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DOES AN ACCOUNTANT DO?
and Auditors prepare, analyze and verify financial reports crucial to all business
and government organizations for sound financial planning. Certified Public Accountants
(CPAs) must pass a series of exams and be licensed by the State Board of Accountancy
to earn the title "CPA". The three major accounting specialties are:
work for private companies. They:
- help with budget planning
- advise top management
single Management Accountant may perform all accounting functions in a
company, or there may be several specialists within the firm. Cost Accountants,
for example, study the costs of production, administration and distribution, compare
actual costs to expected costs, and make recommendations for cost-control measures.
have their own businesses or work for private accounting firms. They:
- examine financial statements, records and systems
- attest that accounting records
conform to established standards
present the company's financial condition
Accountants specialize in taxation. Tax Accountants:
individual and corporate tax returns
long-range tax and estate plans
clients on the tax ramifications of proposed activities
Accountants specialize in management consulting. They help clients solve complex
business problems ranging from securing funds for expansion programs to the design
and installation of computer-based information systems.
work for local, state, or federal government agencies. Many work for the federal
government as Internal Revenue Service agents investigating charges of criminal
and civil violations of federal tax laws. Some work as tax auditors or bank examiners.
Others are involved in financial management and budget administration at the various
are in demand in private companies. They frequently use internal computer systems
to produce up-to-the-minute information that allows management to base decisions
on actual, rather than historical, data. To protect a company against fraud and
- examine and evaluate
their firm’s financial and information systems
at management procedures
- review company
operations, evaluating their efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with corporate
policies and procedures
SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT?
have and use the following skills and abilities:
reasoning --The ability to understand and organize a problem and then to select
a mathematical method or formula to solve the problem
and accurate basic math ability -- The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or
divide quickly and correctly
- Problem Identification
-- Identifying the nature of problems
comprehension -- The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented
- Knowledge of personal computers
and accounting software
professionals should be able to work independently, perform well under pressure,
comprehend information quickly and possess good analytical and communication skills.
They must be able to explain and interpret data for clients. Employers often require
that applicants be "bondable". This means the worker can have no previous criminal,
felony, or misdemeanor convictions such as driving under the influence, bad credit,
vandalism, or unpaid child support.
THE WORK ENVIRONMENT?
and Auditors work in a normal office setting, but often work away from their desk
in a client’s office to perform audits. Some jobs, such as those performed by
government auditors, require considerable travel. The work is often challenging
and may be stressful. Accountants often work long hours under pressure during
the first quarter of the calendar year, which is both tax and audit season.
THE JOB OUTLOOK?
The following information
is from the California Projections and Planning Information published by
the Labor Market Information Division:
number of workers in 1996:
Estimated number of workers in 2006:
Estimated openings due to separations by 2006:
figures do not include self-employment.)
to the California Board of Accountancy, there were approximately 60,000 licensed
CPAs in May of 1999, with an estimated 40,000 of those listed as "active" practitioners.
For the Job Outlook in your local area,
growing number of Accountants and Auditors have extensive computer skills and
specialize in correcting problems with existing software programs. Some Accountants
develop their own software to meet unique data needs. There is evidence that some
Accountants and accounting students are leaving the field for better paying jobs
in computer programming.
DOES THE JOB PAY?
1997 State Occupational Employment Statistics and Wage Estimates reported Accountants
in California earn an average of $20.91 per hour. However, earnings are considerably
higher and often exceed $100,000 annually for CPAs who work in large well-known
firms, or who are partners in successful companies.
wage information in your local area, click here.
hours vary. Most Accountants work 40 hours per week, but overtime is required
during tax season, which lasts approximately from January through mid-April.
normally include paid vacations, sick leave, group health insurance, and retirement
plans. Some companies offer profit-sharing plans. CPA firms often pay for CPA
exams, continuing education courses, and professional society membership dues.
DO I PREPARE FOR THE JOB?
Auditors almost always need a bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting. For
tax management accounting, an MA degree is desirable. A college grade point average
of 3.0 or higher is generally expected for job entry into accounting firms.
Accountant (PA) licenses are no longer issued to new Accountants, and are only
renewed to current licensees.
and all other states use the same Uniform CPA examination prepared by the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The examination is given twice a year
in California at locations in Pleasanton, Sacramento, San Diego and Pomona. Although
candidates are not required to pass all the parts at once, they must do so within
three years of passing two or more parts of the first exam. A carefully planned,
intensive review contributes to success on the exam.
are several ways to qualify to take the CPA examination in California:
- Baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college
or university accredited by a U.S. regional or national accreditation body, which
includes a core course requirement of 45 semester units of accounting and business
subjects, with a minimum of 10 units in accounting subjects;
semester units of course work (no degree) from a college or university accredited
by a U.S. regional or national accreditation body, which includes a core course
requirement of 45 semester units of business and accounting subjects, including
a minimum of 10 semester units in accounting;
equivalent of Alternative (1) or (2) at a foreign college or university. Foreign
degrees must be evaluated by a Board approved Academic Credential Service, and
evaluations must be submitted to the Board of Accountancy either prior to applying
for the CPA exam or with the exam application;
grade in Board specified preliminary examinations provided by the College Level
Examination Program (CLEP) and 10 semester units of accounting from an accredited
college or university, OR be a member of a Board recognized foreign accounting
Some colleges offer internships
and/or cooperative education work-study programs for a limited number of accounting
students in their junior year or above. Interns work in an accounting office for
about three months; co-ops alternate several periods of work and study. Such programs
offer valuable practical experience and often lead to permanent jobs.
continuing education units are required every two years in order to retain one’s
CPA license. Of these, 24 units must pertain to auditing and accounting topics.
DO I FIND THE JOB?
application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods.
Private firms are listed in the Yellow Pages under Accountants. Large accounting
firms do recruit students from some California colleges.
more information, see your local employment and training provider
CAN THIS JOB LEAD?
Accountants may earn the Certificate in Management Accounting (CMA) from the Institute
of Management Accounting, or the Certificate in Internal Auditing (CIA) from the
Institute of Internal Auditing. Both require lengthy written exams and experience.
Although neither of these certificates is required by law, they are generally
considered symbols of achievement and can aid in career advancement.
CPAs may advance to manager and eventually to partner. Some leave to open their
own practices. Management Accountants may become senior-level supervisors or department
managers. A few become Controllers, Treasurers, or Chief Financial Officers.