Many small businesses outsource their bookkeeping to public accountants, individuals who have an educational background in accounting and have their own businesses. Public accountants may handle tax preparation, payroll functions and manager the basic ledger for a small or medium sized business on a consultant or contract basis. Some small business accountants act as financial advisors for their clients as well. Increasingly, public accountants servicing small businesses are working out of the home.
Business accountants who work in large firms are also called managerial accountants, corporate accountants or private accountants. They analyze the financial data for their employers and prepare reports for senior management. Business accountants at this level oversee budget development, cash flow, asset management and capital expenditures.
Most small-business accountants hold at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field such as economics. Business accountants at the corporate level may hold a master's degree in accounting or an MBA with emphasis in accounting. For business accountants at both the public and private level, certification as a CPA can contribute to the resume.
About 20% of all accountants work for accounting firms that provide services to individuals and to small and medium-sized businesses. Ten percent are self employed. The balance are employed by the government or by businesses large enough to have an accounting department.
The job outlook for business accountants is strong and will be amplified somewhat by the increased regulation and reporting requirements that are going to be a byproduct of the economic downturn. The accounting profession was projected at an 18% growth rate from 2006 - 2016 by the Department of Labor, well above the average growth rate projected for all professions.
Lowest 10% $36,720
Median Salary $59,430
Highest 10% $102,380
Source: U.S. Department of Labor