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common accounting concepts Accountants compile, analyze, and prepare financial records for many different business sectors.  Public accountants work independently or as part of a firm handling the financial matters of businesses or individuals, while private accountants deal with the financial records of the company they work within.  Government accountants may work within government agencies or handle auditing of private companies.

There are several areas that accountants can specialize in within these sectors.  General accountants maintain financial records, balance books, and analyze statements to assist administrative officers in decision making, while budget accountants review department expenditures.  Property accountants keep property records and prepare mortgage schedules and payments.  Systems accountants set up personalized systems for organizations in need of non-standard accounting procedures. Tax accountants prepare federal, state, and local tax returns for individuals or businesses, while auditors ensure the accuracy of financial records.

After high school, training can be pursued through business schools, junior colleges, or universities, but a bachelor's degree with a major in accounting or economics is required before taking a licensing exam in all states.  A master's degree in accounting can also be obtained, and is preferred by large public accounting firms.  Certified public accountants (CPAs) must pass a state licensing examination in the state in which they wish to practice.

In addition to the above educational requirements, those wishing to pursue a career in accounting should be proficient in arithmetic and basic algebra, have familiarity with spreadsheet software and accounting-related computer applications, and possess effective oral and written communication and attention to detail.  Advancement can often be rapid for talented accountants and auditors and employment for accounting positions in all sectors is expected to grow during the next few years.  For more information about education and employment for accountants, please visit the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

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About Accountants