What are career opportunities in accounting?

2. Work opportunities for accountants

As an accountant, you can have the following work opportunities (not an exhaustive list):

Self-employed: you can work individually or form a partnership with other accountants. In such a case, it is advisable to have your CPA license. Many independent accountants prepare tax returns and consult small businesses. Some of them specialize in a certain type of services or industries.

Private accounting: every company has in-house accounting department to track payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable and to prepare budgets and financial statements. Public companies may also have an internal audit department. Career opportunities in private accounting encompass such areas as financial accounting, cost accounting, tax accounting, budgeting, accounting information systems, and internal auditing.

Public accounting: many students entering the accounting profession go into public accounting to acquire a greater skill set, get exposed to complex accounting issues, and improve their resumes. The Big Four public accounting firms include the following (in alphabetical order): Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte), Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Other public accounting firms, to name a few, include BDO Seidman, BKD, CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman, Crowe Horwath, Grant Thornton, McGladrey & Pullen, Moss Adams, and many others. These companies provide services in such areas as auditing, taxation, forensic accounting, and advisory services.

Government: the biggest government employers of accountants include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Government accountants administer budgets, prepare financial statements, analyze public programs, review government contracts, track costs, etc.

Non-for-profit: nonprofit organizations seek such accounting services as auditing, tax preparation, and advisory (e.g., developing financial plan and internal controls, determining level of cash reserves, evaluating new program proposals). The growth of nonprofit sector offers many opportunities for accountants, especially CPAs.

Education: education sector offers many opportunities for accounting graduates as there is a growing shortage of accounting faculty. This demand is fueled by the increasing retirement of accounting faculty hired in the 1960-70s to teach baby boomers, in addition to the increased college enrollment.

Other: there are many other business services that can be provided by accountants. There are companies that provide accounting outsourcing services: for example, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) provides payroll and tax compliance services. Accountants can provide daily money management (DMM) services. Aging baby boomers population, that is projected to exceed 70 million by 2030, is likely to need accountants to handle finances (e.g., pay bills, oversee financial transactions, and balance checkbooks), prepare tax returns, and plan long-term care.

All in all, knowledge of accounting in addition to education and experience offers numerous career opportunities!

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