Figuring Out an Accounting Career

A career in accounting means managing and reporting the finances of a business. Accountants help ensure that public and private financial records are maintained properly and that company taxes are paid correctly and promptly. Budgeting, cost management, and asset management are other accounting duties. The bigger the company, the more specialized a role you’re likely to hold, while in smaller companies, you generally have the opportunity to broaden your accounting experience.

What You Can Count On: Job Security

For the 2007 fiscal year, Microsoft reported an annual revenue of $51.2 billion. Behind any company’s revenue numbers–big or small–are accountants and financial managers who balance the books. In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act added further scrutiny to corporate procedures. Between government regulations and the thousands of companies that need to manage finances, the immediate benefit of a career in accounting is a reasonable amount of job security. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong growth for accountants and auditors through 2016.

What You Can Take to the Bank: Strong Earnings

Another benefit for an accountant is that the median annual salary for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services is $57,020. Going further into the financial services industry, you could become a financial manager for a major corporation and earn in the neighborhood of $105,410 a year according to the BLS. You can also work your way up the corporate ladder to financial director, corporate controller, or even chief financial officer (CFO).

What Education You Need: Accounting Degree and Certification

A college degree and certification are almost essential for advancement and a long term career in accounting. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a finance related topic is a solid start, and earning a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential furthers your employability prospects. You can even take it a step-further by earning a specialized certification such as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), or other credential. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants reports on a survey finding that candidates with a professional certification can earn 10% more than other accountants. A graduate degree can also help you stand out from the crowd.

If keeping track of the nickels and dimes is your passion, then accounting may be what you can count on for a career.

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