Accounting is a broad field that can lead you to a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a tax or staff accountant, a financial analyst, a compliance professional, a financial planner or a loan officer. Each path has it’s own unique responsibilities, but they are built upon the same foundation: numbers. If you are a math geek with a passion for economics, a career in accounting may be the right fit for you.
Bookkeepers or accounting clerks that hold an associate’s degree may be able to advance into junior accounting positions without additional education, but most entry-level positions in accounting require a bachelor’s degree and many employers prefer a master’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree in accounting covers microeconomics, macroeconomics, personal finance concepts and fundamentals of marketing. Classes also cover ethics and the relevant laws that accountants need to be aware of.
Accountants with a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The exam is broken up into four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulations. You must pass each section of the exam in order to become a certified CPA, allowing you serve the public and provide assurance services.
The responsibilities of someone in accounting depend largely on the specific career path they choose. However, someone in this field typically examines financial statements, computes taxes owed and makes sure they are paid properly, inspects accounting systems, maintains financial records and suggests ways to cut costs and improve profits.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2014 to 2024. The median pay for accountants in 2015 was $67,190 or $32.30 per hour.
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