Accountants and auditors essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $62,850
- 2011, number of jobs: 1,085,150
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 16 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Accountants and auditors; what they do:
Most, if not all, businesses would crumble without accountants and auditors; they are the life source and regulators of nearly every trade. Accountants and auditors work with, and answer to, a variety of people ranging from business management to individual clients.
There are four main types of accountants and auditors: public accountants, management accountants, government accountants, and internal auditors.
Accountants and auditors prepare tax returns and assure taxes are paid. They are also responsible for reviewing and assuring accuracy and regulation compliance in financial statements, account books, and accounting procedures. They also find new methods of cost reduction and revenue enhancement to improve profits.
Accountants and auditors often specialize in areas such as assurance services or risk management, among others.
Accountants and auditors job titles:
- Certified Public Accountant
- Staff Accountant
- Accounting Manager
- Business Analyst
- Internal Auditor
- Assurance Manager
- Internal Audit Director
- Financial Auditor
Accountants and Auditors Education, Certification and License Requirements
Typically, accountants and auditors need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field, such as internal auditing or business administration with a concentration in accounting. However, individuals with a community college degree, bookkeepers, and accounting clerks who meet the education requirement of employers may be hired for junior accounting positions and later obtain an accountant position.
Accountants and auditors programs cover subjects such as:
- Business administration
- Financial Management
- Risk Management
- Tax Accounting
Certification within a specific accounting field greatly aids in advancement opportunities for accountants or auditors. The most widely recognized certification for accountants and auditors is passing the Certified Public Accountant exam, earning the CPA title and professional distinction. Work experience in an accounting or auditing position is required before an individual can apply for a CPA license.
A CPA license is attained through the state Board of Accountancy and must be obtained before an accountant can file a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. State requirements, in conjunction with passing the CPA exam, vary per state. Most states require CPAs to take continuing education to maintain their licenses.
Other certifications available in this field include: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). Additional certifications are available for accountants or auditors who have already earned a CPA license.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Public accountants generally advance within their first two years, and become senior management with a few more years. Some accountants will advance to a management or partner position, start their own accounting firm, or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.
Management accountants can advance through the ranks of an organization and become anything from an accounting manager, to financial vice president or chief financial officer, or even a company president.
It is not uncommon for public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors to transfer into one another’s field to find advancement opportunities.
Accountants and Auditors Job Outlook
Forecast: 16 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for accountants and auditors, which aligns with the average for all occupations.
Laws and regulations in the financial sector are continually becoming stricter, creating a larger need from businesses for qualified accountants and auditors to help them meet new standards. Globalization of business will likely also increase the world need for accounting auditors and related professions dealing with international trade, mergers, and acquisitions.
Job prospects are most promising for accountants and auditors who passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and/or those with a master’s degree in accounting or business with an accounting concentration.
Accountants and Auditors Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $62,850
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $83,210
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $48,920
Accountants and Auditors Major Employers
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services
- Finance and insurance
- State and local government
- Management of companies and enterprises