Businesses require good, accurate financial information upon which to base and make their decisions. Accountants may analyze financial transactions and trends, make financial forecasts, create reports, verify financial documents, and prepare balance sheets and income statements. They may also perform internal audits or prepare tax returns.
In fact, accountants often orient their careers into one of four areas: public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, and internal auditing. Public accountants generally work independently for a variety of individual or business clients. They may offer consulting, tax, accounting, or other related services. Management accountants work for companies, generally large companies. They may draft budgets, manage costs and assets, and help management with the financial aspect of key business decisions. Government accountants ensure that government reporting and tax requirements are met. Lastly, internal auditors examine financial records for fraud and waste, and review compliance with various regulations.
Whichever area an accountant may specialize in, an accountant should have good analytical skills, be able to effectively advise different types of people with potentially complicated financial matters, be familiar with the latest accounting software, and keep current with regulatory requirements and changes.
Unsurprisingly, the field of accounting makes use of many specialized terms. Studying at an accounting college or an accounting school can help you master these accounting terms, and gain the skills needed for an accounting position.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a favorable job growth in the field of accounting (for accountants and auditors: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos001.htm#outlook, and for accounting clerks and bookkeeping http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos144.htm#outlook), many considering a career in accounting want specifics. Particularly, and understandably, they want to know what job they can expect and how much they can expect to earn.
Following is a rundown of jobs and earnings that can be expected in accounting, from entry level to job prospects for more experienced accounting professionals.
For those seeking to enter the accounting field without a degree or certification, and without experience, your job prospects have opportunity and still offer a chance to start a successful accounting career.
These jobs fall under the accounting clerk job classification, and their average salary is $32,510 and depends on experience, education, and location. Job titles in this category include:
- Accounts payable clerk
- Payroll clerk
For those who gain experience in this area, they can move up to supervisory positions and oversee departments. Those jobs include:
- Accounts payable manager with an average salary of $60,000
- Payroll manager with an average salary of $63,000
- General accounting supervisor with an average salary of $63,000
Entry-level bookkeeping positions run a little higher than the accounting clerk positions, as they have more varied duties with higher responsibilities.
Mid-Level Accounting Positions
For those who have a certification, a college degree or accounting experience, you can expect to have a plethora of job choices within the accounting industry. They tend to be broken down by specialty field within the industry.
Mid-level positions and their average salaries include:
- International tax accountants – $71,000
- Tax accountant – $76,000
- Public tax accountant – $55,000
Mid-level positions with average salaries include:
- Financial or budget analyst – $76,000
- Internal auditor – $72,000
- Accounting manager – $74,000
- IRS agent – $74,000
- IRS audit specialist – $88,000
- Tax fraud investigator – $80,000
For those accountants holding certifications, such as a CPA, advanced degrees, or extensive experience, the earning potential offers a world of possibilities. Some of the more popular senior-level accounting positions include:
- Chief financial officers who earn an average salary of $128,000
- Corporate controllers earn an average salary of $110,000
- Chief compliance officer, a position which pays an average of $113,000
Of course, the salaries for these senior-level accounting positions do not take into account the associated perks and performance bonuses that come with these positions, such as stock options.
For those looking for independence and a company of their own, there are many self-employment opportunities in accounting. Even entry-level accountants can contract out their services. While at first self-employed accountants may not make the money of their counterparts, they have more control over their career and their business opportunities.
For accountants pursuing self-employment, the opportunities available include:
- Opening a tax services company
- Offering business consulting services
- Offering accounting technology services
As you can see, there are an incredible variety of jobs within the field of accounting. While you don't always know where your career will take you, you can take the step of gaining the right educational and experience requirements to point you in the right direction.
(Note: Salary information is from Indeed.com)