Accounting Program Career Facts
Accountants and auditors prepare, analyze, and verify financial reports and taxes and monitor information systems that furnish this information to managers in business, industry, and government.
The major fields of accounting are public, management, and government accounting. Public accountants have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. They perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities for their clients, who may be corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. Management accountants (also called industrial, corporate, or private accountants) record and analyze the financial information of the companies for which they work. Other responsibilities include budgeting, performance evaluation, cost management, and asset management Government accountants and auditors maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation.
Within each field, accountants often concentrate on one aspect of accounting. For example, many public accountants concentrate on tax matters, such as preparing individual income tax returns and advising companies of the tax advantages and disadvantages of certain business decisions.
Increasing numbers of accounting graduates are working in private corporations. Management accountants analyze and interpret the financial information corporate executives need to make sound business decisions. They also prepare financial reports for non-management groups, including stockholders, creditors, regulatory agencies, and tax authorities. Within accounting departments, they may work in financial analysis, planning and budgeting, cost accounting, and other areas.
People with accounting jobs understand information systems and are skilled at working with computers to gather, report, and interpret information. Skills in human relations and interviewing are essential because accountants need to understand and solve financial problems for other people.
Accounting covers a wide variety of jobs including Financial Reporting, Income Tax Research and Preparation, Information Systems Design, Auditing, Budget Preparation, and Cost Accounting. Levels of accounting jobs range from clerical bookkeeping to Vice-President of Finance/Chief Financial Officers.
The average starting salary for someone with a bachelor's degree is about $35,000 per year, yet salaries ranged from $30,000 to $40,000. Those with 1 to 3 years experience will increase to about $50,000 a year, with salaries ranging from $30,000 and $60,000 in the higher management positions. After 10 to 15 years of experience in this field, one may earn up to $110,000 per year. Starting salaries with an associate degree vary with the individual's education and work experience. Bookkeeping jobs for students working on a degree vary from $8.00 per hour on up depending upon education and experience.
Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Each year, several hundred thousand jobs for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks will become available as these clerks transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. The large size of the occupation ensures plentiful job openings, including many opportunities for temporary and part-time work.
Most professional accountant and internal auditor positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. However, many employers are beginning to prefer candidates who have earned a master's degree. A variety of bookkeeping and paraprofessional accounting jobs are available for people with less than an associate degree. There appears to be a growing trend for these jobs to request a minimum of an associate degree.
Accountants traditionally have been detail-oriented and that is still important, but modern accountants require a much broader set of abilities. The modern accountant needs highly developed analytical skills to deal with the ever-changing business environment. Good oral and written communication skills are a necessity. Interpersonal skills are highly desirable. The ability to effectively work with computers is a necessity. Computerization lessened the focus on repetitive, detail-oriented work in accounting in favor of analysis and communication.
Based on recommendations made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, most states currently require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework. Students already holding a bachelor's degree in another field who earn an associate degree in accounting may meet the educational qualifications for the CPA examination and entry into professional levels of accounting. In Michigan, the 150-hour law can be met with LCC classes if the student has a 4-year degree already.
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