Career as an Accountant
By Diane Turner
Accountancy is not a new or rare profession. The world is thriving with accountants and this is one of the most sought after professions not just in the US but the world at large. So who is an accountant, what does an accountant do and how much can one earn from this profession? Well, those are questions we are going to be addressing today.
An account is basically an individual whose main task is to perform accounting procedures. The professional handles the financial aspect of the organization and this includes keeping records, analyzing the financial condition of the organization, interpreting financial data, classifying accounts and many more tasks. A career as an accountant can be highly demanding and it goes without saying that as anaccountant you need to have sharp analytical skills and obviously flair with numbers since you are constantly calculating. One of the best aspects about a career in accounting is the fact that the job outlook has always been bright and will always continue to be bright because this is one of the most sought after services. Every business requires accounting services and that is regardless of whether it is a small business or Fortune 500 company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career is expected to grow by 15.7% in a span of only a decade from the year 2010 to 2020. This growth rate is much higher than what other professions experience and there will be 190,700 new jobs in the sector. A qualification in accountancy is therefore not one that will disappoint you.
What is most confusing to many people is that there are many job titles that come with the term accountant. It is actually not rare to find an accountant who holds two certifications. Before you can jump start your accounting career, you need to establish what kind of accountant you wish to become and decideon the type of certification to acquire. There are various certifications and one of the most popular is CPA certification. Though it is not a must that you get certified public accountant certification, it does elevate your chances of landing a great job. The good thing about being a CPA is that you can work in any finance sector and this includes: financial accounting, financial analysis, income tax, corporate governance, tax preparation and venture capital just to mention a few.
If you are looking to hold the CPA title, you need to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and excel in it. Besides being a CPA, you could also become a Certified Management Accountant(CMA). CMA certification allows you to work in areas such as information systems, financial analysis, internal auditing and cost management amongst others. CFM or Certified Financial Manager is yet another certification that you could look into. This certification is mostly acquired by accountants who work as treasurers, financial educators, risk analysts, investment planning and the stock market as well. CFM opportunities are mostly in the corporate world. CIA certification or Certified Internal Auditor certification is for auditing accountants. Auditors basically ensure that records are factual and fraud free. Other certifications you can acquire as an accountant include: Certified Financial Planner (CFP). With CFP certification you can provide advice on tax laws, investments and financial planning. CGFM or Certified Government Financial Manager is for accountants who work in local, state and federal governments. CGFMs are mainly tasked with the duty of preparing budgets, tax statements, financial statements andproviding financial advice. Though this kind of certification is not easy to acquire, it does place you as a unique accountant who understands government financial needs.
As a Certified Fraud Examiner, you basically investigate fraud by auditing the accounts of the suspect company or organization, analyzing reports. Fraud accountant are mostly self-employed and work with corporations and businesses to ensure that no laws are broken. Last but not least you can work as an enrolled agent. For those of you who are new to this term, enrolled agents usually represent clients in taxation matters and their licensing comes from the federal government. As an enrolled agent, you are the only person who is authorized to represent businesses or any other client that is being audited by the IRS. Enrolled agents can also provide services such as tax preparation.
If you are just fresh from high school and are thinking of one day holding any one of the above certifications, you could consider getting an accounting clerk or bookkeeper position with an associate’s degree. However mid-level accounting positions require nothing less than a bachelor’s degree in the field of accounting or finance. Employers in this field are always on the lookout for advanced level education and a masters in accounting or business administration with accounting as area of specialization could get you a better paying job.
So why is a career in accounting a great opportunity? To begin with, this is one of those professions that will always be marketable. Accounting data enables an organization to understand how well the organization is doing and this data is not only made available to the management team but to the shareholders, employees and the general public as well. In this day and age, accountants are not short of areas of employment and they could work for accounting firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, corporate organizations or even begin their very own accounting firms.
As of 2010, the number of accountants employed in the US stood at 1,216,900 which just goes to show that this profession is definitely a popular choice for many. Accountants are well compensated and the average salary for an accountant is 62,850.
Accountant Average Salary
Accountants earn a good pay. As of 2011, their average annual salary stood at $62,850 which is an increase from what had been recorded a year earlier in 2010 which was $61,690. The top paid accountants earn an approximated figure of $109,870 and this figure could be more or less. On the other side, the lowest paid in the profession earn about $39,640.
There are many things that will affect theaccountant salary and this includes location, experience, area of employment and most importantly the title one holds.
Accountant Salary Factors and Influences
An accountant’s salary is influenced by different features and these are some of them.
Experience plays a crucial role in the salary you earn as an accountant. The average starting salary for accountants who hold a bachelor’s degree is $49,786. As you can see this is not a bad starting salary and is in fact what most professionals get as their average salary. Though it is way below the average accountant salary, it still provides a great starting point and you can expect more as you gain experience and certification or advanced education. If for example you start out with a $50,000 annual salary, your pay is expected to increase to about $52,000 in a year. Accountants with three years experience earn much better at $65,000 while those in managerial and supervisory positions earn from $80,000 to more than $100,000.
The employment sector also contributes greatly to the salary of an accountant. Large accounting firms provide entry-level salaries in the range of $50,000 to $55,000 while midsized firms will pay anywhere from $47,000 to $51,000. The best employment industry for accountants is the technical and financial sector. Accountants working in investment funds earned an average $76,310 while those who worked in technical consulting took home an average pay of $74,860 which is well above their national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 24% of accountants are employed to provide accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation services and this 24% earn an average salary of $75,060.Finance and insurance employs 8% of this occupation while state and local government employs 7%. Local government pays its accountants $60,380 while state government accountants earn an average $56,020. 6% of accountants work in manufacturing with another 6% managing organizations and companies earning an average $70,150 salary.
Location also matters and you will find that areas such as New York City, San Francisco and Newark are some of the top paying metropolitan areas paying their accountants well over $80,000.
Accountant Salary Compared To Related Fields
Accounts hold 3rd place in the list of the best business careers. They are competitively paid and here is a look at how their salaries compare to others in related fields.
Average Salary for a Marketing Manager: $116,110
Average Salary for a Financial Manager: $107,160
Average Salary for a Financial Analyst: $75,650
Average Salary for a Financial Advisor: $66,580
Average Salary for a HR Specialist: $54,310
Accountant Salary by State
Below we highlight how much you can earn as an accountant in the following states.
Average Accountant Salary in District of Columbia: $86,030
Accountant Salary in New York: $85,070
Average Accountant Salary in Ney Jersey: $81,250
Average Accountant Salary in Massachusetts: $76,430
Average Accountant Salary in Maryland: $75,630
Average Accountant Salary in California: $74,910
Average Accountant Salary in Illinois: $71,330
Average Accountant Salary in Alaska: $70,700
Average Accountant Salary in Texas: $70,120
Average Accountant Salary in Florida: $65,440
Average Accountant Salary in Hawaii: $61,750
Accountant Types of Salaries
There are various types of accountants and their certifications largely affect how much they take home. Today we highlight the different types of accountants and their salaries.
Forensic Accountant Average Salary: $74,000
Forensic accountants are investigators who evaluate the finances of an organization and audit reports as well. They are employed to identify fraud.
Bookkeeping Accountant Average Salary: $34,700
Bookkeepers are mainly tasked with keeping accounting records, reconciling accounts, payroll services and more. Bookkeepers are one of the lowest paid accountants.
Certified Management Accountant Average Salary: $106,713
Certified management accountants advice organizations on financial matters, investmentpossibilities and help in budgeting tasks as well. These are one of the most highly paid accountants.
Chartered Accountant Average Salary: $115,000
Chartered accountants work in different financial sectors and are most commonly employed in private accounting firms and local government agencies.
Certified Public Accountant Average Salary: $73,800
Certified public accountants command a higher pay than the national average salary for an accountant. This is largely due to their CPA certification which is highly recognized.
Certified Internal Auditor Average Salary: $77,000
CIAs as they popularly known are in high demand at corporate level and they are auditors who evaluate financial records. These types of accountants can also work as independent accountants who audit the accounts of various firms in their location.
History of Accounting
Accounting practices have been with us since time in memorial and bookkeeping first debut in 1494 when Luca Pacioli originallydescribed double entry system of bookkeeping. Though business records had been kept long before that, he was the first to properly highlight the system we now use in ledgers which is the debit and credit column system. 1896 saw the first ever certified public accountants licensed and the AICPA or American Instituteof Certified Accountants was founded in 1973. Since then, the accounting profession has been one of the most highly regarded professions and is one that enjoys enrollment in large numbers at universities every year. Accounting is now more than a bookkeeping professionand has advanced to accommodate various consulting and analysis roles as well.
Accountant Salary Outlook – Conclusion
The world of accountancy has great career prospects. It is expected to grow over the next few years by about 16% and you can brace yourself for over 190,000 new jobs in this sector. One of the good things about this profession is that there is no sector that you cannot gain employment. Accountants work in industries, small business, large corporate organizations, technology and IT firms just to mention a few. The future looks bright and the annual average pay can only go higher and higher to accommodate the new skills accountants acquire. Accountants are not just about reconciling bank accountants and keeping monetary records, nowadays there are various sectors you can look into and could begin your consultancy firm, provide private bookkeeping services amongst other self employed ideas. There are currently more than 1.2 million accountants in the US and theaverage salary of an accountant is currently $62,850.