Accountants examine financial documents to ensure that they are accurate and in compliance with the law. In addition, they also prepare tax returns and other financial records. It is their job to help make sure that organizations are running efficiently. Most of their work is done in an office environment; however, some are able to do their work from home. If they want, accountants can specialize further in the field. For instance, they can focus their time in assurance services, risk management or healthcare. Although most accountants work for businesses, some also work for the government. Accountants can even choose the academic route by teaching at a college or university. An accountant can have different job titles. For example, they are also known as public accounts, auditors and tax accountants.

Degrees and Experience Needed

In order to get a job as an accountant, candidates should at least have a bachelor’s degree in accounting. However, certain employers will only hire applicants who have a master’s degree. Some colleges allow students to specialize. These schools commonly offer programs such as internal auditing. Besides earning a degree, applicants must pass an exam to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This exam has questions about financial statements, capital structure, risk management and working-capital policies. The rules to register for the CPA exam vary by state. In some states, applicants need to have work experience before they can take the test. The ideal candidates have analytical skills and are detail oriented. Since the job involves analyzing, comparing and interpreting figures, candidates should also excel in math.

Annual Pay

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of an accountant is $61,690. The lowest 10 percent of workers earn approximately $38,940 each year. As for the highest paid accountants, they earn more than $106,880 on an annual basis. An accountant’s salary is based on a number of factors. For instance, accountants who have a master’s degree tend to make more than those who only have a bachelor’s degree. Experience is also taken into consideration. Those who have been in the field for a while make more than those who are just starting out. A person’s geographic location also plays a role in his or her salary. Accountants usually earn more money when they work in a city instead of a small town.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for accountants is very good. It is projected that job openings will grow 15.7 percent by 2020. Therefore, an additional 190,700 accounting positions will need to be filled. Compared to other jobs, this growth rate is faster than average. Applicants who have a master’s degree will have the best job prospects. In addition, those who have maintained their CPA status will also have a promising job outlook. Since laws are constantly changing, the need for accountants is increasing. Not only that, but accountants will always be needed to help businesses and other organizations. Due to the positive job outlook, accounting is a great field to go into.