The practice of accounting has been around for almost as long as civilization itself. When early cultures developed the concept of money and trade, they also began to record these exchanges to ensure they received everything owed to them. Using rudimentary mathematics, they found ways to keep track of credits and debts.
Though the field of accounting has changed since its early days, the discipline is still incredibly useful. As global markets have grown and developed, accounting has diverged into many subfields. In each of these, trained professionals manage budgets, keep financial records, and analyze data. Continue reading to find out more about the current job market in the United States and the types of accountants who are in high demand.
Explore the Accounting Job Market
As of May 2018, there were 1.4 million accountants and auditors working in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects there will be 90,700 jobs added to the market from 2018 to 2028. This growth rate of 6% slightly outpaces the national job market growth (5%) during that span. Currently, 24% of all accountants work in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services — by far the largest segment of the workforce. Government and financial institutions each employ about 8% of the workforce, while self-employed and company management accountants make up 7%.
The BLS indicates the median annual salary for accountants is $70,500. Pay does not vary much based on employer type, but can vary based on experience and geographic location. Accountants who work for the government, financial and insurance companies, accounting firms, tax preparation services, and bookkeeping and payroll services, as well as those in company management, all earn median annual salaries between $68,420 (government) and $74,690 (finance and insurance).
What Types of Accountants Are There?
While all accountants work with financial records and budgets in one way or another, their purpose and specific job duties vary. Some jobs in which accountants are in high demand are outlined below.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
CPAs are experts in financial laws and regulations. They help individuals and businesses stay compliant with these laws. They assist with filing tax returns, provide advice on financial matters, and ensure their clients’ finances are being managed effectively. These accounting professionals must pass a CPA licensing exam and stay up to date on any changes in legal codes to maintain their licenses. They might work for themselves, for companies in accounting departments, or for accounting firms as consultants.
Forensic accountants’ work comes into play in legal cases. Their job is to examine the financial documents of businesses or individuals as they attempt to find evidence that can resolve pending or ongoing litigation. They estimate debts, value investments, and assess damages and economic losses. They often aid attorneys, providing finance-related support for legal claims. They also work with investigators analyzing finances for evidence of crime.
Government accountants work for local, state, or federal governments. They perform internal audits of various agencies, assist federal prosecutors in crime investigations, conduct research, manage local revenues, and collect taxes. Federal government accountants could work for the U.S. Department of the Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Auditors ensure organizations utilize funds appropriately. They can be internal auditors, who work in-house for organizations, or external auditors, who work for outside entities. For example, auditors might ensure a nonprofit organization is spending its grant money on its stated mission or confirm that an investment firm is putting its clients’ money into the proper funds.
Managerial accountants provide executives with an accurate picture of a company’s finances and economic outlook. Typically, their reports are for internal use, examining income and expenses, cost of labor, production costs, and opportunities for financial improvement. These accountants are in high demand because they offer insight into the future cash flow of the company. Managerial accountants also help manage staff, evaluate financial forecasts, and create budget projections.
Discover How an Advanced Degree Can Help You
Accountants who want to earn a job in a high-paying, competitive field can benefit greatly from an advanced degree. Knowledge of business law, accounting principles, and data analytics helps graduates gain an edge in the job market. Find out more about how Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Accounting can give you the tools you need to pursue an exciting and potentially lucrative career.
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AccountingWeb, “Where Will Accounting Jobs Be in 10 Years?”
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Forbes, “The Next-Generation Accountant”
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Investopedia, “Where Do Accountants Earn the Most Money?”
Maryville University, Master of Science in Accounting Online
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Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs, What Does a CPA Do?