What does a Accountant do?

Median Pay $68,150
Growth Rate 11%
Citation Retrieved in 2017 from BLS.gov

Accountants have a very important place in the finance and business industries. They examine the financial records of a business, ensure the accuracy of those records, and then prepare financial reports to leadership regarding the companies profits and losses. They would also ensure taxes are paid and sent in on time.

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How to Become an Accountant


Accountants must earn a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or a related field. This can be completed at a state college or university. According to O*NET OnLine, almost 80% of accountants hold bachelor’s degrees. After earning a bachelors degree some accountants choose to become certified or specialize in a focused area. Though this is voluntary, it provides an edge when looking for employment in comparison to other applicants.

In order to become certified, you can earn a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification by passing an exam administered by the jurisdiction’s Board of Accountancy. However, other certifications that an accountant can earn are the Personal Finance Specialist certification, Accredited in Business Valuation certification, or a Certified Information Technology Professional certification. All of these certifications increase employment opportunities.

Job Description of an Accountant

Accountants and auditors ensure that companies or organizations are efficiently operating. They do this by accessing financial records of their clients. Duties include analyzing data, finance reports, budgets, tax returns, and accounting records. An accountant reports findings to management regarding finances and sometimes may make suggestions to become more financially efficient or stable.

An accountant may analyze government agency records or work for clients in areas such as compensation, data processing, health care benefits or even estate planning for taxes. Accountants and auditors may prepare reports for budgeting costs to actual costs for a company or organization. An accountants working hours vary depending on the season. For instance, the end of a fiscal year or tax time at the end of the year would require longer hours than other times, but one should expect this to be at least a 40 hour work week.

Accountant Job Posting

Let’s look at an actual accountant job description posted by the U.S. Treasury Department. The U.S. Treasury Department posted a job announcement looking for an accountant to perform the following tasks:

  • Perform accounting, analysis, and reporting to maintain financial related systems within the Federal Financing Bank and prepare or advise on journal entries and other accounting transactions.
  • Provide guidance and advise on accounting issues when requested by OMB and government-wide accounting and provide feedback on deliberative memoranda from OMB.
  • Analyze and affect changes to large, complex accounting and financial management systems, providing analysis to improve the quality of financial management reports and services.
  • Support the management, administration, special analysis, workflow management, training, work results, coordination and overall operation of the Accounting team by providing complex analysis and accounting support.

The job posting ran October of 2017 on USAjobs.gov.

Accountant Career Video Transcript

What’s the difference between an accountant and an auditor? Basically, accountants keep track of an organization’s money, and auditors check their work. But there’s much more to the work than simply balancing the books. These financial professionals make sure the organization’s finances operate properly. They are involved in analyzing financial information and records, and preparing reports related to budgeting, cost control, employee compensation, new product development, and of course calculating taxes. If money’s involved, accountants and auditors are too. In fact, so many areas need accounting and auditing services that many professionals opt to specialize. Some become tax specialists. Others become employee benefits experts. While still others concentrate on preparing the income statements and balance sheets every publicly-held corporation must file. Auditors and accountants work in a wide range of industries from accounting companies to hospitals, insurance firms to manufacturing. To take full advantage of the many opportunities for accountants and auditors, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting. To become a “Certified Public Accountant” or “CPA,” in many states you will need 150 hours of college coursework to qualify to take the state licensing exam. And, as long as there is money to spend, accountants and auditors will be needed to make sure it’s accurately recorded.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors.

National Center for O*NET Development. 13-2011.01. O*NET OnLine.

The video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.