Public accountants: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks. Their clients include corporations, governments, and individuals.
Public accountants work with financial documents that clients are required by law to disclose. These include tax forms and balance sheet statements that corporations must provide to potential investors. For example, some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, advising corporations about the tax advantages of certain business decisions or preparing individual income tax returns.
Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Publicly traded companies are required to have CPAs sign documents they submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including annual and quarterly reports.
Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and potentially criminal financial transactions. Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
- Education Required
- Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelors degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a masters degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 10% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.
- Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.
- Median pay: How much do Accountants and Auditors make?
- $68,150 Annual Salary
- $32.76 per hour
Careers for Accountants and Auditors
- Account auditors
- Certified public accountants
- Compliance auditors
- Corporate accountants
- Cost accountants
- Environmental auditors
- External auditors
- Field auditors
- Financial accountants
- Financial auditors
- Forensic accountants
- Fund accountants
- Government accountants
- Government accountants and auditors
- Industrial accountants
- Information technology auditors
- Internal auditors
- Management accountants
- Payroll auditors
- Private accountants
- Tax accountants