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Career Profile: Accountant

Why Is Accounting a Job of Tomorrow?
As businesses large and small continue to grow, accountants will be needed more than ever to ensure that operations are being run efficiently without financial loss and with a healthy profit margin to help foster prosperity for years to come. Even for nonprofit organizations, accountants must make sure the groups break even, or else they face the risk of going into debt and shuttering. Employment opportunities for accountants are expected to increase 18 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does an Accountant Do?
Accountants are responsible for a business' finances, watching out for loss and debt. Accountants also may look for ways to increase profits by examining where money can be saved or costs can be cut without affecting the overall quality and integrity of the business' goods and services. They take care of public records and taxes as well, keeping the business in accordance with federal and state guidelines. There are four major fields in accounting that prospective accountants may enter: public, management, government accounting and internal auditing. Public accountants provide the broad services to general clients. They handle consultation, auditing and taxes for individuals, nonprofit organizations and businesses. Management accountants work specifically with one company that employs them in-house. They deal with budgets, performance evaluation, and the management of costs and assets. Government accountants work with government agencies, reviewing their records and regulations. Internal auditors work in-house with an organization and remedy incidents of mismanagement, waste and fraud.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Accountant?
Accountants must have a bachelor's degree in business, accounting or a related field. A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete, and courses cover business administration tactics, mathematics, finances and other related topics. Most major companies prefer accountants who have completed a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting, which would take an additional two to three years to earn after obtaining a bachelor's degree. Accountants may become certified public accountants to increase their marketability, which in some states requires additional course work beyond a bachelor's degree. Specific requirements for certification vary by state.