2018 median Pay for Accounting , Accountancy
The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $70,500 in May 2018.
Although they complete much of their work alone, they sometimes work in teams with other accountants and auditors. Accountants and auditors may travel to their clients’ places of business. Work Schedules Most accountants and auditors work full time. In 2016, about 1 in 5 worked more than 40 hours per week. Longer periods of work are typical at certain times of the year, such as at the end of the budget year or during tax season.
Number of Jobs for Accounting , Accountancy
Number of Jobs in 2018 was 1,397,700
Job Outlook for Accounting , Accountancy
Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. In general, employment growth of accountants and auditors is expected to be closely tied to the health of the overall economy. As the economy grows, more workers should be needed to prepare and examine financial records.
Job description of Accounting , Accountancy
Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.
Accountants and auditors typically do the following:
- Examine financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations
- Compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time
- Inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures
- Organize and maintain financial records
- Assess financial operations and make best-practices recommendations to management
- Suggest ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits
In addition to examining and preparing financial documentation, accountants and auditors must explain their findings. This includes preparing written reports and meeting face-to-face with organization managers and individual clients.
Many accountants and auditors specialize, depending on the particular organization that they work for. Some work for organizations that specialize in assurance services (improving the quality or context of information for decisionmakers) or risk management (determining the probability of a misstatement on financial documentation). Other organizations specialize in specific industries, such as healthcare.
The following are examples of types of accountants and auditors:
Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks. Their clients include corporations, governments, and individuals.
Public accountants work with financial documents that clients are required by law to disclose. These include tax forms and balance sheet statements that corporations must provide to potential investors. For example, some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, advising corporations about the tax advantages of certain business decisions or preparing individual income tax returns.
Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Publicly traded companies are required to have CPAs sign documents they submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including annual and quarterly reports.
Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and potentially criminal financial transactions. Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
Management accountants, also called cost, managerial, industrial, corporate, or private accountants, record and analyze the financial information of the organizations for which they work. The information that management accountants prepare is intended for internal use by business managers, not by the general public.
Management accountants often work on budgeting and performance evaluation. They also may help organizations plan the cost of doing business. Some may work with financial managers on asset management, which involves planning and selecting financial investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
Government accountants maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by federal, state, and local governments ensure that revenues are received and spent in accordance with laws and regulations.
Internal auditors check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds. They identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud. The practice of internal auditing is not regulated, but The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) provides generally accepted standards.
External auditors perform similar duties to internal auditors, but are employed by an outside organization, rather than the one they are auditing. They review clients’ financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported.
Information technology auditors are internal auditors who review controls for their organization’s computer systems to ensure that the financial data comes from a reliable source.
How to become Accounting , Accountancy
Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification, including the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, can improve job prospects.
Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
A few universities and colleges offer specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in internal auditing. In some cases, those with associate’s degrees, as well as bookkeepers and accounting clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, get junior accounting positions and advance to accountant positions by showing their accounting skills on the job.
Many colleges help students gain practical experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.
CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be licensed, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.
A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.
All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that candidates pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part.
Almost all states require CPAs to take continuing education to keep their license.
Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:
The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct. The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The IIA also offers the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) to those who pass the exams and meet educational and experience requirements.
ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems. Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.
For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. The ABV requires passing a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education. The CITP requires 1,000 hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.
Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.
Entry-level public accountants can advance to senior positions with more responsibility. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.
Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions. As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents.
Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants. However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting.
Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds.
Communication skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others. They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports.
Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation.
Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.
Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors, who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients.
What people in similar profession do
|Job Title||What they do||How to become one|
|Operations Management and Supervision||Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.||Typically, a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, plus related work experience, is required. Many computer and information systems managers also have a graduate degree. Education Computer and information systems managers normally must have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science–related field. These degrees include courses in computer programming, software development, and mathematics.|
|Non-Profit, Public, Organizational Management||Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public.||Social and community service managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and work experience. However, some positions also require a master’s degree. Education Most social and community service manager jobs require a bachelor’s degree in social work, public or business administration, public health, or a related field. However, some positions also require a master’s degree. Work Experience Workers usually need experience in order to become a social and community service manager, and it is essential for those with a bachelor’s degree.|
|Accounting , Accountancy||Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.||Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification, including the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, can improve job prospects. Education Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.|
|Human Resources Management||Compensation and benefits managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to compensate employees.||Compensation and benefits managers need a combination of education and related work experience. Education Compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree for most positions. Managers usually need a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, business management, finance, or a related field. Work Experience in a Related Occupation Work experience is essential for compensation and benefits managers. Managers often specialize in either compensation or benefits, depending on the type of experience they gain in previous jobs.|
|Finance||Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.||Although education and training requirements vary widely by position and industry, most top executives have at least a bachelor’s degree and a considerable amount of work experience. Education Many top executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or in an area related to their field of work. Top executives in the public sector often have a degree in business administration, public administration, law, or the liberal arts. Top executives of large corporations often have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). College presidents and school superintendents are typically required to have a master’s degree, although a doctorate is often preferred. Although many mayors, governors, or other public sector executives have at least a bachelor’s degree, these positions typically do not have any specific education requirements. Work Experience in a Related Occupation Many top executives advance within their own firm, moving up from lower level management occupations or supervisory positions.|
|Finance and Financial Management Services||Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.||Financial managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst. Education A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master’s degree, preferably in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software. Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations Although professional certification is not required, some financial managers still get it to demonstrate a level of competence.|
|Management Information Systems||Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.||Typically, a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, plus related work experience, is required. Many computer and information systems managers also have a graduate degree. Education Computer and information systems managers normally must have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or information science–related field. These degrees include courses in computer programming, software development, and mathematics.|
|Marketing Management||Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.||A bachelor’s degree is required for most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions. These managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales. Education A bachelor’s degree is required for most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions. For advertising management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism.|
|Taxation||Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.||Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification, including the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, can improve job prospects. Education Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.|
Job Outlook for other majors in Business Administration and Management -MBA
|Job Title||Number of jobs||Median Salary||Job outlook|
|Operations Management and Supervision||367600||$142530||Faster than average|
|Non-Profit, Public, Organizational Management||147300||$65320||Much faster than average|
|Human Resources Management||15800||$121010||As fast as average|
|Finance||2572000||$104980||As fast as average|
|Finance and Financial Management Services||580400||$127990||Much faster than average|
|Management Information Systems||367600||$142530||Faster than average|
|Marketing Management||249600||$132620||Faster than average|
|Taxation||1397700||$70500||Faster than average|