Most accountants and auditors work in offices, but some work from home. Although they complete much of their work alone, they sometimes work in teams with other accountants and auditors. Longer periods of work are typical at certain times of the year, such as at the end of the budget year or during tax season. Many colleges help students gain practical experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms.
Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.
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Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.
Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that candidates pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part. Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct.
The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management. The Institute of Internal Auditors IIA offers the Certified Internal Auditor CIA to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam.
Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security. The ABV requires passing a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education.
The CITP requires 1, hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.
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Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance. Entry-level public accountants can advance to senior positions with more responsibility. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms. Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions.
As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents. Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants.
However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting. Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds. Communication skills.
Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others.
They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports. Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation. Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.
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Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors, who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients. Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U. Source: U.
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The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. In May , the median annual wages for accountants and auditors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:. Longer hours are typical at certain times of the year, such as at the end of the budget year or during tax season. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program. Globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to continue to lead to strong demand for accountants and auditors.
As the economy grows, these workers will continue to be needed to prepare and examine financial records. In addition, as more companies go public, there will be greater need for public accountants to handle the legally required financial documentation. The continued globalization of business may lead to increased demand for accounting expertise and services related to international trade and international mergers and acquisitions. Technological change is expected to affect the role of accountants over the next 10 years.
As platforms such as cloud computing become more widespread, some routine accounting tasks may become automated. Although this will allow accountants to become more efficient, this change is not expected to reduce the overall demand for accountants. Instead, with the automation of routine tasks, such as data entry, the advisory and analytical duties of accountants will become more prominent. Demand for accountants may lead to good prospects for entry-level positions.
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