Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.
Most accountants and auditors work full time. Overtime hours are typical at certain periods of the year, such as for quarterly audits or during tax season.
How to Become an Accountant or Auditor
A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is typically required to become an accountant or auditor. Completing certification in a specific field of accounting, such as becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), may improve job prospects.
The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $71,550 in May 2019.
Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. In general, employment growth of accountants and auditors is expected to be closely tied to the health of the overall economy. As the economy grows, more workers should be needed to prepare and examine financial records.
Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records, identify potential areas of opportunity and risk, and provide solutions for businesses and individuals. They ensure that financial records are accurate, that financial and data risks are evaluated, and that taxes are paid properly. They also assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.
10 Facts About Accountants and Auditors
1. They Need to Love Details and Close Up Work
Auditors and accountants examine financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations. That means these two professionals have to be good at detail work and checking everything twice. They also inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures and identify potential risks for fraud
2. They Have to Be Mathematical Whizzes.
Accountants and auditors need to know math and how to use it. They compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time. They also have to organize, analyze, and maintain these financial records.
3. Accountants and Auditors Do More Than Math
Accountants and auditors don’t just do math, they also assess financial operations, identify risks and challenges, and make best-practices recommendations to management They also suggest ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits. Not only that, but accountants and auditors may use technology, such as artificial intelligence and robotics process automation, to increase their productivity.
4. They Have to Communicate Findings to non-Math People
In addition to examining and preparing financial documents, accountants and auditors must explain their findings. This includes preparing written reports and meeting face-to-face with organization managers and individual clients.
5. There are Many Accounting and Auditing Specialities to Choose From
Government accountants maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by federal, state, and local governments ensure that revenues are received and spent according to laws and regulations. Their responsibilities include auditing, financial reporting, and management accounting.
Management accountants are also called cost, corporate, industrial, managerial, or private accountants. They combine accounting and financial information to guide business decision making. They also understand financial and nonfinancial data and how to integrate information. The information that management accountants prepare is intended for internal use by business managers, not for the public.
Management accountants often prepare budgets and evaluate performance. They also may help organizations plan the cost of doing business. Some work with financial managers on asset management, which involves planning and selecting financial investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
External auditors check for proper management of an organization’s funds, sources of revenue, and internal controls, such as financial data preparation or managing risks to cybersecurity or the supply chain. They are employed by an outside organization, rather than the one they are auditing. They review clients’ financial statements and inform authorities, investors, and regulators that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported with no material misstatements.
Public accountants have a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks. Their clients include corporations, governments, individuals, and nonprofits.
Public accountants work with financial documents that clients are required by law to disclose, such as tax forms and financial statements that corporations must provide to current and potential investors. Some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, advising corporations about the tax advantages of certain business decisions or preparing individual income tax returns.
Information technology (IT) auditors review controls for their organization’s IT systems to ensure that both financial and nonfinancial data come from a reliable source.
Internal auditors have duties that are similar to external auditors, but these workers are employed by the organization they are auditing. They identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste, fraud, and other financial risks to the organization. The practice of internal auditing is not regulated, but the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) provides generally accepted standards.
6. Some Public Accountants and Auditors are Crimefighters
Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and potentially criminal financial transactions.
Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
Still others work with individuals, advising them on important personal financial matters. These public accountants combine their expertise in data management, economics, financial planning, and tax law to develop strategies for their clients. Advisory services cover topics including cash flow, insurance, investment, retirement, and wealth transfer planning to help clients meet financial goals, such as retirement, paying for a child’s education, or buying a home.
Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Publicly traded companies are required to have CPAs sign documents they submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including annual and quarterly reports.
7. Accountants and Auditors Held About 1.4 Million Jobs in 2019.
The largest employers of accountants and auditors were:
|Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services||24%|
|Finance and insurance||9|
|Management of companies and enterprises||7|
8. Most Accountants and Auditors Work in Offices, but Some Work From Home.
Although accountants and auditors usually work in teams, some work alone. Accountants and auditors may travel to their clients’ places of business. Most accountants and auditors work full time. Longer periods of work are typical at certain times of the year, such as for quarterly audits or during tax season.
9. There are Many Jobs Similar to Accountants
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations and check financial records for accuracy.
Budget analysts help public and private organizations plan their finances.
Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.
Management analysts recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.
Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their finances and plan for their financial future.
Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of the government.
Top executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.
10. You’ll Need a Bachelor Degree, Maybe a Master’s to Be an Accountant or Auditor
Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Some universities and colleges offer specialized programs for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, such as in accounting, forensic accounting, internal auditing, or tax accounting. In some cases, those with an associate’s degree, as well as bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, may get junior accounting positions and advance by showing their accounting skills on the job.
For more information about the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), and other designations, visit
For information about the Government Financial Manager certification, visit
For more information about management accounting and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation, visit
For more information about internal auditing and the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation, visit
For more information about information systems auditing and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation, visit
For more information about certifications in accounting, visit
Global Academy of Finance and Management
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm (visited ).