Though various federal government agencies have varied requirements for federal accounting jobs, most require some of the following:
- Bachelor's degree in accounting from an accredited college or university
- Passing an entrance examination and interview
- Specialized experience equivalent to the given GS or a specific amount of time served in a particular GS grade
- Minimum number of years of experience as an accountant
- Ability to use an automated accounting system
- Frequent travel
- Willingness to relocate frequently
The General Accounting Office
The General Accounting Office (GAO) offers various positions to accountants. A common position is that of Financial Auditor. A financial auditor evaluates internal controls, analyzes financial data, and tests information in financial statements. GAO employees require at least 80 hours of continuing professional education every two years.
Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury has 13 divisions working on tax and economic policies. There are various federal accounting jobs found in the Treasury Department.
Entry-level federal accounting jobs include those of cost accountants in the chief financial officer (CFO) area. Another common position is that of Treasury Enforcement Agent (TEA). The Treasury hires TEAs for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Internal Revenue Service; US Customs Services; and the US Secret Service.
Internal Revenue Service
Though the Internal Revenue Service is an agency of the Department of the Treasury, we will take a separate look at it because it offers the maximum number of federal accounting jobs.
Official position titles include Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting), Internal Revenue Agent — Account Coordinator, Tax Fraud Investigative Assistant, Internal Revenue Agent, and Bankruptcy Specialist.
An accounting career with the IRS requires extensive accounting knowledge. In the IRS you will come across the positions of internal auditor, revenue agent, and special agent. While internal auditors audit and examine the internal records of the IRS, revenue agents monitor and audit the financial records of corporate and individual taxpayers. A special agent works on special cases involving investigations and surveillance work.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prefers an accounting degree as a credential for applicants. You can become an FBI special agent and work on crimes requiring professional accounting knowledge. The FBI's special agents often investigate white-collar crime, financial crime, fraud, public corruption, and bribery.
The Armed Forces
Federal accounting jobs are also found with the US Armed Forces. Each of the Armed Forces needs accountants for their various internal workings. Accountants with the Armed Forces perform similar functions as accountants in the private sector. The Air Force Audit Agency, for example, audits and examines Air Force records for the proper implementation of federal law in financial functions.
If you are looking for federal accounting jobs, it is always recommended that you earn professional certifications such as Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, and Certified Fraud Examiner. Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) is a fairly new certification aimed especially at both state and federal accounting jobs.