How to Become an Accountant

In light of recent economic news, the need to ensure that money is handled appropriately and legally is more important than ever. In order to navigate the ins and outs of finance and keep all monetary processes legal, skilled experts in the area of taxation and financial accountability are necessary. Accountants are the knowledgeable professionals businesses and individuals rely on to manage financial bookkeeping both from a internal and external standpoint.

What does an accountant do?

Generally speaking, accountants monitor and document the flow of money by managing financial statements and accounts. The day to day work of an accountant depends on where they are employed, or what their specialty might be. Some accountants work for companies or individuals to help manage internal accounts – either personal or business. In this position, an accountant would be responsible for keeping records accurately and analyzing the flow of money to identify areas of waste.

Accountants may go by different names, depending on where they work and their level of experience. A few names are bookkeeper, controller and comptroller. Some accountants work in accounting firms, which help companies or individuals prepare and file financial records for investment or taxation purposes.

Still others may work for the government or independent accounting firms, and serve as auditors. Auditors examine the records of companies and individuals to check for compliance with tax laws and to look for any illegal activity.

What kind of training does an accountant need?

The level necessary for accounting training varies. Some lower-level jobs in accounting can be attained through an associate degree. However, many careers in accounting require at least a bachelor degree.

Many people who wish to start a career in accounting should consider becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The most lucrative accounting jobs usually require a CPA, which can be earned by passing a rigorous exam. Many states also require students to complete at least 150 hours in coursework before applying to take the CPA exam. For this reason, some students may choose to pursue a higher degree in accounting in order to meet that requirement. (1)

What are the prospects for a career in accounting?

With recent increased focus on financial integrity, the job market looks very promising for accountants. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that accounting jobs will increase by 18% by 2016. This growth rate is above average for most careers, and is tied both to the focus on the national economy as well as heightened attention to taxation law and fiscal responsibility. (1)

How much do accountants make?

Entry-level positions in accounting can pay anywhere from $34,200 to $49,900 per year. The more specialized the job, the higher the salary is likely to be. Accountants with sufficient training have many opportunities for advancement and can expect to make anywhere from $56,000 to $88,000 and beyond. (2)

Pursuing a career in accounting is a great option for people who are sticklers for fiscal details. Accounting jobs are an important part of business and the financial structure of the country at large, making it a meaningful career choice.

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