Accounting is a rewarding career field to consider, even in today’s struggling economy. Whether the bottom line is red or black, global companies and local businesses need people to account for their financial transactions. They need accountants to keep the books, auditors to verify financial data and tax specialists to understand the complex federal tax codes.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a title given to qualified accountants in the United States. Accountants earn this designation by passing a uniform CPA examination and meeting certain education and experience requirements. Some states prohibit an “accountant” or “auditor” designation unless the person is actually certified as a CPA.
What is a typical day in the life of a Certified Public Accountant? What skills do accountants need to do their jobs? What training is required? Here is a brief overview of the accounting career, including the required skills and training.
An Accountant’s Typical Day
For some people, the word “accountant” paints a picture of someone counting money in a back office and recording every penny. In fact, the slang terms “bean counter” and “pencil pusher” stem from this stereotype.
Accounting does involve a good amount of counting and paperwork, but it also requires major people skills. Accountants are valued business professionals. Their workloads are contingent on their particular area of accounting as well as the time of year.
Tax accountants work on tax preparations during the spring and conduct research on client tax planning throughout the year. Auditors visit client locations, perform inventories and analyze financial data. Accountants in the public or private sector analyze data, prepare reports and assist management with financial decision-making responsibilities.
An Accountant’s Skills
Accountants require a range of skills to perform their duties. Good math skills and computer skills are essential for the job. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are also required.
Accountants are detail-oriented individuals who think analytically. Good accountants have solid, ethical backgrounds that would not cause embarrassment to the profession or their clients.
An Accountant’s Training
According to the American Institute of CPAs, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum education requirement for people in the accounting professions. Most accountants pursue an education at the master’s degree level. Many states require this degree to sit for the CPA exam. Some states require an ethics course, as well.
Most accountants have two or more years of professional experience before they sit for the CPA exam. Government and private sector companies generally prefer certified accountants with two or more years of relevant work experience.
Training for an accounting career is harder than for most professions, but the rewards are more than worth it. Auditors, tax preparers and other accounting professionals have unique opportunities to help companies not only survive but also thrive. Even in a down economy, they can make a real difference in the lives of the people they work with.