Government accountants work in the public sector, managing the all-important budgets for departments, agencies, and governmental units of all sizes and types. Organizations that use tax dollars for operating funds have reporting requirements (to city councils, legislatures and county executives, for example) that can be diverse and require careful attention.
Perhaps the most exhaustive example of government accounting is the Federal Office of Management and Budget, an organization of 500 employees that monitor expenditures from the federal budget on behalf of the Executive Branch. Federal government accountants may also be IRS agents.
Government accountants usually need a minimum of a bachelors degree in accounting or business or public administration with an accounting focus. Many are CPAs; many hold masters degrees as well.
The Association of Government Accountants grants the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation for government accountants at the federal, state, and local levels. Candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, 24 hours of study in financial management, 2 years of experience in government, and passing scores on a series of three exams.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there were about 100,000 government accountants working at federal, state and local levels during 2006.
The growth of accounting jobs overall will be excellent over the next several years. There will be expanding opportunities in certain segments of government, as the Federal Government moves into a massive spending program in an attempt to right the economy.
Mean Salary Local Government $26.11 $54,300
Mean Salary State Government $24.46 $50.880
Mean Salary Federal (Executive Branch) $39.22 $81,570