The following article discusses the career path of an Accountant. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of Accountants.
Accountant Job Duties
Accountants are responsible for the preparation and examination of financial records. They make sure these are accurate and that the relevant taxes are paid in a timely manner. They determine whether financial operations are as effective as possible. Typically, they focus quite strongly on tax preparation, but they also work with organizations to make sure they are as efficient as possible and use the right accounting procedures. To do this, they hold responsibility for financial records and work closely with management on determining best practices to increase profit and revenue, while reducing cost.
Accountants must also be able to explain what their findings are. Hence, they must have strong written communication skills in order to create reports, but also oral communication skills to discuss their findings in layman’s terms.
It is also common for accountants to specialize in certain areas of finance. For instance, they may work in risk management, assurance services, or healthcare.
Other job duties of accountants are:
- Analyzing data in order to create reports
- Generating financial statements and records and interpreting these
- Holding responsibility for properly maintaining tax, profit and loss, liabilities, and assets records
- Maintaining the organization’s general ledger
Where Accountant’s Work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1.4 million accountants in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals are:
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 25%
- Government: 8%
- Finance and insurance: 8%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
- Self-employed workers: 7%
How to Become an Accountant
In order to become an accountant, a bachelor’s degree is required as a minimum, preferably in accounting or a field related to it. Job prospects are greatly improved for those who become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), which requires further education at the graduate level. Hence, most accountants will complete a master’s degree in accounting or related field.
Accountant Education Requirements
A bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field is generally required for someone to work as an accountant. Master’s degrees are usually preferred. Usually, accountants have completed internships as part of their degree as well.
If accountants are to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they must become a CPA, which is a legal requirement. Many accountants choose to become a CPA because it drastically improves their job prospects. CPAs are licensed by the Board of Accountancy in a specific state, and it proves they have completed an examination and other requirements, which includes a total of 150 study hours in accountancy, which means most have studied at the master’s degree level.
There are four parts to the CPA exam, which is provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Usually, candidates have 18 months to pass all four parts. Continuing education is usually also required to maintain a CPA license.
Other certifications also exist, including:
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) through the Institute of Management Accountants
- Certified Internal Auditor through the Institute of Internal Auditors
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) through ISACA
- A variety of different certifications through AICPA
Accountant Traits & Qualities
The most effective accountants have the following traits to a certain degree:
- Computer literacy
- Oral and written communication skills
- Mathematical skills
Minimum Accountant Education
National Accountant Salary
The national average salary estimate for Accountant was $52,461. This number is estimated from over 6,395,924 employees, users past and present job advertisements from Indeed.com. This equates to an hourly salary of $27.32 and monthly of $4,372.
- Most Reported
Accountant Salary by State
The following section lists Accountant salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, DC had the largest quoted salary of $69,777 while Montana had the smallest quoted salary of $32,966.
Top 20 National Employers
According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a Accountant. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.
|Employer Name||Location||Average Salary|
|Private Darien Accountant||Connecticut||$120,000|
|Pelham Berkeley Search Accountant||Massachusetts||$116,624|
|Department Of Housing And Urban Development Accountant||DC||$111,479|
|North Star Staffing Solutions Accountant||New York||$108,702|
|US General Services Administration Accountant||DC||$105,700|
|Federal Government Jobs Accountant||Colorado||$104,870|
|U.S. Navy Accountant||Maryland||$104,482|
|United States Department Of Defense Accountant||Virginia||$102,790|
|National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Accountant||Missouri||$101,592|
|U.S. Government Accountant||DC||$100,014|
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|Career Name||Average Salary|
|Food Service Director||$55,529|
|Human Resources Generalist||$54,497|
|Personal Banking Manager||$51,369|
|Public Relations Manager||$51,303|
|Social Media Manager||$50,861|