The choice of one’s career path is partially determined before one joins college or other institutions of higher learning. I am no exception to this, as I knew the career path that I wanted to pursue before I went to college. Imagine that you own a firm that needed attestation ad assurance services, share and debt issuings, mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings. Which professional will you call upon? Imagine you require services like tax planning and preparation, estate planning, financial analysis, financial accounting, financial reporting, venture capital, management consulting, income tax and performance management. Which professional will you call upon? The answer to this recurring question is very simple. You will need the services of a certified public accountant. This is the career path that I chose to pursue a long time before I even joined college.
Currently, I am an undergraduate student at Syracuse University where my major is accounting. In a few short years, I will finish all the required examinations and become a licensee of a certified public accountant professional body. My interest in accounting has been long standing during to the influence of key people in my life. As such, I have been exposed to information concerning the field since I was a small child. Additionally, there has been a series of financial crises in the country in the recent past. This has caused the realization of the crucial role of a certified public accountant in the society. Everything has been commercialized nowadays, such that there is very little, if any that you can get without money. Money is the one thing that everyone is looking to get. A certified public accountant offers diverse services that are needed at the highest level by corporate and governments and at individual levels by the working populace.
The Job of a Certified Public Accountant
According to Belverd, Powers, and Susan (14), a certified public accountant has a host of services that he is required to perform in his capacity as a certified public accountant. One of the primary responsibilities of a certified public accountant includes auditing and maintaining the financial records of an institution. This requires him to perform all the duties related to preparation of audits, book keeping, tax preparation and financial preparation. This responsibility also requires the professional to check accounts for misinformation, errors, overspending and fraud. A certified public accountant is also required to recommend methods that are fiscally advantageous to the institution in order to save money (Belverd, Powers, and Susan 56). Another responsibility of a certified public accountant has to do with the tax requirements of an institution. This professional is required to analyze financial information in order to make sure that the tax burden of the institution is met in time. In this regard, it is the duty of this professional to offer advice in the tax ramifications of different business decisions and how such ramifications can be managed. Another typical job of a certified public accountant is in budget development and preparation.
In this regard, the professional is required to forecast revenue by analyzing the ledgers and other financial documents, pinpoint and investigate any inconsistencies in the revenue projections and financial reporting in the financial documents (Jui & Wong 17). He is also responsible for creating and analyzing the budgets for every fiscal year for the institution. Analysis of budgets in performed in to order to note anomalies and prevent fraud. As a participant in the budget development process, it is the responsibility of the certified public accountant to sit in strategic planning committees. As a consultant, Albrecht (22) argues that a certified public accountant offers cervices in asset planning and management and management of compensation benefits. This job is alluring for a person who has interests in financial management. Such a person is required to hone skills in mathematics as a core requirement. This is because a certified public accountant works with a lot of numbers during analysis.
Training Requirements and Placement for a Certified Public Accountant
A lot is required of a certified public accountant in terms of education and training. One is required to go through four years of college in order to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Over and above this basic requirement, one is required to put in an additional year. In the United States of America, one has to sit and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination so as to become a certified public accountant. Although this examination is overseen by the National Association of State Board of Accountancy, it is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. While this is the general requirement, the states have the final say on who is eligible to sit for the Certified Public Accountants examination through the states boards of accountancy (Albrecht 23). Irrespective of the fact that the exam is uniform, certification and licensing requirements vary from one state to another. The requirements for the state boards of accountancy also incorporate experience in addition to the education and examination. Some states use the two tier system where an individual is certified after sitting and passing the exam, and licensed later after meeting the work experience requirements. Such states include Illinois, Alabama, Nebraska and Florida. Other states use the one tier system where one is certified and licensed after all the academic and work experience requirements are met. Apart from this, some states require applicants for certified public accountants status to take special tests on ethics. This is the fifth exam that one is required to sit in order to get certification as a public accountant (Bundy & Norris 65). Finally, certified public accountants are required to undertake educational courses on a continual basis so as to renew their licenses. This is called continuing professional education. Most states require about forty hours of continuous professional education each year and minimum of twenty hours.
Remuneration and Future opportunities
The remuneration for certified public accountants is very attractive. However, it is important to note that remuneration varies with work experience. This is because of the increased continues professional education, certification and licensing that comes with increased work experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified public accountants made an average annual salary of 71,040 dollars in 2012, a figure that translated to an hourly rate of 34.15 dollars. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the bottom ten percent of the certified public accountants profession made 39,930 dollars annually while the top ten percent made over 111,510 dollars annually. Those certified public accountants working in the state governments earned considerably less money (55,850 dollars) compared to those who worked in the commodity and securities exchange who made 96,260 dollars annually. Some of the states that pay the most to certified public accountants include the District of Columbia and New York. Certified public accountants are paid and annual average of 87,370 and 85,140 dollars, as highlighted by the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Future opportunities in the field of accounting are beaming. According to Bundy & Norris (25), there is a general growth in a field that was previously dominated by males. The growth is sanctioned by the constraints in the job market where the hiring trends if employers are no longer influenced by time but by the strengths of the prospective candidates. Due to this, there has been an influx of women into the profession. This change in trends means that employers in the field are embracing fairness and the principle of equal opportunities.
Significance of Accounting on National, Political and Social Scenes
The importance of accounting in the contemporary world is undisputed. More precisely, all professionals need some background in accounting at one point in the execution of their duties. Business people need accounting skills in order to evaluate the success of their businesses. In agreement with Belverd, Powers, and Susan (25), organizational executives need accounting background to vet the accuracy and integrity of managerial decisions. Basically, accounting skills are needed by all professionals. On a bigger scale, the significance of accounting on a national scale has been very apparent since the WorldCom and Enron crisis. Arthur Anderson, independent auditors failed to report inconsistencies in the financial reporting in Enron. The effect of the Enron scandal had very significant effects both on the society and the economy. People lost their investments because of failures in the accounting process. Since then, there has been more scrutiny in the activity of accountants in order to prevent future scandals. Certified public accountants work in all government departments, agencies, corporate organizations and private companies. Their services traverse all financial activities, and as such, the profession helps keep these institutions running. The multifaceted role of these professionals means that certified public accountants are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the public interest, a concept that Jui & Wong (17) explore widely in their article.
Accounting as the Best Profession
My interest in accounting as a profession stemmed from mentorship from my mother. I grew up in a small town where I watched my mother develop professionally to become the one of the senior most people in the Finance and Taxation Bureau of our local town. She loved her job, and talked very highly of certified public accountants. In elementary school, I was very good with numbers and I honed analytical skills as I progressed on with school. One might argue that my interest in accounting is not real, that it is influenced by my adoration of my mother. While this is true to some extent, as I progressed in my academic pursuits, I realized from my rich social network that qualitative skills were lacking in the accounting profession. Overreliance on quantitative analysis gives tunnel vision and as such someone might miss important pointers, a concept that Albrecht (56) outlines. It is my opinion that the realization if this speaks positively of the legitimacy of my interest in accounting. Additionally, the Enron Scandal early in the last decade made me realize the important role that accounting plays. As an accounting major, the accounting skills that I will acquire at the end of my course are very vital to me both on a professional and individual level. Accounting skills are required in our everyday lives. People need to scrutinize their financial statements before they make any decisions regarding investments. Assessment of interest rates is also required in the many payments people have to make, like mortgages and car repayments (Jackling & De Lange 98). With accounting skills, I can help very many people in my local town just like my mother does.
Albrecht, W S. Accounting, Concepts & Applications. Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South-Western, 2007. Print.
Bundy, Paul & Norris, Daniel. What Accounting Students Consider Important In The Job Selection Process. Journal Of Applied Business Research. 8, 2: 1992. Print.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available at http://www.bls.gov/.
Jackling, Beverley De Lange, Paul. Do Accounting Graduates’ Skills Meet The Expectations of Employers? A Matter of Convergence or Divergence. Accounting Education: An International Journal. 18, 4-5, 2009. Print.
Jui, Len & Wong Jessie. Roles and Importance of Professional Accountants in Business. International Federation of accountants. 2013. Print.
Needles, Belverd E, Marian Powers, and Susan V. Crosson. Principles of Accounting. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.