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Career Overview: Accountant

The basic accounting job keeps financial and public records for a business or agency, usually handles payroll functions and makes sure that all taxes are paid in a timely manner. Business accountants prepare financial analysis documents for the use of executives involved in budget and expenditure decisions. In many commercial operations the primary sales and internal audits come from the accounting department.

Private accountants provide tax preparation services, budget analysis and even financial planning services. Some private accountants work with law firms or brokerages that specialize in estate planning.

Required Education

Most accounting jobs require a bachelors degree in accounting or a related field. Some government agencies will require four years of college or a combination of relevant experience and education. Many people trying to break into the business will get an associates degree and take an entry level job as a bookkeeper, while obtaining a bachelors degree or enough experience to move up to an accounting position.

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are required to have a certain number of class hours in most states and are required to pursue continuing education on an annual basis.


There were 2.1 million accountants working in 2007, scattered through private firms and public agencies. Some teach part time and hold accounting positions part time.

Job Outlook

Strong growth is expected for this job category in the next five years. Record keeping demands are certainly going to grow with the advent of massive federal involvement in the banking industry and the accounting scandals that emerged in 2008 and 2009.

Salary Range  Hourly  Annual

Lowest 10%  $17.10  $35,570
Median Salary  $27.43  $57,060
Highest 10%  $47.22  $98,220

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