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Accountants & Auditors Careers: Employment & Salary Trends

Accountants & Auditors at a Glance

Accountants & auditors are responsible for preparing and examining financial reports and taxes. Many accountants & auditors work in office settings while a growing number are becoming self-employed and work from home. There are several different types of accountants & auditors including: public, management, internal, government, and forensic.

Public accountants & auditors work for corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations and individuals. They perform a wide variety of services including accounting, auditing, tax preparation, and consulting. Management accountants & auditors “manage” the certain financial aspects of the companies they work for. They are responsible for cost and asset management, budgeting, and
performance evaluation.

Internal accountants & auditors are the “police” the organizations they work for by checking for mismanagement of funds, waste, and fraud. They also have the task of confirming the accuracy their organization’s internal records. Government accountants & auditors’ role is to audit and maintain the records of government agencies. The government also sends its accounting and auditing agents out to audit private businesses.

Forensics accountants & auditors work on cases involving bankruptcy, fraud, divorce, and capital crime. They help analyze and interpret financial and business evidence and they may also testify in criminal court cases.

Schools to consider:

Employment Trends

Job Outlook: Above-average increase
Annual Openings: 134,463
Percent Growth: 17.7%
Total Jobs Held: 1,274,0000 (2007)
Projected Employment: 1.5 million by 2016
The Best 500 Jobs Overall Ranking: 27

Source: “Best Jobs for the 21st Century,” JIST Publishing 2009. Farr, Michael and Shatkin, Laurence, Ph.D.; “Salary Facts Handbook,” JIST Publishing 2008. Editors @ JIST..

Accountants & Auditors currently represent the fourth fastest growing sector in the world of professional careers. Accounting & Auditing has grown at a much faster pace than most other professional careers for several reasons. During America’s economic downturn, the need to tighten its belt became a necessity for the vast majority of companies, small businesses, and individuals across the nation. Accountants & Auditors have become a necessity in both the public and private sectors in order to help America’s businesses reevaluate its finances and draft a better financial plan for the future.

Accountants & Auditors with exceptional skills have been recruited at a rapid pace to step in and help the federal government monitor it’s (and the nation’s companies) records and spending as well. Accountants & Auditors have been elected to sort through America’s financial paperwork in an effort to help pinpoint problems, identify discrepancies, and suggest solutions. And finally, more and more individuals are enlisting the help of accountants & auditors as financial advisors to help them develop personal budgets, plan for retirement, and manage investments.

Accountants & auditors with an advanced degree, 5-10 years’ experience, and CPA status are most in demand. Over 57.86% of accountants & auditors have 5 or more years of work experience. More than 38% have 10 or more years’ experience. While accountants & auditors are in great demand all across the U.S. and even overseas, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island and the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County metropolitan regions experienced the largest amount of growth.

Accountants & auditors are projected to reap a significant number of financial benefits from the federal governments plan to strengthen America’s economy. The industry also expects to see an influx of job openings resulting from thousands of baby boomers that are expected to retire at the end of the decade. Currently, baby boomers make up more than a third of the nations workforce. Continue reading to learn more about accountants & auditors projected earnings.

Salary Trends

In 2009, accountants & auditors with advanced degrees earned an average salary of $57,060 per year. This figure represents a 4.1%  increase of over 2008 ($54,630). Although accountants & auditors holding a Bachelor’s degree earned significantly less that advanced degree holders in 2009, with an average starting salary of $42,520, they started at roughly 14% more than bachelor’s degree holders in 2008 ($34,470). Accountant & auditor salaries increase significantly with experience and they are also based on the type of firm and type of accountant. Top earner’s in any area of accounting & auditing can expect to make $71,960-$94,050+ per year.

Degrees and Training Programs

The vast majority of accountants & Auditors are excellent in math and hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in business, finance, or other related field. Accountants & auditors with advanced degrees, such as an MBA in finance, typically earn more than accounting bachelor’s degree holders. Certification and other designations also help increase earning potential and employability. In addition to Certified Public Accountant (COA), certifications and designations include but are not limited to:

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CSSA)
  • Accredited Business Accountant (ABA)
  • Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA)
  • Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP)
  • Elder Care Specialist (ECS)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  • Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)

For CPA's Only

  • Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV)
  • Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designations

Coursework Required

Accounting major undergraduates will take a combination of accounting and business administration courses including accounting, statistics, finance, economics, marketing, business marketing, and information systems. Many accounting & auditing programs also require research and writing, advanced business writing, and business law courses, as well as philosophy (moral issues), and a number of behavioral science courses.

For the Master of Accountancy, MBA, etc., aspiring accountants & auditors must complete advanced courses in areas such as finance, economics, marketing, business law, communications, operations management, management and organizational behavior, taxation, and accounting policy.

Did you know that government accountants were responsible for bringing Al Capone to justice? The infamous 1920s Chicago mobster was not convicted for the murders he committed, he was convicted of tax evasion.