Accountants and auditors help firms, individual clients, companies, and the government to ensure that these entities run efficiently, their public records is maintained accurately and taxes are paid properly and timely. Fundamental tasks of Accountants and auditors include analyzing, preparing and verifying financial documents, and communicating financial information for their clients. Many accountants and auditors also offer services of budget analysis, financial and investment planning, and information technology consulting besides limited legal services.
The nature of specific job duties of accountants and auditors are widely spread in four major fields of accounting and auditing that are public, management, government accounting, and internal auditing.
Activities of public accountants involve broad range of accounting, auditing, tax and consulting for their clients; the clients could be non profit organizations, governments, individuals, or corporations. Some public accountants concentrate on tax matters only while others offer advice in compensation or employee health care benefits, etc. There are some public accountants that audit financial statements of their clients and keep investors and authorities informed that the financial statements have been made and reported correctly. These accountants are also termed as external auditors. Many of the public accountants are certified public accountants having their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. There are some other public accountants that are specialized in forensic accounting like investigating and interpreting crimes related to securities frauds and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, etc.
Management accountants are usually part of executive teams involved in strategic development or planning of new products. They are also called cost accountants, managerial accountants, industrial accountants, corporate accountants or private accountants. The nature of their duties involves budgeting, performance evaluation, cost management, and asset management.
Accountants and auditors employed in the federal, state, and local government are Government accountants and auditors. They ensure compliance of laws and regulations in the matters of revenue receipts and expenditures.
The nature of the job of internal auditors includes verification of the effectiveness of the internal controls of their organization. They keep a check on mismanagement, fraud, and waste. Firms' financial and information systems, management procedures, and internal controls are examined and evaluated by them to ensure accuracy of records and adequacy of controls.
Accountants and auditors should possess at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Entry level positions in accounting and auditing in the Federal Government usually require 4 years of college (that includes 24 semester hours in accounting or auditing) or an equivalent combination of experience and education. A master's degree in accounting or a master's degree in business administration focusing in accounting is also preferred by some employers.
Mostly at the beginning the accountants and auditors work under the close supervision of an experienced accountant or auditor before they gain independent responsibility.
An accountant has to pass a national examination and meet other requirements of the state where he intends to practice before he is registered as a Certified Public Accountant. For filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is required by law that the accountant should be a certified public accountant.
In May 2006 the annual median earnings of accountants and auditors were $54,630. The middle 50 percent of them had earnings between $42,520 and $71,960. The higher 10 percent received more than $94,050 while the lower 10 percent had an earning of less than $34,470.
There were 1.3 million jobs of accountants and auditors in the US working throughout the government and private industry in the year 2006. 21 percent of these operations professionals worked for the firms of accounting, tax preparation, payroll services, and bookkeeping on wage and salary basis. There were about 10 percent accountants or auditors who were self employed. Most of the internal auditors, management accountants, government accountants and auditors are not Certified Public Accountants.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a strong growth of accountants and auditors during the decade of 2006-16 which will be mainly due to stricter accounting and auditing regulations besides the expansion of economy. A candidate having a college degree or any certification, especially a Certified Public Accountant will see the best job prospects. It is expected that there will be a growth of 18 percent in the employment of accountants and auditors between 2006 and 2016. There will be a large number of new jobs in this rapidly growing profession that will be almost 226,000 over the projected period.