OACO Accounting Careers

CAREERS in ACCOUNTING

JSC GLOBAL Accounting Careers

Accountant

  • Careers in accounting begin with an affinity for numbers given the job of an accountant is to keep a close watch on financial records. Bookkeeping, tax preparation and financial auditing are some of the most common responsibilities. Certified accountants can enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities, with full-time careers available in the fields of business, education, health care, government, military and many others..
  • To qualify for hire, applicants are expected to produce adequate credentials to prove accounting competency. In general, the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Employers typically favor candidates with clear career focus. Higher degrees and official accounting certifications will greatly improve prospects for an accountant career. Experience is also a desirable quality, making internships and apprentice situations a good starting point for aspiring accountants.
  • The most desirable credential for a career in accounting is CPA (certified public accountant). CPAs are qualified for a variety of accounting careers from corporate auditors to payroll supervisors. To hold the title of CPA, the accountant must have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination administered by the NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) or its equivalent bodies in other countries. CPA applicants are also required to complete certifications and educational prerequisites as required by individual states.
  • On-the-job experience counts for a lot in the world of accounting. For example, most states require accountants to have a certain amount of professional experience before they can apply for a CPA license. Experienced accounting professionals will generally enjoy more chances for career advancement and higher salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountant salaries can range from around $39,000 to more than $100,000 per year, with the average falling around $62,000, depending on the position. Accounting positions with responsibility and authority usually require a graduate degree, a CPA license and several years of experience.
  • Many career accountants choose to specialize in one or more areas of the field. One specialty example is tax accountants who must be specifically tax-certified. The duty of these accountants is to keep tax records in order for large and small organizations or for individuals. Another specialty area is forensic accounting. Forensic accountants are trained to conduct financial investigations in order to prove or disprove errant, fraudulent or criminal transactions.
  • According to Forbes.com, family office practices has also become one of the preferred providers, and can be a top source of new and consistent revenue for an accounting firm. It is estimated that profits for a firm's family office practice can be between 50-65 percent.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides an excellent source of accounting career information. The BLS handbook forecasts a positive outlook for accountant careers through 2020, with job growth set around 16 percent. Further statistics indicate that the demand for qualified accountants will rise in years to come, and that the demand will continue to increase. This rise in accounting positions may be due to the recent world financial crisis and resultant laws and regulations.
  • While the BLS predicts that accounting jobs may become more plentiful in the future, it also projects an increase in competition from qualified applicants. We recommend that aspiring professionals should acquire recognized accounting certifications and seek post-secondary education in the form of terminal accounting degrees. A highly-desirable set of credentials for employment would include a master's degree in accounting or a master's of business administration with an emphasis on accounting, as well as completion of the CPA licensing exam and two or more years of professional experience.

Accounting Assistant

An accounting assistant is an entry-level job in the accounting field. It typically requires an accounting assistant certificate to gain employment. Maintaining records, typing reports and assisting an accountant are a few of the daily job responsibilities. There are several careers in accounting. Not only can one be an accounting assistant but occupations such as bookkeeping, accounting clerks, cost estimators, financial examiners and post-secondary teachers are just a few. Accounting assistant is an entry level job but the average salary, according to 2012 statistics from the BLS, starts off on average a little over $36,000 a year.

Accounting assistants will assist the accountant by maintaining accurate records of daily transactions, payroll, inventories, accounts payable and accounts receivable. They may assist in the preparation of financial statements and compile financial data. Sometimes accounting assistants are called upon to perform basic office responsibilities such as handling the mail, answering the telephone, typing correspondence and assisting customers. There is room for advancement as an accounting assistant. As skills grow assistants can be advanced to full-charge bookkeeper, manager or supervisor. Some companies have different classifications of accounting assistants based on experience;

  • An entry level assistant would perform basic job duties while learning procedures, process and methods of the work
  • An intermediate assistant builds on entry level skills by working on assignments that develop skills
  • An assistant at the experienced level performs a wide variety of assignments and is able to make decisions and judgments based on policies and procedures
  • Advanced level assistants are the lead worker and oversee the work of others Obtaining an accounting assistant certificate can be done in one or two full-time semesters. Programs will prepare the student according to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in processing financial information. The student will also learn to prepare payroll and tax reports as well as use computerized accounting programs. Accounting career information can vary by college, but usually to enter into an accounting assistant program the student will need to submit high school information or its equivalent, take the college assessment test and meet with an admissions counselor. The program will require completion of courses such as:
    • Financial accounting
    • Principles of management
    • Managerial accounting
    • Accounting software applications
    • Spreadsheet applications

When students obtain their accounting assistant certificate they will be able to find employment in entry level accounting positions. People who are considering becoming an accounting assistant will be required to perform arithmetical calculations, work with percentages and decimals, able to write clearly and to type and key in entries. Other skills include reconciling balance amounts accurately, using mathematical schedules, define problems and have the ability to organize, analyze and draw valid conclusions. Being able to deal with tax return forms and run payroll following Government regulations are other important skillsets.

Accounting assistants usually work regular office hours, Monday through Friday from 9 am.-5 p.m. inside an office. Sometimes travel is required if a client needs assistance. The day is typically spent working at a computer most of the time. Businesses that usually hire accounting assistants include tax offices, auditing firms, accounting firms, accounts payable and receivable as well as organizations of all sizes. Most assistants work full-time, however there are part-time and flexible opportunities available.

Anyone who loves numbers and details would fit well into the accounting assistant career path. There is room for advancement and the job outlook is growing at an average pace. Now that the fundamentals of this entry-level position have been explained, enroll in a program and be working within a year

Accounting Clerk

Do you have an aptitude for math and a keen eye for detail? Would you like a career that allows you to work with computers in an office setting? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, you might just be suited for a career as an accounting clerk.

Accounting Clerk Job Description

An accounting clerk is a clerical assistant who performs a wide range of functions to support the financial record keeping of bookkeepers and accountants. The clerk is charged with keeping detailed financial records for businesses and other organizations within an accounting department in a variety of settings, including:

  • accounting firms
  • banks
  • insurance companies
  • nonprofit organizations
  • government entities
Typical Daily Job Responsibilities

As a supporting role to an accountant, accounting clerks are often required to perform a number of tasks including handling records of incoming receipts, business expenditures, tax liabilities and payroll expenses. Besides record keeping, an accounting clerk's other duties might include:

  • creating databases
  • reviewing financial documents for accuracy
  • producing income statements
  • receiving payments
  • handling payroll
  • purchasing and billing

As a working member of a busy accounting office, an accounting clerk may also be required to perform daily tasks indirectly associated with accounting. They may be asked to field general customer service questions, sort mail, answer incoming calls, and filing.

Qualifications to Become an Accounting Clerk

Anyone considering becoming an accounting clerk must have an aptitude for math and a general familiarity with accounting procedures. Other skills and characteristics that employers often look for include:

  • computer literacy
  • excellent oral and written communication
  • attention to detail
  • time management
  • planning and organization
  • interpersonal effectiveness
  • nonprofit organizations

Most people on this career path start with a high school diploma, although a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or a related field is preferred. Experience also will give accounting clerks an upper hand but typically one will learn the daily responsibilities on the job under the guidance of an accountant or full-charge bookkeeper.

Career Outlook for Accounting Clerks?
Like most fields, by taking specialized certification courses, an accounting clerk can advance his or her career. Certification by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers is proof of a higher level of proficiency with accounting procedures than would be expected of an entry-level clerk. This type of certification can require the applicant to have a certain number of years as an accounting clerk, to pass an exam and to adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. Accounting clerks can also, with enough experience, become accountants and auditors. Openings for accounting clerks can be found in most businesses. The working environment is usually an office setting with the necessary access to computers, fax machines, phone lines and the Internet. Work hours for the typical accounting clerk are regular business hours. At times, however, some overtime might be expected during particular busy financial seasons.

Accounting career information from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that an accounting clerk can expect to earn about $18 an hour or a little over $36,000 a year. These wages would increase as the clerk became more proficient and could handle more complex tasks. If you've always been fascinated by numbers and you love computers, becoming an accounting clerk might be the ideal career choice. Of all the careers in accounting available, the accounting clerk may just have the most potential for advancement with the lowest starting requirements. With decent pay, advancement opportunities and a clean, professional work environment, this job has many benefits.


Accounting Manager

The title of accounting manager is considered a top position in the field of finance. It takes a high level of education and certification to qualify for management careers in accounting, but the long-term rewards can be worth the effort. Entry-level accountants can earn annual salaries in the range of $38,000, while those who work their way up to management positions may earn up to $100,000 per year, according to the BLS. The national average for accountants as of 2012 though is $71,040. To be an accounting manager requires a special mix of qualifications. Accounting managers are not only in charge of keeping track of the flow of money, they are often responsible for managing the work of other accountants. Suggested credentials would be a graduate degree from an accredited institute of higher learning, proper and legitimate accounting certification, and at least one or two years of on-the-job experience.

Well-qualified and highly-credentialed accountants can hold a number of management positions within the world of finance. Various titles for accounting managers can include:

  • Budget Director
  • Manager of Internal Auditing
  • Chief Comptroller
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Cost Accountant, and many more.

Professional accountants with the highest qualifications can rise to pinnacle positions, such as CEO (chief executive officer) or corporation president.

As with many other professions, the higher the level of education, the greater the possibilities for career advancement. An inexperienced accountant with an associate degree may be qualified to apply for entry-level jobs; however, a management position in accounting typically demands a bachelor's degree at minimum. Top executive positions generally require a master's degree in accounting or even a PhD.

Higher education alone does not suffice to make a career in accounting management. Certifications are a key factor for success, and the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is the number one certification required for a professional career. It is virtually impossible to enter an accounting management position without a CPA license.

To advance within specialty areas of accounting management, such as forensics or tax auditing, CPAs will often seek additional certifications from recognized accounting organizations. One example is the CMA (Certified Management Accountant), a title awarded to qualified candidates by the Institute of Management Accountants. Other specialty certifications can include Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and several others.

Experience is another critical factor for career advancement. In fact, only highly-experienced CPAs can apply for specialty certifications. A few solid years of experience as a trainee or junior accountant makes a good foundation for advancement. Experienced CPAs become qualified for accounting manager positions by completing graduate degrees and achieving specialty certifications.


Accounts Payable Clerk

  • An accounts payable clerk is responsible for paying the bills of a business enterprise. The responsibilities and educational requirements vary with the needs of the business. Smaller businesses require that the accounts payable clerk to pay all bills of the enterprise, but businesses with large accounting staffs may require an accounts payable clerk to record and pay invoices using the purchases journal.
  • Educational Requirements
  • Businesses with Large Accounting Staff - Since the responsibilities of an accounts payable clerk in businesses with a large accounting staff are limited, the clerks educational requirements may be only a high school diploma or GED. The clerk is trained to verify invoices, record them in the purchases journal, and make certain that they are paid on time. In addition, the clerk is taught the significance of discounts, and the method used to remind clerks to pay invoices within the discount period. Transactions are usually approved by the accounting supervisor.The purchases journal is used to record purchases of inventory items purchased on account. If cash is used to pay for inventory items, the entry is recorded in the cash journal. The accounts payable clerk is responsible for reconciling the invoices with the paid invoices at the end of each accounting period.
  • Chances for advancement are somewhat limited without additional education. Online or evening classes will increase chances for advancement within the business.
  • Businesses with Small Accounting Staff - When the accounting staff is smaller, the accounts payable clerk has more responsibilities. Businesses in this category will usually require an associate degree in accounting or finance. An associate degree requires approximately two years to complete. The degree is offered at universities, community colleges, vocational and technical schools. Accounts payable clerks with associate degrees are responsible for paying all bills. Under the supervision of the accounting supervisor, accounts payable clerks maintain and compile all payable records. In addition, the clerk works with vendors and service providers to reconcile purchase orders and invoices. Since some or all of the work may be computerized, the clerk may need some knowledge of accounting software programs.
  • In addition, the clerk may be required to compile various financial and organizational reports. Some clerks are required to issue 1099 Misc forms and compile tax information.
  • Accounts payable clerks who hold associate degrees in accounting or finance may advance to auditing, taxes, financing or other branches of the accounting profession.
Accounts Payable Clerks’ Salaries

Salaries for accounts payable clerks vary according to location. In the United States, the salary range is $24,000 to $42,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accounting clerks in 2012 was over $36,000.

Value to the Company

The accounts payable clerk is vital to the company. Retail businesses must sell their inventories to earn revenue. Purchasing and paying for the inventory items in a timely manner is vital to the operation of the business. In addition, current and long term liabilities are essential in determining the financial position of the business. The reduction of current liabilities increases working capital. If working capital is not adequate, the business must borrow cash to continue operations. The accuracy and efficiency of the accounts payable clerk’s work can increase the company’s profits. Although a high school diploma or GED qualifies a person for the position, the clerk can do excellent work and rise in the organization.


Accounts Receivable Clerk

  • A business organization should keep track of all payments that are made to their establishment. This provides information for a business to maintain a record of clients who have invoices that are outstanding. Tracking payments helps determine how much money the company receives.
  • Incoming payments are verified, classified, computed and recorded by an accounts receivable clerk. Bank deposits are prepared for all payments that are received via cash, checks, money orders, credit cards or debit cards. An account receivable clerk may contact clients about past due bills and help with concerns about an account. An accounts receivable clerk is responsible for keeping track of each client's account, ensuring that payments are posted accurately, updating files and verifying data.
Education Requirements

Employers may seek individuals who have an associates degree in accounting or an advanced degree in accounting. Some employers might hire an individual who has completed college-level accounting courses. Most employers prefer individuals with prior working experience in accounts receivables or accounting. Employers might provide new accounts receivables clerks some on the job training to get familiar with the policies and procedures of the company.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accounts receivable clerk makes approximately $36,000 a year. Accounts receivable clerks may work in small, medium-sized or large offices with various opportunities for advancement into management or supervisory positions. The accounting clerks position is expected to grow about 14% over the next ten years. This is the average rate for all occupations. The key to job growth in the accounting field is driven by the overall economic growth.


Bookkeeping

  • There is a wide assortment of different careers in accounting that people can pursue to improve their career standing, possibly earn more money and enjoy their quality of life more. Bookkeeping is one of these career paths that will allow all individuals the opportunity to work in a fast paced career lifestyle in the accounting field. One of the key benefits of this position is that most of these jobs are fulfilled by people with a high school education, and the BLS reports that in 2012 the average salary is about $36,000.00 per year.
  • The primary responsibilities for a bookkeeper include using software, spreadsheets and online databases. The duties also include posting financial transactions. In many cases, the bookkeeper is responsible for receiving and recording all of the cash, check and voucher transactions that take place in the business. The accounting career information that the bookkeeper learns also includes putting debits and credits into the software for the appropriate account. These job skills vary by employer. Some bookkeepers will be required to produce financial reports, balance sheets, income statements and totals for multiple accounts. If there are any discrepancies in the statements that the bookkeeper creates, the individual will also report this information to his or her direct superior. The responsibilities are extremely important to the overall function of the business, and that is why the job outlook for bookkeepers is likely to grow 14% in the next eight years (according to the BLS).
  • This career fits into the accounting world because the job requires a great deal of mathematical accuracy and work. It is imperative that bookkeepers work directly with the accountants on a daily basis and provide timely and accurate information. The opportunity for advancement is possible with a great work ethic and some advanced training. It is possible that with the right amount of experience and education, a bookkeeper could become an accountant or auditor. Some bookkeepers may also go through the process to become a Certified Bookkeeper. This process involves at least two years of bookkeeping experience, a four hour exam and an adherence to the code of ethics.
Become a Bookkeeper
  • To become a bookkeeper, a high school diploma or equivalent is usually required. The position requires a solid mathematical skill set and technological capabilities. Potential employers will be looking for someone to hire that also has great interpersonal skills and great attention to detail. A college education is not typically required to attain this position, but continued education only helps anyone that is a candidate for the job. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics suggested that about 25% of all bookkeepers had at least an Associate's Degree in the accounting field. Much of the training for the position will be on-the-job, but the prerequisites required to perform many of the tasks can be learned with the advanced degree. It is possible for many bookkeepers to receive more training with the help of the employer, but that is not always a viable option. There are numerous careers in accounting, so anyone looking for these types of positions should be able to find a great job placement.
  • About 25 percent of all bookkeepers work full-time, but that number is increasing as more businesses require accurate data information. Some accounting assistants also work extended hours during the busiest times of the years. Bookkeepers that work with tax preparers may find extra hours during tax season, and retail bookkeepers may find extra work throughout the holiday seasons. Most of these positions are placed in offices or cubicles. It is imperative that the individual has the proper computer skills to get the work done as quickly and accurately as possible. Many future bookkeepers may want to take a few courses in accounting from local universities to improve the chances of landing a job in the accounting field.
  • The opportunity to become a bookkeeper is possible for anyone that is looking to find a great career or change careers. The work is steady and the opportunity for growth is possible.

  • Budget Analyst

    A budget analyst is only one of many careers in accounting. Budget analysis involves correlation between project goals and budgetary concerns. Paraphrased, a budget analyst helps organize a business's or organization's finances. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one definition includes preparing budget reports and monitoring spending.

    Budget Analyst Education Requirements
    • Typically, employers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting, and some require a master's degree in accounting. Developing budgets require very strong analytical, numerical and accounting skills, most degree programs for this career includes statistics and advanced mathematical courses. If public service appeals to you, any bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for an entry-level position in budget analysis for the federal government. State governments, though, often require a baccalaureate degree specifically within an accounting, public administration, business or economics fields. You might successfully substitute verifiable work experience for some or all of the formal education requirements.
    • Due to the complexity and high standards for accuracy, on-the-job training requirements can extend through a full year of supervised training for entry-level positions before working unsupervised.
    • If federal government service is your goal, you will probably be required to earn not only your entry-level degree but also the Certified Government Financial Manager credential, given after testing by the Association of Government Accountants. Certification is possible after 24 hours of financial management study, two years of professional experience in financial management for the government and successful completion of a test series. To keep your certification, you must complete 80 hours of continuing education every two years.
    Budget Analyst Salary Estimates and Job Outlook
    • As with virtually any career, salary expectations can increase with education and experience. The last published figures by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, for budget analysts in 2012, the median annual salary was $68,200. The highest salaries ranged near $101,600 annually. The lowest 10 percent of budget analysts earned less than $44,860 per year.
    • Positions for this job description within the federal government included the highest percentage at 21 percent. Educational services ranked second with 14 percent of job holders in the field. Manufacturing claimed 10 percent of these careers in accounting. Between federal, state and local governments, public service claimed the highest percentage of budget analysts at 43 percent, an important consideration when evaluating accounting career information.

    Certified Internal Auditor

    Explore a Career as an Internal Auditor

    Among the variety of accounting careers, the role of a certified internal auditor is an exceedingly vital position because of the responsibility to monitor a company's financial records for accuracy. According to accounting career information found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in accounting employment is anticipated to be approximately 16 percent above last year, which is slightly above average for employment in the United States.

    Learn About the Job Responsibilities of an Internal Auditor

    Certified internal auditors (CIAs) work within an organization such as government departments or private businesses to examine financial records for accuracy and mismanagement. Other types of work performed by CIAs, as listed by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, include:

    • observing industry trends
    • tracking revenues and expenditures
    • making efficiency recommendations
    • offering financial planning recommendations to upper management

    One specific branch of internal auditing is in information technology. Accountants in these positions will combine their background experience in accounting and computer technology to asses IT managements risks and security . They review controls for an organization’s financial computer records systems, evaluating and analyzing financial data and ensuring it is gathered from reliable computer sources. Information technology internal auditors also frequently analyze computer security regarding financial record keeping.

    Internal Auditor Education Opportunities

    Like many careers in accounting, the minimum education requirement for certified internal auditors is an undergraduate degree in accounting, finance or business administration. Internal auditing is an accounting major that several universities now offer and may provide an advantage for job applicants over applicants with a general accounting degree. Individuals seeking advancement may also consider earning a graduate degree in finance or accounting. Many employers require an MBA for management-level financial positions. Additionally, employers tend to look favorably upon job applicants with an MBA based on the training this degree requires.

    Learn About the Licensing and Certification Requirements for Internal Auditors

    Licensing as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is not required for most internal auditor positions. Many employers, however, favor CPA certification, since it requires passing four rigorous exams. Qualification to sit for the CPA exam requires additional education beyond the standard undergraduate accounting degree. Additionally, CPA certification requires continuing education. Additionally, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers advanced certification for auditors. To qualify for the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), candidates must graduate from an accredited university or college, have two years of work experience as an internal auditor and must pass a four-part test. Other forms of certification offered by the IIA include:

    • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
    • Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA)
    • Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

    For accounting auditors specializing in information technology, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) offers certification as a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). Candidates for this certification must have five years of experience in auditing information systems and pass an examination. Experience financial, operational auditing or information systems and related college credit can be substituted for no more than two years of work experience in the field of information systems security, control or auditing.

    Explore Advancement Opportunities as an Internal Auditor

    Many entry level certified internal auditors advance in their job positions within one to two years. Advancing further into senior internal auditor positions often occurs within five years for accountants who do well. Individuals who move into senior management positions can become mangers, supervisors or partners in an accounting firm. They may also decide to open their own public accounting firm or consulting organization.

    For individuals who want to advance in the accounting field, earning an MBA provides opportunities to move into higher management positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with an MBA can potentially move into top executive positions.

    Financial Outlook for Internal Auditing Positions

    According to accounting career information from the BLS, entry level certified internal auditors can expect to earn an average salary of approximately $71,000 per year. Individuals with extensive work experience and training can earn well above entry level salaries. For individuals who have earned an MBA in accounting or finance, earnings potential can significantly increase and be in excess of $110,000 per year. Those employed in top level executive positions often earn an annual income of more than $130,000 year and higher.

    If you are considering careers in accounting, earning an undergraduate degree in accounting, finance or auditing is a major initial stepping stone in your career. Becoming certified as a CPA and Certified Internal Auditor will provide you with more employment opportunities and options for advancement, as will earning an MBA.


    Chief Financial Officer - CFO

    Chief Financial Officer Job Description

    A chief financial officer (CFO) plays a vital role in a company's overall success. The CFO is responsible for advising board members and the company's chief executive officer (CEO) about financial transactions that ultimately affect the direction of the company. If you choose to seek employment as a chief financial officer, you need to combine an extensive amount of experience with a strong proven working knowledge of the following:

    • investment strategies
    • taxes
    • business taxes
    • finance operations
    • general business skills
    • computer Information systems
    • modern accounting issues
    • financial accounting
    CFO's are responsible for a number of operations within a company, including, but not limited to:
    • establishing yearly financial objectives
    • overseeing the budgetary planning
    • developing strategic, tactical and executive initiatives
    • building relationships and engaging with investors, auditors, and key stakeholders

    As CFO, one must be certain all financial reporting for the company is complete and accurate, so it pays to have a strong background in a number of accounting career fields. Because of the nature of work that a CFO deals with on a daily basis, a number of interpersonal skills are required, including: strong leadership and analytical skills, the ability to communicate professionally and to work effectively under pressure.

    Education Required to Become a CFO

    Most people who advance to the level of CFO have a minimum of a master's degree in accounting, tax and auditing, investing or finance. In addition to the master's degree and several years of work experience, chief financial officers typically are licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as well. As you earn your degree, some of the courses you can expect to complete include the following:

    • Applied Statistics
    • Auditing
    • Business Taxes
    • Corporate Financial Reporting
    • Computer Information Systems
    • Financial Accounting
    Although there are no continued education opportunities once you hit this coveted status, CFO's are urged to participate in the American Society of Association Executives, the U.S. Chief Finanacial Officers Council and The CFO Alliance to continue to grow professionally.

    Career Outlook

    Even with an advanced degree, you are not likely to become a CFO early on in your career. Along with a lot of hard work, it usually entails up to 10 years of increasingly responsible managerial positions before you can be considered a viable CFO candidate. Positions you are likely to hold include:

    • Senior Accountant
    • Vice President of Finance
    • President of Finance

    Accounting Salary and Career Outlook for Chief Financial Officers

    The latest BLS statistics reported that the average accounting salary of CFO's is over $176,000, making it a highly sought after goal for most accounting professionals to obtain. Similar to most all other professions, a CFO's salary will ultimately depend on the education level, experience, past success of the candidate as well as the company itself. Looking at the BLS, the job growth for all top executives, including CFO's, is anticipated at five percent annually through the end of this decade. While this growth rate is substantially lower than that of other careers, it should not come as a surprise. Top management positions do not grow at the same rate as other positions because fewer people vacate top management positions to move on to something else. Often times, those who have attained the level of CFO may desire to stay there for the remainder of their careers.


    Comptroller/Controller

    What is a Controller?

    Each business has an accounting department, and within it are various functions they handle. However there is one person, who is the overseer of the entire department and that person, is the comptroller. The controller, or comptroller, (these are used interchangeably) is the chief accountant. He or she is responsible for all of the company’s monetary inflow and outflow. Comptrollers are also used by the government, with massive accounting departments. If the business is small, then the comptroller handles many of the different areas. If the company is large, then the comptroller’s main function is to oversee the entire department. They make sure that all of the bookkeeping is in order. A part of their job description is to work very closely with the chief financial officer. The most important function of the comptroller is to perform audits. They must keep track of all financial transactions that take place within the business. Some of the other areas they handle include budget analysis, taxes, and financial statements. They handle any spending that takes place and are responsible for suggesting what the company can spend. Purchasing, payroll, and all aspects of accounting are the responsibility of the comptroller. They help in planning future acquisitions, and they give their advice on future plans a business may have in that area. They also have the responsibility of preparing the financial statements of the company. Some of the other things they do are to analyze the income and spending habits of the company, they help with financial planning and in general they help maintain the healthy well being of the company’s financial status.

    Careers in this field are a financial Comptroller. Under this heading is a bank examiner, and there are several careers under this heading. Asset management specialist works in this area, and they must be familiar with private banking, securities, lending, and security holder services. They must also, have knowledge of the laws and regulations governing these areas. Banking information technology specialist is another aspect of bank examiners. They must stay on top of trends involving bank operations and information systems management.

    Another highly specialized area includes senior policy accountant. Their responsibility is to develop and interpret the accounting principles of national banks. They teach in schools and prepare presentations for industry conferences. They also, interact with other accountants and regulators around the world. In order to become an accountant, there are certain requirements that are necessary. Interested individuals must have at least a bachelor’s degree. If they are trying to become a CPA, they must take the four part CPA exam. This exam has a degree of difficulty, and many of those, who take it, do not pass all four parts when they take the test. It is not required that the candidate passes all four parts at the initial test, but they must pass all four parts within eighteen months of taking the test. Those, who do pass can have great careers in accounting. Aside from the bachelor’s degree a prospective candidate must have certain amount of accounting and business courses. Colleges and universities usually offer both the bachelor’s degree and the 150 degree program required for the CPA exam. Some important accounting career information to remember are that this is a very intense field in which to work. The courses are intense. The successful candidate has to be able to handle involved financial concepts. It is a good idea to start early. A good time to prepare is in high school. Take courses geared toward college prep. Also, take any advanced AP classes that are available. This will provide the individual with an advantage before they get to college.
    The field of accounting and auditing is one of those areas the experts expect to grow faster than many other occupations. There is a lot of accounting career information for those who are thinking about going into the field. Careers in accounting, especially those in the area of a comptroller are continuing to expand. There are many opportunities to grow as an individual in this field, and there are many certificates that can enable the right candidate to move up.

    As, the laws continue to change and businesses continue to grow, different careers in accounting will always have a need for qualified auditors and CPAs. The work environment is usually a forty hour work week, and the median salary is approximately $71,040, according to 2012 BLS statistics. This is a highly specialized field and anyone entering into this field will find it very challenging, exciting, and rewarding.


    CPA

    If you are considering a career in accounting, working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) could be a fulfilling and lucrative choice. In a recent survey conducted by the AICPA, in which more than 1,200 CPAs across the country were polled, there was a three percent increase in the number of companies expecting to increase hiring for accounting professionals. This shows an increased optimism among accounting management executives and signals a good sign for students looking to pursue a career as a CPA.

    Certified Public Accountants Job Description

    A CPA handles a wide range of duties, from filing taxes for individuals and corporations to financial planning services. A CPA who performs financial planning services for either an individual or a corporation typically assists clients with a number of financial functions, including:

    • public accounting
    • asset management
    • tax planning services
    • risk assessment and management
    • financial compliance
    • performing internal reviews

    As a CPA, you will have numerous career setting available to choose from such as public accounting, corporate accounting, government, non-profit and academia.

    Education Overview for Certified Public Accountants

    The vast majority of careers in accounting require that you have at least a bachelor's degree. While you are earning your degree, you may wish to take classes that will help you reach your goal of becoming a CPA. In a typical four-year accounting degree program, you can expect approximately half of the credits to come from liberal arts courses and the other half to be related specifically to accounting. These courses may include the following:

    • Spreadsheets
    • Macroeconomics
    • Databases
    • Statistics
    • Logic and Critical Thinking Skills

    Towards the end of your bachelor degree program, you should have the opportunity to complete an accounting internship. This will provide you with practical, hands-on experience in your chosen field. In many cases, internships can lead to a paying position. If your intern supervisor is unable to offer you a position, he or she can be a valuable reference for you when you apply for jobs in the future.
    Another thing to consider before you enroll in a degree program is how well it fits into your current schedule. If you are already working full-time, attending classes online would be ideal. This gives you the opportunity to work around your schedule, while still receiving the same quality of education as students who attend classes on campus. If your schedule is more flexible, you may want to consider a combination of online and on-campus classes. The important thing is to find a school that understands your situation and is willing to accommodate you.

    CPA Licensing Requirements

    Depending on your state of residence, you may need to work for a certain number of months or years before you can sit for the CPA exam. Be certain to find out this important accounting career information while you are still in school. You don't want to graduate with the false assumption that you can take the CPA exam right away.

    After ensuring that you meet eligibility requirements, you must contact the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to request to take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam. Assuming you pass, your next step is to find out how many continuing education credits you must complete every year to maintain your status as a CPA.

    How Much Can You Make as a CPA?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for all professionals in the accounting field was approximately $71,000 in 2012. This includes everyone from entry level accounting clerks to senior auditors. There are many factors that affect your salary as a CPA, including the size of the firm and how quickly you are able to advance. Your geographic location also plays a factor in the starting salary you will be offered as a CPA.

    CPA Career Outlook

    The field of accountancy in general should see an annual increase of 16 percent a year, according to the BLS. Some of the reasons for the high demand include growing corporate scandals, more individuals and private organizations in financial crisis and stricter financial laws and regulations. In an increasingly global economy, people with experience in international accounting will have the best job prospects. Those who have earned the designation of CPA can expect a career outlook that is similar to accountancy in general.

    Forensic Accounting

    Forensic accounting is a specialized accounting career that focuses on analyzing financial information to detect if a white collar crime has taken place within an organization. Accountants who choose to go into this type of investigative accounting combine their understanding of the law with their knowledge of finance and accounting. Forensic accounting has become a growing field in recent years because of an increased awareness for financial discrepancies within corporations. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accoutants, (AICPA) forensic accounting is one of the most rapid growing, niche specialties in accounting and there will continue to be a high demand for these professionals.

    Forensic Accounting Employment Opportunities

    The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners credits the need for more forensic accountants to the heightened intolerance for fraudulent activity. Thus, forensic accountants are no longer solely needed in an accounting firm's forensic division, but are finding employment in a number of other settings, including:

    • government agencies
    • law firms
    • financial institutions
    • consulting firms

    Accountants make an average salary,according to the BLS, of $61,000 a year. Adding a specialty like "Forensic" can increase salary greatly but will vary based on the company, location, experience and education level.

    Forensic Accounting Job Description

    A forensic accountant will analyze and investigate financial evidence to look for signs that a crime such as embezzlement, securities fraud or bankruptcy was committed. Forensic accountants are not responsible for determining fraud; rather they identify inconsistencies and anomalies by providing the “who, what, where, how and why” so that the court can determine fraud.

    Forensic accountants, who are often times referred to as investigative auditors, fraud investigators or forensic auditors, may be asked to:

    • trace funds
    • identify assets
    • prepare reports of financial analysis findings
    • present financial findings reports in court as an expert witness
    In a recent survey conducted by the AICPA the most essential characteristics for a forensic accountant to have are:
    • being analytical
    • detail oriented
    • ethical
    • effective oral communication skills
    Other traits that are beneficial for a forensic accountant to possess include being objective, credible and independent.

    Forensic Accounting Career Path

    To become a forensic accountant, one must have obtained a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting, but most forensic accountants have a master's degree. Numerous schools also give students the option to pursue an undergraduate degree in forensic accounting. As a student studying to become a forensic accountant, you can expect to take a number of courses in the following areas:

    • Accounting
    • Business
    • Law
    • Fraud Auditing
    Many schools also offer programs for a forensic accounting certificate, which includes courses such as:
    • Interview Techniques and Legal Aspects of Fraud
    • Principles of Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
    • Investigating with the Computer
    • Detection and Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements
    These programs will allow the student to qualify to sit for the Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) exam and the Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) exam. These are globally recognized credentials in the anti fraud and accounting profession. In May of 2013, the AICPA announced an online certificate program for already registered CPA's interested in forensic accounting that would result in a Forensic Accounting Education Certificate. Although it is not required, a number of employers encourage forensic accountants to become a Certified Fraud Examiner, Chartered Accountant or Certified Public Accountant.

    Government Accounting

    A career in government accounting can be both lucrative and personally rewarding. As you gather accounting career information, you may want to pay special attention to this type of career. There are numerous career possibilities in government accounting, although you can expect stronger competition for open positions. That is why it is essential to carefully plan your educational and career path now.

    Educational Requirements to Become an Accountant for the Government

    Most accounting positions at the government level require you to have at least a bachelor degree and sometimes even a master's degree. In addition to possessing a college degree in accounting, there are also several personal attributes that will make you successful in this role. These include:

    • Strong mathematical and analytical skills.
    • Ability to work with the public and remain calm under pressure.
    • The highest level of professional integrity.
    • Strong communication skills and detail orientation.
    These skills are just as important to your success as anything you learn during your degree program. This is valuable accounting career information for you to remember. The courses you complete while attending college depend in large part on your specific accounting interest. You typically have the option of selecting a path for financial, management or income tax accounting. In addition to selecting a core focus, you can specialize in government accounting or another area. Some of the classes that are required for all types of accounting majors include financial regulations and control systems, research methods, ethics and macroeconomics. You may also be required to pursue certification after graduation depending on your specific career interest.

    Accounting Career Options at the Government Level

    The Department of the Treasury has 13 separate divisions that require the services of a trained accountant. Two of the most prevalent positions include Assistant Examiners and Treasury Enforcement Agents. Assistant Examiners are assigned to various thrift institutions to evaluate the organization's general practices, management and financial soundness. To do this, Assistant Examiners review internal records, prepare reports and make specific recommendations for improvements. All of this information gets reported back to the federal government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 2012 average annual accounting salary of just over $60,000 for tax examiners.
    Treasury Enforcement Agents work with four different branches of the federal government. These include the United States Customs Service, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the United States Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In this role, you would be responsible for investigation and surveillance along with typical accounting duties. Treasury Enforcement Agents fall into the same general job classification as Assistant Examiners and therefore have the same accounting salary range and job outlook.
    Internal auditors with the IRS help to ensure that the organization complies with all federal laws and is also responsible for safeguarding its assets. People who work as revenue agents investigate individual and corporate tax returns to be certain they have been completed accurately. If there are errors or the deliberate withholding of information, it is the job of revenue agents to contact the taxpayer or business until the return is correct. Accountants at this level earn approximately $62,000 a year. The job outlook for internal auditors and revenue agents is 16 percent annually according to the BLS. These careers represent just some of the opportunities that are available to accountants at the federal government level. Other possibilities include working for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the government's General Accounting Office (GAO) or any branch of the Armed Forces.

    Payroll Clerk

    Payroll clerks are responsible for making sure businesses pay employees on time and accurately. They collect and organize records such as time sheets which are usually entered into a computer for processing. Controlling of all aspects of payroll that relate to yearly salaries and hourly wages, sick days, vacation and overtime pay fit into the duties of a payroll clerk.

    You will find payroll clerks in practically every field. As well as managing time sheets and payroll distribution, they may have other responsibilities that include:

    • light bookkeeping
    • faxing documents
    • answering telephones and
    • greeting visitors
    When it concerns a company's payroll, they also help to ensure the correct amount of withholding tax is deducted. Many also handle paycheck direct deposit to each employee's bank account.

    Generally, the skills required to work as a payroll clerk include typing proficiency and the ability to pay attention to detail. It also helps to have a good understanding of computers and math. Apart from being motivated, professional and organized, the ideal candidate should be able to either work closely as a team member or alone. A few other areas of expertise may include strong customer service talent and the capability to meet close deadlines.

    Payroll clerks usually do not require having any type of formal education besides a high school diploma. Some companies may desire that the candidate have prior office or clerical experience before hiring them. As this is considered an entry-level position, most businesses provide on-the-job training. The primary prerequisite for this position is a positive attitude and a sound work ethic.
    It is possible for a payroll clerk to increase their industry knowledge and advance their career by becoming certified. Advanced training is available through industry-wide professional organizations. By taking a written proficiency examination the payroll clerk can receive official recognition as a Certified Payroll Professional. The expected median salary, according to the 2012 BLS, of a payroll clerk is over $38,000. However, this figure can fluctuate depending on the size of the company, number of hours worked and location. Some clerks are hired as temporary employees during the busy season or work for smaller firms. As a payroll clerk gains experience in the industry they can expect an increase in pay. This is especially the case for workers that have five or more years invested in managing payrolls.


    Staff Accountant

    Employment as a staff accounting is often an entry level position for many people who have recently graduated with an undergraduate business degree. According to accounting career information resource, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for careers in the accounting field continue to be in demand, a trend that is not expected to change in the coming decade.

    Staff Accountant Job Duties

    A staff accountant can work in government agencies or private sector businesses and financial services firms. As a staff accountant, you will be monitoring financial data and tracking financial activities for an organization. Many staff accountants are responsible for preparing financial reports for managers and supervisors which are used in making financial decisions

    Staff Accountant Educational Requirements
    • Almost all staff accountant positions require an undergraduate degree in accounting or business finance. At the entry level, students may be offered the opportunity to participate in internship programs between their junior and senior year of college. If they are successful during an internship, they may be offered permanent employment before or immediately after graduation.
    • Opportunities for advancement are more readily available to individuals who have earned a graduate degree in accounting or finance. An MBA provides specific training beyond an undergraduate degree that many employers find attractive in potential job candidates. Unlike an undergraduate degree, which provides an education in accounting theory, a graduate degree provides actual experience applying accounting and managerial concepts through course work projects.
    Staff Accountant Certification
    • Although not required in all accountant positions, earning certification as a passing a four-part examination and additional university course work in accounting. Many colleges offer a combination undergraduate/graduate degree which fulfills the educational requirements for the CPA examination. Certain accounting and finance positions are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and require CPA certification.
    • With two years of accounting experience, you can sit for certification as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). This certification requires passing a four-part examination, similar to that required for CPA certification. Both the CPA and CMA require continuing education and maintaining professional and ethical standards regulated by certification agencies.
    Staff Accountant Advancement

    Although an undergraduate degree provides entry level employment opportunities for staff accountants, earning an advanced degree and certification opens doors for potential advancement opportunities. Advancement for staff accountants includes moving from junior accountant to senior accountant positions. Entry level accountants who do well can expect to advance in responsibility within one to two years. With excellent performance, it is possible to rise to management and supervisory accounting positions within five years or less. Many top level executives have a background in finance and began their career as accountants.

    Staff Accountant Salary
    • According to accounting career information resource, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earn over $71,000 per year. With advanced training, certification and education, you can expect an accounting salary to increase substantially. Individuals with an MBA in accounting make an accounting salary of almost $100,000 year. With management experience, top executives often earn more than $130,000 per year.
    • Accountants will continue to be in demand as long as businesses and government continue to exist. Accountants monitor and maintain healthy financial functioning of the organizations they work for, performing routine financial transactions and creating reports for managers. If you are contemplating earning a degree in accounting, the potential exists for a long lasting and lucrative career in a wide variety of industries. If you excel with financial management and obtain certification, you can move into management positions, increasing your earning capacity substantially. Having a firm grasp of accounting principals is also a great foundation for many entrepreneurs who go on to start their own successful business.

    Tax Accountant

    As you look through accounting career information, there may be several potential careers that you are considering pursuing. If you enjoy working with taxes to help people maximize their refund or minimize the amount they owe, then a career as a tax accountant may be right for you. Some of the accounting career information that you should consider before making this decision includes:

    • tax accounting salary
    • education requirements
    • duties performed
    • typical career advancement

    Tax Accountant Job Description

    Tax accountants focus on the planning, analysis and presentation of tax returns and payments, specifically with local, state and federal taxes for individuals and businesses. A number of tax accountants choose to work in large corporations to ensure that the company follows all tax laws and files accurate returns at the end of each year. Other options include being self-employed to work with clients on a one-to-one basis to prepare their tax returns or working for a tax company such as:

    • H&R Block
    • Liberty Tax Service
    • Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
    Tax accountants are more than just number people and must be able to communicate abstract concepts to clients. One of the most important skills you need to possess to work in tax accounting includes the ability to formulate various tax strategies to benefit your client. Other skills necessary to be successful in tax accounting include:
    • high ethical standards
    • a detailed working knowledge of federal income tax laws
    • a passion for research
    "We tend to think of accountants as numbers people, but a good accountant does more than just figure the numbers. A good accountant will communicate what the numbers mean to us." -Ed Lyon, co-founder of the American Institute for Certified Tax Coaches

    Tax Accounting Education Overview

    There are a few different educational paths for you to consider if you are thinking about a career in tax accounting. Most employers require tax accountants to have at least a bachelor degree in accounting or a related field. Those who pursue a master's in accounting will decide to specialize in tax preparation or auditing. You may also wish to pursue designation as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). At this level, you will study financial topics more in-depth. Some of the courses offered include preparing financial statements, cost-benefit analysis and capital management. Another possibility is to take a certificate program that prepares you for entry-level work as a tax preparer. These programs are offered at most community colleges and universities. Some of the coursework you can expect to complete at this level included the following:

    • Taxes for corporations.
    • Estate taxes.
    • Payroll taxes.
    • Capital gains.
    • Tax issues facing people who are retiring.
    • How to interview taxpayers.
    • How to determine filing status and exemptions.
    • How to interpret tax schedules.
    • How to calculate refunds and amounts due.
    With a bachelor degree in accounting, you are prepared to take on a supervisory or tax auditing role sooner than you would be with a certificate alone.

    Regardless of which option you decide to pursue, tax accountants are required to become licensed CPAsto stay in regulation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, one must also register with the federal government as a tax preparer. You will receive a Preparer Tax Identification Number(PTIN) that must be used on all returns you help to prepare on behalf of your clients.

    Career Outlook and Pay in Tax Accounting

    When it comes to accounting salary, people who work for the federal government tend to report higher wages than those who work for a private corporation or are self-employed. A 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that tax accountants earned a median annual salary of nearly $41,000 that year. The range included entry-level accountants earning approximately $39,000 per year to senior-level accounting managers earning more than $100,000 annually. The growth rate for the field of accounting is anticipated to be 16 percent annually from now until the year 2020. This percentage is about average for all types of occupations combined. Two of the factors that are driving the demand for qualified tax accountants are the increasing complexity of tax laws and a large number of people reaching retirement age at the same time. Taxpayers need assistance in understanding the tax ramifications of certain financial decisions in order to ensure that they enjoy a secure future.

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