This is not the most luxurious career option, but it is a field that offers substantial career stability. You can look through local papers and online job directories any day of the week and find at least one job description for someone in possession of accounting and financial skills. As an accountant you might fit into any of these work environments:
- Single accountant in charge of all finances for a small business
- One accountant in a larger financial department for a large corporation
- Self employed accountant operating out of your home
- Tax accountant working part time during tax season or giving advice as tax consultant
- Personal financial counselor for homeowners and families
- Government employment, at the local, state or federal level
If you decide to open your own business in the future, then your accounting skills could be very valuable to keeping your business profitable as well.
Accountant Job Responsibilities
The accountant job description involves anything related to the management of finances for businesses or individuals. This often includes managing the flow of money in and out of a business, while ensuring all bills are paid on time and fees are not collected from mismanaged funds. The accountant may be asked to determine a budget for large projects, and they are typically in close communication with business owners or higher level management.
When working for a business of any size, the job description will typically include payroll duties as well. The accountant must make sure every employee is paid on time, and that everyone only receives what they are rightfully owed. They are also responsible for ensuring there are adequate funds in the accounts to pay those employees on time. An accountant will often print out and sign the checks as well. They may also sign checks to pay bills, vendors, and take care of other obligations.
Taxes will almost always be a part of the accountant job description as well. Accountants are expected to know all federal and state tax guidelines, which change every year. Knowing where to quickly gain information on taxes for other states and for international laws may be required as well, since most businesses operate in outside of their own state’s borders. Many accountants will create and print out W2 forms or 1099s for employees as well.
Training and Education for Accountants
The accountant job description requires a bachelor’s degree, and in some cases a job description will call for a master’s degree. The bachelor’s degree is enough in most cases to land a position with a small company. It should also be sufficient for tax preparation for the general public or small businesses.
Those who want to gain higher paid positions, such as financial positions with large corporations, will have to secure a master’s degree in finance or accounting.
Salary/Wages for Accountants
Accountants will make around $50,000 a year, with bachelor’s degree candidates making a bit less than this and master’s degree candidates perhaps earning a little more each year. Those who land positions with the federal government can make substantially more if they secure a master’s degree and remain on the job for promotions over time.
This is one of the few career fields where a satisfying salary can be earned right out of college. Those who secure a degree from a reputable institution could find themselves jumping right into their career with a reasonable salary.
Certification is not required in order to work as an accountant or in other positions in the financial world, but some will choose to apply to become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA. Each state has a different set of requirements for this certification, but an examination is always required. Typically, states will also include requirements for advanced college education, and in some cases that may mean securing a master’s degree before taking the test and applying.
CPAs will make more money than other accountant, plus certain jobs will require this certification for consideration. Those who take the time to get this certification often get hired for more prestigious jobs with greater financial reward.
Employers who will only hire certified accountants will specify this in their accountant job description.
Accountant Professional Organizations
The Professional Accounting Society of America is a great resource for those considering a career in accounting, or who have secured their degree and are just starting out in their financial career. This organization caters exclusively to low to mid level employees in the accounting field.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a more prestigious organization that provides services and resources to those with more substantial careers in the field.