices (accounts payable clerk) and paying suppliers (accounts payable clerk) .

What credentials do they need ?
The credentials for accounting clerks are less strict than for bookkeepers.
* High School Education
Completing some Bookkeeping high school classes would also help
* Knowledge about computers and accounting and office software

What salary can they expect ?
Salaries vary by region, educational background, and the amount of experience an accounting clerk possesses.
Check the current Average Salary for a full time accounting clerk at

Who employs them ?
Accounting Clerks are usually hired by companies large enough to have one or more accountants on staff. The accounting clerks are supervised by and assist the accountants with routine tasks.

What is a Bookkeeper ?

What do they do ?
Process and record business transactions accurately and promptly either manually or with accounting software. This includes invoicing customers, receiving cash, processing and paying supplier invoices, paying employees, preparing bank reconciliations, and providing owners, managers, or others with financial reports.

What credentials do they need ?
* High School Education
Completing some bookkeeping high school classes would also help
* A two-year associate degree
* Knowledge about computers and accounting and office software
* Membership in a professional organization

What salary can they expect ?
Salaries vary by region, educational background, and the amount of experience a bookkeeper possesses.
Check the current Average Salary for a fulltime bookkeeper at

Who employs them ?
Typically, bookkeepers are employed by businesses that want to concentrate on managing their businees
without worrying about the record keeping, and can't afford or have a need for a full-time accountant. If accounting
services are needed, the company contracts with an outside accounting firm for services that the bookkeeper is unable
to perform.

Accountant Job Positions

What is an Accountant ?

What do they do ?
Some typical tasks and responsibilities performed by accountants are:

* Prepare, examine, and analyze accounting records, financial statements, and other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards
* Compute taxes owed and prepare tax returns, ensuring compliance with payment, reporting and other tax requirements
* Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations, to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice
* Supervise bookkeepers and accounting clerks
* Report to management regarding the finances of a company
* Establish and maintain a chart of accounts tailored to the business
* Develop, maintain, and analyze budgets and prepare periodic reports that compare budgeted costs to actual costs
* Develop, maintain, and improve the accounting systems and procedures
* Coordinate and work with other business disciplines such as marketing and production

What credentials do they need ?
A Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from a four year College or University.

What salary can they expect ?
Salaries vary by region, educational background, type of business, type of accounting, and the amount of experience an accountant possesses.
Check the current Average Salary for a full time accountant at

Who employs them ?
Mid-size businesses are able to afford to hire in-house accountants.

What is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) ?

What do they do ?
Some typical tasks and responsibilities performed by CPA's working for public accounting firms are:

* Auditing -Audits are conducted annually for publicly owned companies, privately owned businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies and groups. These independently prepared reports help owners and managers make operating decisions, enable creditors to evaluate loan applications, and help individuals make investment decisions.
* Business & Management Consulting Services -Perform reviews to identify weaknesses in an organization and offer recommendations for improvements.
* Taxes -Assist clients with personal and business tax planning, prepare income tax returns, and represent individuals before government agencies at federal, state and local levels.

Tasks performed by CPA's working for other types of organizations are similar to the tasks performed by Accountants.

What credentials do they need ?
* State Boards Of Accountacy require 150 college credits in accounting and other business courses
* Required to pass a rigourous CPA Exam
* Year of work experience
* Continuing Education Courses

What salary can they expect ?
Salaries vary by region, educational background, type of business, type of accounting, and the amount of experience a CPA possesses.
Check the current Average Salary for a full time Certified Public Accountant at

Who employs them ?
* CPA Firms - Public Accounting
* Government Agencies
* Large For Profit Companies
* Large Non-Profit Agencies

Future Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook provides salary and projected growth information for accounting jobs in the United States.

Where Can You Find Information about Schools Offering Accounting Programs ?
Many two-year colleges, community colleges, and technical schools offer an associate degree in accounting. A word of warning, if you later decide you want to continue your education and obtain a four year degree, make sure your course credits will transfer.

If you want to pursue a Bachelors Degree or higher, there are many colleges and universities that provide degreed acccounting programs with some tailored to qualifying for obtaining a CPA designation.

Discover Business offers an excellent Online Accounting Guide to MBA and Graduate Programs
What is covered in the guide:
Accounting Career Outlook
MBA in Accounting vs. Masters of Accounting
MBA in Accounting Programs
Online MBA in Accounting Programs
30+ MBA and Graduate Accounting Scholarships
Online Accounting Resources

Looking for an Accounting or Bookkeeping Job ?

Professional Accounting Organizations
Accountants can join the following national organizations with local chapters:
AICPA (American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants)

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