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Advance Your Accounting Career

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Accountants and auditors provide vital services to modern business organizations. They are responsible for numerous day-to-day financial tasks, such as payroll, tracking expenses and revenues, bookkeeping, and profit and loss analysis. Accountants work in a variety of areas within their organizations, including taxation, consulting, accounting management services, and auditing. Accountants with considerable experience in the profession also analyze costs and trends to predict future income and expenditure.

Accounting has the potential to propel aspiring professionals to the top of the career ladder. In fact, many directors, board members, and chief financial officers started out as accountants.

A diverse range of exciting careers is available to accounting graduates. Individuals who wish to pursue public accounting should aim for entry-level positions in taxation, consulting services, and staff auditing. Such positions typically require one to work under a senior accountant. Typical tenures for these positions last from three to six years.

Most employers will consider professionals with bachelor's degrees in accounting, finance, or a related discipline. An aspiring accountant interested in a federal job should have at least a four-year accounting or related degree. Many employers prefer master's degrees in accounting.

Additionally, accounting professionals can acquire various professional qualifications to advance their careers. The most common designation acquired by accountants is the certified public accountant (CPA) designation. CPAs in the United States need to undertake continuing professional education (CPE) for 40 hours annually or 80 hours biannually to maintain their CPA licenses. Numerous professional agencies provide CPE by way of seminars, courses, and other training programs.

Graduates from accredited colleges with at least two years of experience as internal auditors can become qualified as certified internal auditors (CIAs) by the Institute of Auditors (IIA). The IIA confers three additional qualifications as well: the Certification in Control Self Assessment (CFSA), qualification as a certified government auditing professional (CGAP), and qualification as a certified financial services auditor (CFSA).

Additionally, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) confers the certified information systems auditor (CIFA) designation on professionals who have had five years of experience auditing computerized data-processing systems. Professionals who complete bachelor's degrees can obtain certified management accountant (CMA) qualifications from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) after passing the required examinations.

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants, an affiliate of the IMA, offers the CMA qualification to applicants who have at least two years' experience in management accounting. Moreover, the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT) offers such designations as accredited business accountant (ABA), accredited tax advisor (ATA), accredited tax preparer (ATP), and elder care specialist (ECS) to accountants who wish to specialize in tax preparation for small or medium-sized businesses.

Accountants have a range of career options from which to choose. The right combination of skills, experience, qualifications, and additional designations can serve as a passport to success and advancement in the accounting profession.
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