Posted: October 17th, 2013
My Future Career-Accountant
Accountancy refers to the process of documentation, categorizing and summarizing in a significant manner the financial transactions, occurrences and events and thereafter, interpreting the results to come up with meaningful deductions. Accounting is fundamental to business in that it is the means for relaying financial data about a business entity to related groups of people. There are various types of accounting depending on the environment that it is applied. Management accounting concentrates on relaying information to people inside the business and provides information to auditors, employees and managers. Management accounting focuses primarily on giving an informed platform for making management decisions.
Accountants help to ascertain that firms are managed more professionally, its public records maintained precisely, and taxes paid on time. They execute these essential services by ensuring that they have a vast array of products that suit the specifications of their clientele. These services include accounting and auditing packages for both the private and public sectors irrespective of the size of the job at hand. In each of these sectors, accountants are not exempt from fundamental undertakings of their profession such as preparing, examining and confirmation of financial articles with the aim of providing more details to their owners, be it individuals in the private sector, or organizations such as companies and governments.
For instance, public accountants focus on tax issues such as giving recommendations to companies on the tax advantages of certain business choices and developing individual income tax proceeds. Other accountants are advisors who provide information in fields that include employee health care benefits. Some concentrate on forensic accounting investigating bankruptcies and other intricate financial deals (Latoya & Murray 386).
Accountants practice accountancy that can be defined as the provision of financial information that assists managers, tax companies and investors to make wise decisions about an organization or an individual. Most accountants are employed in the public domain and the commerce sector. In different countries across the world, there are different benchmarks for qualifying an individual as a certified professional accountant. The most common standards for accountants include the Commonwealth standards that recognize the Chartered Accountant (CA), International Accountant (AAIA) and Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA). Other common qualifications include the Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Having a license and certification by the Board of Accountancy is an added advantage since certified accountants are seen as more skillful (Bougen 27).
Accountants are answerable for maintaining a clear record of the outflow and proceeds that a company has at any time. Company managers and directors depend on the financial reports produced by accountants to judge the level of performance of their company. The same financial reports are also analyzed by the government to determine the amount of tax that a company should pay. Accountants provide a guarantee that the organization that they work for keeps a clear compliance with the domestic, state and federal requirements by revising new legislation and translating it into company policy. While this is a summary of the job description, the sub divisions within accounting result in tasks that are more specific.
Accountants are in charge of the research, examination, and scrutiny of financial statements, accounting records and other financial information to review accurateness, comprehensiveness, and the degree of complying with coverage and technical standards. Accountants are in charge of taxation matters within the organization and therefore, they calculate taxes owed and prepare tax proceeds, ascertaining that conformity with payment, reporting requirements is maintained. Accountants are professionals who learnt the different aspects of bookkeeping. They also offer analysis on business operations, developments, expenditure, revenues and responsibilities to predict future incomes and costs (Porter 38).
Accountants within the work hierarchy develop, sustain, and evaluate budgets. They also prepare regular reports that contrast planned costs to actual costs. Most education systems offer IT related courses apart from the mainstream accounting courses that give the accountants computer skills. As a result, accountants in most contemporary systems also develop, apply and adjust accounting and recordkeeping systems with the use of sophisticated computer expertise. In relation to public functions, accountants also work as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents by providing regular updates on the status of the company.
Accountants also act as advisors to individuals and companies. They offer advice on economic issues such as employee benefits, data processing systems and compensation. They also deal with bankruptcies and other multifarious financial businesses. In such situations, accountants serve to provide recommendations to parties that may require making decisions concerning investments and businesses. On a related function, accountants also double up as lecturers in most institutions such as universities and colleges where they teach economics, accounting and finance.
Accounting also requires incessant group effort with all other individuals who make up the team. Contrary to popular belief, accounting requires team play by members. Working in groups or teams is important for accountants so that the accurate accounting standards are established to assist the business grow. Public service accountants also work in the private sector as independent accountants or collaborate with other accountants to form a bigger accounting firm. Specialized accountants perform unique functions for instance; forensic accountants assist in the investigation of white-collar crimes such as fraud, embezzlement or bankruptcy.
Accounting is a profession that entails earlier preparation at the high school level. All people who have this career in mind should be adept in mathematics, as well as the capability to investigate, contrast, and deduce figures swiftly. They must also be able to communicate their findings to clients and managers verbally and in reports. Auditors and accountants should also have people skills. The wave of technological advancements demands that accountants should be knowledgeable in essential accounting and computer software systems. These requirements are secondary and are only complimented by the primary foundation gained at the high school level.
The path to be taken for one to be an accountant will be determined by the kind of accountant one wants to become. Certified public accountants have a wider scope as compared to other accountants who might be restricted by law. At the high school level, students need to lay the foundation to become accountants by taking their math course seriously. Math classes will form the best foundation for a better accounting at the later stages and therefore students should strive to understand algebra, trigonometry and differentiation among other topics in mathematics (Porter 128).
Challenging oneself by taking other difficult classes such as chemistry and advanced English, will help in preparing the brain to handle complex accounting problems that require critical thinking. Students interested in accounting should also focus on economic studies and accounting when choosing their electives. Some schools offer internship programs within the community. Students should take advantage of such opportunities to work for accounting firms and get a first hand experience of how the work description feels. A strong foundation of economics and mathematics will ease the burden at the college level of accounting.
Apart from engaging in academic subjects that set the base for accounting, co-curricular activities also help a prospecting accountant become more competent as they grow up. Taking an introductory accounting class if one is provided by the school prepares high school goers for the college experience. The students can also subscribe to financial journals, magazines and other publications at the library that show the actual happenings in the world of economics and accounting. Participating in seminars, forums and activities such as vying for the office of treasurer all serve to increase the skill and experience of high school students.
Students in high school can also become certified accountants without necessarily going through college or university. There are options for online courses and distant learning that provide similar standardized accounting courses for students finishing high school. These self-study resources cover simple topics such as audit standards, internal controls, accounting standards, accounting standards and taxation. At the high school level, prospecting accountants also need to focus on studying English and other language classes. This is because accountants also require proper communication skills in the event that they need to present their reports to a group of people (Brown 37).
In the case of accounting, there are regular institutions that offer accounting courses as well as other non-related courses, for example, Harvard or Oxford University that offers a degree in accounting, as well as medicine. There are accredited institutions that specialize in accounting and auditing. The latter institutions are efficient in instructing students in the best skills. These institutions are also connected to relevant accounting firms, and this means that opportunities such as internship and absorption into firms become easier. In conclusion, institutions of higher learning have developed into unique places where qualified accounting tutors and relevant accounting syllabi are implemented.
University course information
In most countries, accountants are required to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business and other related fields. Apart from the basic degree, accountants also obtain other certifications that enable them to be unique and highly recommended, for example, to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Accountants who enroll for the beginners course in accounting or auditing usually take four to five years in most public colleges or an equivalent in any other institution of learning. The State of Colombia for instance requires that CPA candidates complete 150 semester hours of coursework (Hopwood 27).
Several other states have also adopted the same policy except for a few states such as Delaware, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire. Schools have also adjusted their curriculums to accommodate the 150-hour requirement. Further studying in accounting at the Masters level takes about two years. Modern universities and colleges also prepare undergraduates to work in emergent professions. This preparation includes conferences and seminars that expose students to actual accounting environments. Most interns from these programs work under supervision with other seasoned accountants and auditors before they can gain more confidence and be responsible (Hopwood 29).
After finishing the studies at the Masters level, accountants need to be licensed and certified before they can practice their skills. In America and Europe, any accountant that makes contracts with the Securities and Exchange Commission must be a legal CPA. All accountants are registered by their relevant State Board of Accountancy where they must pass a national test and meet other necessities by the State. Although university CPA graduates are preferred by states, few states consider and accept accountants who have had a number of years in accounting experience.
Accounting at the degree level requires the completion of a number of minimum specified units depending on the institution. These units are organized into course structures that are categorized into parts. The first part of the accounting course normally contains introductory units such as Introduction to Economics, Introduction to Information Technology, Principles of Commercial Law and Principles of Finance and Banking. At this level, students are taught the foundations of the course which shall be expounded in the later units. This period lasts about a year before different courses are introduced
The second year signals a change from the introductory cases into more complex units. At this stage, the course is studied in depth and the various elements of accounting are elaborated further. Units at the second year stage include technology and Accounting Processes, Corporate Finance, Company Law and Contemporary Financial Accounting. Students are also prepared to major in a specific area and thus the aspect of electives. Electives are a range of subjects that the students have the option of selecting to major. Most universities and colleges have a wide range of accounting units that are offered as electives (Hopper 398).
The third and last years of studying accounting are essential for entrenching the different skills and principles that students choose for them. Having selected an elective, students focus on their line of study, for example, auditing or taxation. At the fourth year, accounting students either enroll for work-based learning as a unit that gives students an opportunity to work in real life environments while still in school. The last year for accounting students also involves internship that is important, as it sets that foundation for future employment and new contacts in the corporate or public world. The progression of units from the first year to the last year are balanced in such a way that following them will enable a student develop the right knowledge and competence to make a first-class accountant. Apart from the typical degree or masters requirement for attaining a qualification into an accounting course, earlier experience in accounting or auditing can boost an applicant’s chances of clinching a job or an internship position.
What other subjects can an accountant minor
Accounting is a multidimensional field that has various options. Accountants who might go into accounting because they understand math and economics may choose to take up different occupations. Surprisingly, people with accounting or auditing skills can work almost elsewhere. Accountants in stressful civic accounting environments can seek different conditions to private accounting that is much slower and more accommodative. Accountants are needed by almost all businesses and therefore, the range of opportunities is wider than for most professions.
Accountants can learn other minor subject or take up courses that can compliment accounting (Gerdes 39).
An alternative to mainstream accounting in private and public offices is lecturing accounting in colleges or universities. Education courses at the diploma level are necessary and achievable for accountants who may need to teach or lecture on accounting in universities. Diplomas in education require about one year to complete and open up teaching opportunities in most institutions. These diplomas entail being taught the teaching skills and principles. Accountants can also study communication skills at the diploma level. Learning communication skills is crucial as it can give the accountant an opportunity to work as a financial analyst in the media.
Most television stations have programs that feature accountants who host debates, discussions and other news. To host such a show, an accountant would require excellent communication skills such as writing and speech. Certain universities offer these minor courses, for example, at Utah Valley University, the introduction to writing and business communications courses are mandatory for all accountants. Minor courses in education and communication serve to increase the likelihood of the accountants being employed as well as their relevance in other fields apart from accounting.
Computer diplomas are also taken by many accountants in their free time such as weekends and holidays. Computer courses are essential in that they teach accountants new information systems and new technologies. The world is embracing technology and accountants are expected to be knowledgeable in digital techniques of accounting such as real-time stock trading. Most professions require the understanding of basic computer functions such as flow charts, spreadsheets, monetary reports, memos and flow charts. Being conversant with computer programs that are unique to organizations is an added advantage since accountants can apply to work in various departments and different organizations with ease.
Accounting has an aspect of morality and judgment. Professional ethics is necessary especially in the public sector where accountants handle public resources. High ethical standards are required in the preparation of financial statements that will be used by potential shareholders and others. The inclusion of accounting ethics as a separate study within accounting serves to reinforce the role of ethics in accounting. Accountants can study company law and ethics studies that will improve their skills in interpreting tax laws for various countries across the continent and even worldwide (Dimnik & Felton 169).
Actuarial science is closely related to accounting in that actuaries deal with the financial effect of risk and insecurity. Accountants can enroll and study actuarial science that will give them the ability to mathematically assess the likelihood of events and measure the conditional results in order to reduce financial losses. Accounting, when complemented with actuarial science, refines the abilities of the accountant to manage risky situations that may arise in the course of bookkeeping. These four areas of study: information technology, ethics, actuarial science and communication skills make a normal accountant acquire special skills that can be applicable in other occupations (Craft 239).
The future of an accountant
Starting salaries for Certified Public Accountants are categorized according to their education level and their positions within an organization. These average CPA salaries are calculated under the assumption that most accountants have a bachelor’s degree in management accounting, government accounting, internal auditing and public accounting. Accountants that enjoy the best job security, are those certified or licensed with the state. CPA’s enjoy more privileges and benefits than other types of accountants. Their salaries are significantly different from those of a senior tax accountant or any professional.
Both the position of a senior tax accountant and a CPA might be high ranking but a tax accountant having over 20 years experience earns between $65,000 – $90,000 per year while a CPA having similar qualifications and experience may earn from $70,000-$120,000 (Craft 269). This difference in the salary brackets occurs because of the increased training by CPA professionals and the certification that makes them more valuable. Various associations compile records about the working conditions are available from organizations such as the National Society of Accountants.
The first parameter that can be used to evaluate the accountants’ salary is the median salary by years experienced in one job within the United States. Within the first year, accountants earn an average of $47, 000 per month. The next four years spent in accounting increase the salary level up to $49, 000. This indicates a slow raise in the salary bracket possibly because the first four years are spent in training and learning on the job on the part of the employees. There is also a high employee turnover rate in these first four years therefore the salary bracket is kept relatively low (Coster 41).
The categories of accountants also receive different salaries. For instance, tax accountants work mostly in public offices finishing and documenting business tax returns. Such accountants with about 3 years experience receive salaries ranging from $45,000 to $62,000 (Coster 43). Senior-level tax accountants earn from $52,000 to $127,250 (Coster 47). Internal auditors are another group of accountants that are responsible for assessing company compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley guidelines and other laws. Starting salaries for internal auditors range from $42,500 to $69,500. After achieving senior management level, internal auditors increase the salaries up to $62,000 to $124,750 (Coster 40).
Promotion in the accounting sector depends on two aspects: the level of education and the amount of experience. The basic level of employment for all accountants starts at the degree level where the basic salary and benefits are minimal. The responsibility at this level is also little. Promotion within an organization occurs according to the company policy, but regardless of this, the recommendation will use the aforementioned criteria. The promotions occur after accountants increase their educational level to Masters or even doctorate level. Experience is calculated using the number of years working as an accountant and the complexity of the cases handled by an accountant.
Individuals can also opt for private practice that revolves around auditing. This involves establishing a consultancy firm that visits customers as part of an audit team and assessing their business processes and financial records to ascertain the legitimacy of the company’s accounts. Private auditors can have the opportunity to visit about 20 companies every year and assess their financial records. Private accounting also involves tax consultancy and business counsel on a private level.
The significance of an accountant
An accountant is important in that they evaluate records developed by bookkeepers and illustrate the results of these inquiries as losses and profits, outflows, economies, or fluctuations in value, to make known the development or failures of the business and its future restrictions and possibilities. They are also crucial since they are able to make a set of financial records and recommend the best system of accounts that will effortlessly provide the preferred information. Accounts are also capable of arriving at comprehensive views of the economic and authorized features of a business, viewing the outcome of every transaction, distinguish and classify all factors that determine of the true state of the business, for example, the statistics, financial records, expenditures and fiscal changes (Cooper & Sherer 49).
Accounting is essential for purposes of analysis and making decisions. Businesses are controlled by informed decisions that are because of the sound analysis done by accountants. Without proper accountancy, businesses would not be able to achieve this order and companies would operate in blindness. Investors also base their investment decisions on the analysis done by accountants, for example, the liquidity, profitability and efficiency of a company are all made available through accountants. Accountants are also responsible for record keeping. Economies are stable because of the excellent record keeping database maintained by different companies and government agencies such as the IRS.
These companies employ accountants to do this work for them. Data is collected from various sources and organized, categorized and interpreted to the consumers for sound economic decisions that will yield positive economic results in the long term. States are able to prepare their economic activities mainly because of the valuable information collected and organized by accountants. Governments rely on the records from accountants to develop monetary and fiscal policies. Therefore, accountants are vital to the proper running of a company or an economy.
Accountants are also responsible for building the reputation and credit among individuals and institutions. Businesses and individuals need to have credit for obtaining loans and other privileges. Establishing a sound accounting information system is imperative for such credit. Any company that has an efficient accounting system will also prosper in the other aspects of the company. Accounting also helps in preventing and discovering fraud using forensic accounting. This branch of accounting provides evidence on company fraud as well as individual fraud. All major firms have special forensic accounting departments that employ accountants to investigate insurance claims, construction audits and personal accidents.
Most businesses have two major objectives that are to make profits and to remain operational and the information to achieve these objectives is supplied by accounting. Accounting is significant in that it enables a company to uphold inclusive and methodically prepared records of economic proceedings by organizing financial books while easing the information for diverse purposes. Furthermore, accounting aids in confirming the outcomes in terms of profit or loss and giving the information about financial state of the company to the owners of a business. Accounting information is important to the relevant managers to ensure that the business entity is being run accordingly. It is also useful for the customers and employees in order to know the state of the business entity. Accountants are therefore valuable in maintaining profit margins for a company in an indirect way (Rochelle 67).
Accounting is the foundation of good management for scheduling, calculating and judgment processes within the organization. Through accounting, the performance of a company can be evaluated and its systematic records accessed to eradicate the anomalies. Furthermore, accounting offers useful information for confirming the efficiency and competence of a company.
Accounting is an aspect that needs to be properly implemented and run in any organization for a company to realize efficiency, accuracy, and effectiveness in terms of overall economic activities and their outcomes. Accounting assists the management in scheduling and making decisions. There is no substitute for honest and gifted accountants with excellent capabilities and diligence because their services are vital in keeping track of economic events as they unfold while shielding entire companies from fraudsters, mistakes and flaws that may be detrimental to the future of the company (Institute for Career Research 189).
Students who study accounting at the colleges or universities do so with the purpose of being qualified accountants. What most of the academic community fail to see is that accounting degrees are not the only way to achieve the status of a professional accountant. The reverse is also true in that accountants do not necessarily have to know finance and economics. There are also misconceptions that most accountants work in comfortable office setting. However, most accountants work long hours on repetitive figures that may be very stressful. Self-employed accountants also work from home and this may mean that they do not enjoy the benefits such as retirement packages and other allowances. Accountants employed by the state may also have to travel long distances to different facilities where their services are needed. Accountants and auditors are however some of the most lucrative jobs in the world. Most of accountants are employed by the government. However, even the private sector offers many opportunities for CPAs, Public Accountants (PAs) and Accounting Practitioners (APs).
Contrary to popular belief, accounting does not necessarily involve working on issues that touch on the economy and finance. Branches of accounting have developed that require more specialization and expertise in the various fields. Forensic accounting may require one to be physically fit and have the skills of a police officer or a soldier. Generally, accounting has evolved into smaller and smaller subsections that have further been refined by different forces such as globalization and digitalization. With the introduction of information technology, accounting has evolved into a global aspect of companies that cannot be dismissed as insignificant (Accounting Verse 26).
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