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Career Information

Accountants and Auditors: Career, Salary and Education Information

Accountant & Auditor Career Profile
Accountants and auditors are chiefly concerned with maintaining fiscal accuracy for businesses, individual clients, and governments. Job duties are varied among the four major fields of accounting--management, public, internal auditing, and government accounting.

Improvements in technology have led to special accounting software packages, which help to simplify the data management and recordkeeping side of accounting work. In turn, accountants and auditors are increasingly called upon to perform technical work, such as auditing computer networks or developing a business' technology plans as they relate to finance.

A Day in the Life of Accountants & Auditors
Accountants and auditors generally work a standard 40-hour week in a typical office setting. Some may work longer hours and take their work home with them, particularly those who are self-employed or have a large client base. Travel may be required for accountants working at multiple firms or those employed by public accounting firms or government agencies.

The tax season can additionally require long hours for accountants working as tax professionals. Freelancing jobs are also popular during this time, particularly for self-employed accountants.

Accountant & Auditor Training and Education
A bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or a related field is considered the standard qualification for most careers in the field. Opportunities are best for those with a master's degree, certification and licensure, or direct experience in the field. Many accountants and auditors choose to obtain certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Any accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must be a CPA.

Junior accounting positions may be available for graduates of accounting associate's degree programs, but advancement for accountants and auditors may require additional education. Some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree, or an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Typical coursework in accounting degree programs includes cost management, accounting information systems, auditing, and federal taxation.

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Employment & Outlook
Generally accountants and auditors work in government and private business, with about 21 percent employed in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services. Other popular industries include management of companies and enterprises, local and state government, and insurance carriers.

Employment opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years. Career growth is expected at 18 percent through 2016, adding 226,000 jobs to the industry.

Accountant & Auditor Salary Information
Mean annual wages for accountants and auditors were $63,180 in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top-paying industries include the federal government, with annual mean wages of $81,570, and security and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage firms paying annual mean wages of $77,510. Areas with the highest concentration of accountants and auditors include the District of Columbia, Colorado, Delaware, and New York.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants
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