What is an Accountant?
At first glance, accounting may seem like a fairly straightforward job – just number crunching, right? In actuality, an accountant is a professional who specializes in various aspects of finances, both individual and business. Being an accountant involves measuring and managing financial information to help investors, managers, business owners, and other individuals, helping them to make sound decisions with their finances. They may also keep track of transactions, watch a company’s financial performance, or create financial statements.
The types of Accountants:
All Accountants work with finance in some form or another, but there are multiple types of accountants:
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
A CPA is an accountant that oversees all aspects of a business or organization’s finances. Often, they are considered a trusted advisor, and may perform duties that include tax preparation, audits, financial reviews, and litigation services.
An auditor performs audits and records reviews for a company or organization. An auditor may assess and maintain financial records, analyze account books and records, verity financial statements, and provide recommendations for financial improvement. Many auditors are brought in from outside the company to ensure non-biased audits.
Forensic accountants’ study and ensure that financial records are accurate. They may also be brought into an organization to determine any discrepancies, errors, or instances of fraud within the financial report. Most work in litigation or investigation support.
All forms of government, federal, state, and local, require various types of accountants. Government accountants may work for any level of government and help to analyze and implement taxpayer dollars in the most efficient way possible. A government accountant may also help the government formulate fiscal plans for each calendar year. These accountants may also work for the IRS, helping to audit both individuals and organizations.
Management accountants are responsible for helping business owners and managers make correct financial decisions for their organization. Management accountants may prepare external financial reports, prepare business budgets, analyze profitability, and access risks. These accountants must also prepare and communicate the financial aspects of a company in a way that others can easily understand.
Cost Accountants are typically responsible for helping a business improve its process to become more profitable. This type of accountant may analyze all costs related to labor, production, shipping, and other day-to-day operations of a business. Using this information, cost accountants then make recommendations to businesses on how they can save money and increase profit margins.
Staff accountants are the most common type of accountant and are accounting professionals that are a part of a company or organization. Their duties typically include maintaining a company’s accounts, analyzing, and preparing financial statements, reconciling accounts, maintaining payroll, and other various bookkeeping responsibilities. The responsibilities of a staff accountant will vary depending on the size and type of company they work for.
What is the Difference Between Public and Private Accounting?
The biggest question after graduating with an accounting degree, is the type of career you want to have. This decision may involve a few factors, including the type of work, your personality traits, and your own career goals.
Public accountants are trained in the analysis of the accounting systems of companies and the validation of the company’s financial disclosures. They must also be well versed with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which govern the accounting standards in the preparation of statements for client companies. Public accountants are trained in the analysis of accounting systems and validation of financial disclosures. They may also be exposed to a plethora of industries given the nature of their work. Public accountants are almost always required to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), due to their need to have the trust of the public. They may also be required to travel from their office to the client’s location.
Private accountants are more likely to develop expertise in recording accounting transactions, including billings, accounts receivable, and accounts payable, which eventually forms financial statements. They may have limited knowledge of industries other than the one they focus on due to the specificity of their work. Being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is not required, but is highly recommended, and can be a great was to boost yourself above competition. Private accountants usually have a fixed work location, with little to no travel, and will usually work for an individual company compared to multiple.
No matter what type of Accountant you choose to be, the recruitment team at BOS Staffing can help you find the job in Atlanta that suits your needs.
Important Accounting Skills:
Attention to Detail:
Professional Accountants must pay close attention to detail in order to keep information accurate and organized. With the vast amount of financial data and information that must be processed and analyzed, it can be very easy to make mistakes; however, simple errors can translate into much larger problems if not caught and rectified.
Accountants of all types must be able to listen carefully to gather necessary information and figures from clients, managers, or other stakeholders. They must also be able to clearly articulate the findings and results of their work, as well as present their financial recommendations in written reports and presentations.
To be an effective accountant, you must understand the basic functions of a business, so that accurate analyzation and interpretation of financial data can be given to clients, managers, and other stakeholders. Having a background and foundation in business provides context to the financial information that accountants work with on a daily basis.
In today’s ever-growing technical world, professional accountants need to be able to use advanced accounting software and other computer-based tools to work effectively. These may include the Microsoft Suite of tools (Teams, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.), online banking tools, Account Edge Pro, QuickBooks, along with many others. Automated accounting software, such as those listed above, are becoming increasingly influential in the accounting industry. Bookkeepers and accountants spend roughly 85% of their time on tasks that have the potential to be automated.
By automating some of the mundane tasks of accounting, such as manual data entry, tax preparation, payroll, and audits, accountants of the future can spend more time on meaningful data analysis. Implementing accounting automation can allow future accountants to streamline their workflow, making it more effective in the long run.
Collecting and analyzing financial data is a major responsibility for accountants and is an important aspect of identifying patterns and diagnosing potential issues. Applying data analytics to the accounting field is an emerging trend in the industry that is expected to have a growing impact in the future.
One of the common misconceptions is that you have to be a math-wiz to be an accountant. Math skills are necessary to analyze, compare, and interpret data and figures; however, complex math skills are not typically necessary to become an accountant.
Education Requirements for Accountants
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, such as business. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Most universities and colleges offer specialized programming for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, such as those in accounting forensic accounting, internal auditing, or tax accounting. For some, programs for an associate degree in bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing are available.
All About the CPA Examination
Any accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required to be a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Other accountants who choose to get their CPA certification improve their job opportunities and their ability to gain clients. Some employers may even pay the costs of the CPA exam.
To be a licensed CPA, you must be registered with your state’s Board of Accountancy. To become a CPA, you must pass a national exam, along with meeting other standards set by your state. All states require that CPAs complete at least 150 hours of college coursework to be licensed, 30 hours more than required to earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree at most colleges. Many colleges and universities offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement.
All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). You do not have to pass all 4 exams at once but are required to pass all 4 within 18 months of passing your first exam. After passing, and earning your CPA license, all states require continuing education courses, including ethics, for accountants to maintain their license. The AICPA offers several designations. For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Financial Forensics (CFF), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. All of these credentials require experience in the related area, continuing education, and passing an exam.
Earning your CPA’s license is not required, but shows professional competence in a specialized field, which provides an advantage in the job market.
Best Accounting Schools in the Country
There are many great schools across the country to earn a degree in accounting.
Starting with the top 5 schools, no matter their location for an accounting degree:
1: The University of Texas at Austin
2: Brigham Young University at Provo
3: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4: Indiana University at Bloomington
5: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
All of these schools offer spectacular accounting programs that will help you receive the best education possible.
From here out, we will be covering 7 major regions of the United States and covering the best University in those regions for accounting.
Northwest (OR, WA, ID, MT, WY): Similar to the top 5 list, Brigham Young University at Provo is the best university for an accounting degree in this region. BYU at Provo ranks in a #2 nationally.
West (CA, NV, UT, AZ, CO, NM): Both the University of Southern California (#9 nationally) and Arizona State University (#11 nationally) offer great accounting programs
Southeast (TX, AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, TN): The University of Florida offers the best accounting program in the Southeast, coming in at #12 nationally.
Midwest (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, WI, IN, MI, OH, KY): There are plenty of great accounting programs in the Midwest, with the University of Illinois (#3), Indiana University (#4), and the University of Notre Dame (#7) being just a few.
Mid-Atlantic (VA, WV, PA, MD, NY, NJ): The Mid-Atlantic boasts plenty of great schools for accounting, including The University of Pennsylvania (#6) and New York University (#10) being just a few.
Northeast (CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME): Boston College (#12) is by far the best accounting school in the Northeast, coming in at #12 nationally.
No matter which of these schools you decided to go to, all of them can give you the experience needed to become a great accountant. For more information on these schools, and their national rankings, go to US News and World Report.
What is the Job Outlook for Accountants in Atlanta?
The job outlook for accountants is very good. As long as business and individuals need their finances examined and tracked, accountants will have plenty of job options. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for paralegals is as fast as average. It’s projected to grow of a rate of 7% between 2020 and 2030, about as fast as other professions. The BLS projects about 96,000 new jobs for accountants will open up between 2020 and 2030.
Are Accountants in Atlanta in demand?
According to a 2019 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide, accountants with one to three years of experience can earn between $51,000 and $96,500 per year. Those with five or more years of experience can earn as much as $129,250 per year.
Most employers require that candidates hold at least a bachelor’s in accounting or another related field, such as a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management (BAFM). Additional certifications are also preferred in many cases as holding these credentials can help improve a job seeker’s options. Many professionals in the accounting field choose to become Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs, by completing a licensing process given by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
However, there are plenty of other career options beyond a Certified Public Accountant. The accounting industry is filled with a wide range of in-demand finance and accounting careers, and the professional recruitment team at BOS Staffing can help you find your perfect fit.
Find Accountant Jobs in Atlanta Today:
Accountants enjoy exciting, rewarding careers with plenty of growth potential and a solid job outlook throughout the next decade. If you’re interested in becoming an accountant or you would like help finding a job as an accountant, partnering with a staffing agency like BOS Staffing can help you in your journey.
Our recruiters for accountants can match you with an organization—large, mid-size, or small, as well as corporations, businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and more—that lets you thrive in the profession. Contact us online to get in touch with a member of our recruitment team to learn more about our accountant staffing and recruiting services.