What Does an Accountant Do?

An accountant is a person who keeps track of a business’s financial transactions. At the end of the accounting period, the accountant balances the books and prepares financial statements. The accountant also prepares taxes. A person can work in a company’s accounting department as an accounts payable clerk, accounts receivable clerk or a payroll clerk. Many companies have cost accountants on staff. A cost accountant’s role is to analyze and evaluate the overall costs of running a business and present that information to managers in their decision making. A person can also become licensed through their state and work for an accounting firm. A licensed accountant is known as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Accountants can also work for state, local and the Federal government.

Degrees and Experience Needed

A person who wishes to work in an accounting job needs further education. Many entry level accounting jobs require either an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree. Positions such as cost accountant require at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Accounting degree programs are widely available at most colleges and technical schools and many degree programs are offered for working adults who wish to change careers or further their education. A person can also earn a master’s degree or an MBA with an accounting concentration.

A person who wishes to become a CPA must follow their states’ education requirements. Most states require a person complete a 150 credit degree program or possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting in addition to completing other specific courses. The CPA candidate must also pass a state licensing exam in order to receive their certification.

How Much Does an Accountant Make?

The actual salary an accountant earns depends on the position they have. An entry level accounting clerk earns a median salary of $32,000. A higher level cost accountant, a position that requires more education and experience, can earn a median salary of $81,127, according to Salary.com. Supervisors and managers can make more. Geography also plays a part in determining salary. For example, an entry level accounting clerk in New York City can earn a median salary of $37,000. However, the same position pays a median salary of $26,000 in Jackson, Mississippi. All figures are from the website Salary.com.

Future Prospects

The outlook for the accounting profession is very good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow 16 percent in the present decade. The field is expected to grow as companies’ financial needs grow and become more complex as a result of the expanding global economy and with changing financial laws and regulations.

What does an accountant do? An accountant can start out as a clerk. If they take advantage of the ample job and educational opportunities, an entry level accounting clerk can use that education and experience to become higher level accountants, managers or CPA’s.