Public accountants are typically the professionals in an accounting firm. They cover a broad range of services including tax consulting and preparation, consultation on accounting and data programs, management of compensation and benefits, and external audits for business clients who request them.
Public accountants are not necessarily Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) but they have similar training and educational backgrounds. Some public accountants provide investigative services for law enforcement agencies who are trying to develop evidence of fraudulent business transactions. Some become specialists in cash management and asset protection for large retail establishments. Public accountants have an enormous range of businesses from which to choose as potential career options.
Public accountants almost always hold bachelors degrees in business or accounting. Many hold masters degrees. Public accountants are licensed by the states in which they work; most states require a certain number of annual hours of ongoing training or education.
There were 1.3 million accountants working in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The large majority of these professionals are public accountants, many of whom have achieved CPA status.
The overall job growth projection for accountants and auditors is excellent, with growth expected to be in the 18% range. Many of these new accounting positions will be the result of more stringent requirements on corporations, banks and the financial sector for periodic reports of activity and fiscal health.
Lowest 10% $17.10/hour; $35,570/year
Median Salary $27.43/hour; $57,060/year
Highest 10% $47.22/hour; $98,220/year
Source: U.S. Department of Labor