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If you love spreadsheets, numbers and calculations, and excel in all of these fields, a career as an accountant might be a viable option for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants have an expected career growth of 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. The national median annual wage for accountants and auditors in 2013 was $65,080, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned up to $40,370 and the highest-paid 10 percent earned at least $113,740.
Accounting careers can involve more than just checking financial statements and computing taxes owed. Some accountants help their clients or even entire corporations with financial planning, budgeting, and other important business decisions. Some of the roles open to trained and certified accountants include:
Management accountants, also known as corporate accountants, document and analyze financial information within a given business. Management accountants also sometimes serve as advisors for business leaders in such areas as budget planning, asset management, cost controls and corporate taxes. Corporate accountants are important for a business because they help a company measure its performance, where it can save money internally, and how to make optimal financial decisions.
Government accountants are like corporate accountants in that they help manage the financial aspects of government agencies, including budget, revenue, cost and investment decisions. Government accountants can also monitor the spending of publicly funded programs and organizations and/or ensure that citizens' taxes are paid in full and on time.
Internal auditors work in organizations to monitor the use of an organization's funds. Internal auditors also work to optimize the processes within an organization in order to prevent or eliminate wasteful or fraudulent spending.
Training to become an accountant
Becoming an accountant requires rigorous training and certification. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training to become an accountant typically requires earning a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or a related field. Some colleges and universities offer accounting degree programs with specialization options, such as a bachelor's degree in corporate accounting, internal auditing or information technology auditing.
According to the BLS, some people with associate degrees in accounting, bookkeeping or a related field might be able to advance to accounting positions after working for a period of time as a junior accountant or entry-level bookkeeper. Students in accounting programs should also consider getting practical experience in accounting through summer or part-time internships with businesses and accounting firms.
In addition to earning a college degree in a financial subject, some accountants choose to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in their state. CPAs and other accountants with professional recognition may have greater job opportunities than accountants without the CPA certification, according to the BLS.
"Occupational Employment Statistics: Accountants and Auditors," bls.gov, May 2013, hhttp://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
"Occupational Outlook Handbook: Accountants and Auditors," bls.gov, 8 January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
"The Uniform CPA Examination: Purpose and Structure ," aicpa.org, American Institute of CPAs http://www.aicpa.org/BecomeACPA/CPAExam/ExamOverview/PurposeandStructure/Pages/default.aspxAbout the Author
Kaitlin Louie writes for several websites, including Edref.com.