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What does an accountant do?  

Accountants and auditors keep track of a company's money. The company's managers and people outside the company read their reports. Managers look at the accountants' reports to see how well their companies are doing. Governments use the reports to tell how much tax a company should pay. Some people read them to decide if they want to do business with the company. Others use them to decide if they want to lend money to the company or not.

There are four kinds of accountants.

  • Public accountants work for public accounting companies. Some have their own businesses. They do many different kinds of accounting for people outside the company.
  • Management accountants keep track of the money spent and made by the companies for which they work.
  • Internal auditors make sure that a company's accounting records are right. They check the records to see that no one in the company is stealing. They also check to see that no one in the company is wasting the company's money.
  • Government accountants and auditors' make sure that government accounting records are right. They also check the records of people doing business with the government.

Accountants and auditors work in offices. They generally work a standard 40-hour week, but some work 50 hours a week or more. Tax accountants often work long hours during the tax season, from January to April.

How do you get ready to be an accountant?  

Most accountants have a college degree in accounting. Public accountants have to take a special test as well. Public accountants also must have a special license from the State in which they live. Some employers want accountants who have a master's degree in business or accounting. Most employers want accountants who know quite a bit about computers.

People who want to be accountants should be good at math. They also should be able to write well, so that they can tell others about their findings.

How much does an accountant make?  

The middle half of all accountants earned between $37,210 and $61,630 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $30,320. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $82,730 a year. Earnings of accountants depend on how long they have been working.

How many jobs are there?  

There were 1.1 million accountants and auditors in 2002. Most of them worked in cities, because that is where the large companies tend to be.

What about the future?  

Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012.

Accountants have good job opportunities. Accountants who have a lot of special skills, such as certified public accountants (CPAs) and certified management accountants, should have the easiest time finding a job.

Are there other jobs like this?  

  • Actuaries
  • Bookkeeping clerks
  • Budget analysts
  • Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators
  • Cost estimators
  • Financial analysts
  • Financial managers
  • Insurance sales agents
  • Insurance underwriters
  • Loan officers
  • Personal financial advisors
  • Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
  • Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where can you find more information?
More information about accountants and auditors can be found in the Careers Database.

Questions or Comments?
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