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Public Accounting Career

Considering a career as a Public Accountant? Find out all you need to know to decide whether this career is right for you.

What does a Public Accountant do?

Certified Public Accountants perform a wide variety of services due to both the nature of any CPA job as well as the large variety of specialized fields a CPA may enter. However, to encompass all specializations, Certified Public Accountant are valuable because of their knowledge of money matters and their ability to use their knowledge to facilitate organizations' proper business functions.

In Assurance (or Auditing) Services, Certified Public Accountants are expected to collect, examine and attest to the validity of an organization's financial records with respect to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This information is then forwarded to stock holders and regulating organizations. Due to previous accounting scandals, this information is highly scrutinized and extremely sensitive, especially in larger corporations. Today, Public Accountants who prepare financial documents or perform auditing services are not allowed to give financial advise to the same organization.

Certified Public Accountants may also be charged with the task of financial planning both in the corporate environment with developing plans for mergers or acquisitions and for individuals with regard to retirement planning or asset management.

Public Accountants can be employed by corporations, the government, accounting firms or be self-employed. In every situation, Certified Public Accountants have long working weeks, typically in the range of 50 hours per week or more.

To be successful as a CPA, you will need to enjoy working with numbers as well as enjoy assessing the financial functions of businesses. Many veteran Public Accountants love for their jobs is due in large part to their love of practical and useful knowledge. The financial operations of businesses in America are based on the fundamental concepts of Capitalism. Based on this system, many organizations' operations are constantly evolving and morphing in order to thrive. Many Certified Public Accountants enjoy the dynamic environment that is produced under our economic system.

As a Certified Public Accountant you will also need to have effective interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. You will need be able to communicate complex concepts to others while also maintaining strong business relations with existing clients or employers (especially if you are self-employed).

How to Become a Public Accountant?

Educational requirements may vary slightly depending on the company, the area you wish to work and your previous work experience.

For most Certified Public Accounting careers, the minimum educational requirement is the completion of a Bachelor's degree. However, many organizations like to hire individuals with an MBA in Accounting.

You will also need to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. In order to sit for this exam, you will need to have at least a Bachelor's degree as well as one extra year of study. Many Accountants refer to this as the "150 hour" rule. You will also need to have some amount of work experience. The amount may vary depending on the state you live in.

You will also need to complete the continuing education requirements put in place by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Beyond a quality education and the development of skills necessary to succeed as a Certified Public Accountant, you will need to learn where to gain experience by finding career opportunities.

You will find some career opportunities on CPA Career portals such as the AICPA Career Center; however, you will probably have quicker results if you contact a local recruiter or begin contacting hiring firms directly. You may find Certified Public Accounting openings under newspaper or online classifieds (Craigslist or Monster.com).

What is a Public Accountant's Salary?

As a Certified Public Accountant, your salary can vary significantly depending on your level of experience, your level of acquired education and size of the company you work for.

The median salary* for an Accountant or Auditor is $54,600.

The top 10% of Accountants and Auditors are pulling in an average of $94,100.

In order to boost yourself to this level of success, you will need to perform highly, develop years of experience at a respectable company and lastly, earn yourself an advanced degree.

Request information from some of the top online schools in the United States. Online schools are becoming more popular for the working professional and are already highly respected in the business arena.

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* Source: The Bureau of Labor and Statistics for 2006

How does the future look for a Public Accountant?

Job growth for Accountants and Auditors is expected to grow faster than average. The increased demand for workers in this field is thought to be due in large part to the increased complexity of financial operations in today's businesses. Technology and streamlined business functions are adding to organizations' needs to keep better track of financial information.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics forecasts from 2004 to the year 2014, the United States will see an increase in Accountant and Auditor employment of 22% from 1,176,200 to 1,440,100 individuals in the field.

The future looks bright for the Certified Public Accounting profession, so go ahead and get started!

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