National Avg. Salary

$75,280 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

10.7% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

Bachelor's Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Don't Take Work Home
  • Good Entry Level Salary
  • High Income Potential
  • Job Security

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Accountants are number crunchers who manage finances and prepare reports. Depending on their interests, accountants may have varied responsibilities. They may manage day-to-day business finances, prepare tax documentation, or work as strategists, using data to provide guidance on financial matters.

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Checkmark Job Description

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in accounting roles:

  • Prepare tax returns for individuals or businesses: ensure eligible deductions are applied, compute taxes owed, and guarantee compliance with applicable tax laws
  • Maintain and update business financial statements and records to support day-to-day financial transactions
  • Monitor transactions to ensure business finances are sound, and provide recommendations on financial decisions
  • Employ thorough record-keeping processes to comply with GAAP and other industry regulations and to safeguard businesses in the event of an audit
  • Prepare, distribute, and present financial reports and balance sheets

A Day in the Life of an Accountant

Accountants work with numbers, managing finances for companies or preparing taxes for individuals. Accountants are also experts in tax laws and financial rules and regulations. Their jobs are really two-fold: they help ensure budgets are correct and finances are in order, and they also make sure the people they work with and the companies they work for are adhering to tax laws and financial regulations.

Accountants will perform most their work on computers, creating budgets, keeping records, and compiling reports. Expect to do a lot of work with spreadsheets or within payroll, bookkeeping, and/or accounting software programs. Accountants are often required to prepare financial reports and assist in financial decision-making, and they may be required to attend company meetings to present findings and recommendations to company leadership.

While some accountants choose to work for companies, other choose to run their own businesses and prepare tax records for individual clients. Business clients that must file taxes quarterly keep these accountants busy year-round, and there is also a surge in business at the beginning of the year when annual tax preparations begin for individuals.

Typical Work Schedule for an Accountant

The majority of accounting jobs are full-time, typically executed during a traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday schedule. Overtime may be required during certain times of the year when closing out a quarter, formulating annual budgets, or preparing taxes during tax season.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

Demand for accountants is expected to grow in coming years due to new laws that impose stricter financial regulations. Additionally, the growing economy should result in an influx of new businesses and an increase in companies that go public, increasing the demand for accountants.

Accounting Specializations

While the majority of accountants are public accountants—an overall term that encompasses all of the responsibilities listed above—more specific roles are available within the field.

  • Bookkeepers manage day-to-day finances, make payments, and collect on invoices.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Most accountants work as CPAs which are certified accountants that going through a college program and take a certification test to ensure they’re qualified to advice individuals and companies on tax and financial matters.
  • Auditors assess company financial records and processes to ensure compliance with regulations, and may offer strategic recommendations on cost-saving process enhancements.
  • Controllers oversee all company financial operations and often manage a team of accountants.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Billing Specialist, Payroll Clerk, Accounts Payable or Receivable Clerk, Bookkeeper
  • Mid-Career: Accountant, Auditor, Controller
  • Late Career: Accounting Manager, Finance Director, Chief Financial Officer

Typical Employers

The most coveted and available roles for accountant are those offered by the Big Four accounting firms: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. However, businesses of all sizes depend on accountants to assist with business operations. Additionally, many accountants are self-employed and offer tax preparation and financial advising services to individuals.

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Wallet Accountant Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

Low Range Low Range

$52,090

Average Average

$75,280

High Range High Range

$118,930

National Hourly Wage

Low Range Low Range

$25/hr

Average Average

$36/hr

High Range High Range

$57/hr

How do Accountant salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Accountant's can make an average annual salary of $75,280, or $36 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $52,090 or $25 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #164 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

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Clipboard How To Become

It’s possible to gain experience prior to earning a CPA license by working in a junior accounting role as a bookkeeper, accounting assistant, or payroll clerk. These positions may be available to individuals who are currently studying for an accounting degree. An associate’s degree in accounting or certificate in bookkeeping may make you a more desirable candidate to employers when hiring for these positions, and often these smaller degrees can be earned while you work toward a bachelor’s degree.

Most accounting jobs require a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or accounting, and CPAs are required to pass the Certified Public Accountant licensing exam. To take the exam, most states require 150 hours of college coursework. The CPA exam for all states is a four-part exam from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Most states also have continuing education requirements to maintain the CPA certification.

For advanced accounting positions, a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA with an accounting focus is generally required. If you know starting out that you want to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you may want to look for a college that offers a combined program that allows you to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time while also accruing the education hours you need to take the CPA exam.


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Quick Summary

  • Optional

    It’s possible to gain experience prior to getting CPA-certified by working in a junior accounting role as a bookkeeper, accounting assistant, or payroll clerk.

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    Bachelor's

Graduation Cap Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Accountant. a Bachelor's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Chart Highest Education Among Accountant

  • 2.7%   Doctorate
  • 20.5%   Masters
  • 55.3%   Bachelors
  • 9.1%   Associates
  • 8%   College
  • 4.2%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

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Chart Up Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

1,332,700

2024 Est. Jobs

1,475,100

Job Growth Rate

10.7%

Est. New Jobs

142,400

How does Accountant job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 142,400 jobs for a total of 1,475,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #170 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

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Employee What Companies Employ The Most Accountants

IndustryCurrent JobsNew Jobs Needed% Increase
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services 350,600 72,900 73%
Management of companies and enterprises 89,400 4,400 5%
Self-employed workers 79,300 2,700 3%

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