accountant wearing a blue shirt and black rimmed glasses working on his computer

Accountant

What Is an Accountant?

Accountants are professionals who specialize in preparing and/or examining financial records for business and individuals. They may also be known in various workplaces as financial accountants, staff accountants, financial analysts, financial managers, revenue analysts, budget analysts, and business managers, among other job titles.

Job Responsibilities

Accountants are responsible for a variety of finance-related functions for their employers and/or clients. Among the most common duties they perform in their day-to-day work are:

  • Examining financial documents and records for accuracy and compliance with all relevant regulations and laws.
  • Payroll management
  • Managing tax compliance, including figuring the amount of taxes to be paid, preparing tax returns and seeing that taxes are paid correctly and in a timely fashion.
  • Assessing account books and accounting systems to ensure efficient, accurate and accepted accounting methods have been used.
  • Assessing financial operations of businesses and recommend any necessary changes to ensure best practices.
  • Analyzing budgets and make suggestions for cutting costs, enhancing revenues and/or improving profits.
  • Keeping financial records up to date and organized.
  • Working with financial planners to manage assets, investments and financial performance evaluations for organizations/clients.
  • Reporting results of completed assessments in written reports and/or consultations with employers/clients.

Common Employment Settings for Accountants

Most accountants work in office environments. A few work from their homes, and some travel, seeing clients in their homes or places of business. Most frequently, accountants work alone, but in some workplace settings, they may work as part of a team of accountants and auditors. Top employers for accountants, according to BLS, are accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation and payroll services. These types of companies employed about 25 percent of accountants in 2016. About 8 percent held jobs with local, state or federal governments, and another 8 percent were employed by finance and insurance firms. Approximately 7 percent worked in management of companies and enterprises, and another 7 percent were self-employed.

Accountant: Career Outlook

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that job growth rates for accountants and auditors will be about 4 percent between 2022 and 2032. This is faster than the average rate for all occupations. The agency attributes this favorable career outlook to a number of factors that are closely tied to the health of the overall economy.

Expected growth of the economy, according to BLS, may increase the need for basic accounting services. An expected increase in companies going public, is likely to lead to increased demand for public accountants to handle financial assessments and documentation required for that process. A continued trend towards the globalization of business may also lead to increased demand for well-trained accountants. Their expertise and services will be needed to address many financial issues associated with international trade, as well as international mergers and acquisitions.

This increasing level of demand is expected to lead to good job prospects in entry-level positions. Competition is expected to be stronger for jobs in large, prestigious accounting firms and businesses. Accountants who have greater education levels and have earned professional certifications/recognition can expect to have better prospects in pursuing those more competitive positions.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Becoming an accountant means earning a degree in accounting. An accounting BBA degree can prepare you for some entry-level positions in the field, including jobs in accounting firms or government, as well as in the retail, manufacturing and service industries. An accounting bachelor’s degree prepares you to begin a career in a variety of settings, pursuing jobs related to accounting and finance in business, government, industry and/or non-profit organizations, among many other opportunities.

Bryant & Stratton College students who wish to pursue an accounting career can enter the field by earning an Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Students who wish to take this path after completing an Associate degree in Accounting first, can apply the courses and credits from that program towards earning a bachelor’s degree via our bachelor’s in Business Administration degree program in Accounting. This can provide them with the educational foundation and credentials they need to begin climbing the career ladder.

Additional Training/Requirements

Accountants who work in jobs that require them to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must, according to law, be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Many other accountants become CPAs to increase their value to employers.

CPAs are accountants who are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy, and they must pass a national exam and meet other state licensing requirements to earn that credential. In most states, CPAs must then take continuing education courses in order to keep their licenses.

Many other certifications are available for accountants as a means of increasing their skills and their job prospects. Most are offered by professional organizations. Applicants for these credentials generally must meet educational and work experience standards set by these organizations, then pass an exam administered by them to become certified.  For more details on the accounting field, please visit the Business degrees section on the Bryant & Stratton College blog. By exploring the blog and our website, you will find the information you need to gain further career insights related to this field or many others that may spark your interest.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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