An accountant’s job is to handle the financial matters of the company or client he/she works for. However, this can include a great many different responsibilities, depending on what type of accounting is being performed. There are four major fields in accounting, each with separate responsibilities and specialties. These fields are public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, and internal auditing.
The scope of the work that an accountant in a particular field might perform is often large, but accountants will often have a focus within their field. In other words, each field of accounting will also have sub-concentrations. In general, an accountant is trained in all of the areas relating to his/her particular field even if he/she only performs a particular subset of those tasks.
Public accountants will either work for a public accounting firm or have their own business. They perform tasks such as accounting, auditing, consulting, and tax related duties. They often work for corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. Most public accountants are expected to be licensed and be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). And though this is not a requirement, CPAs are generally more competitive for jobs and higher wages. In order to receive become a CPA, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting or a related business field is needed.
Management accountants are also known as industrial, corporate, or private accountants. They often work for larger companies or corporations with a team of executives involved with strategic planning. A management accountant’s primary responsibility is to record and analyze financial information. This often means interpreting financial information for executives so that they can make informed business choices. Management accountants will also prepare financial reports for stockholders, creditors, tax authorities, and regulatory agencies. Other jobs a management accountant might have include budgeting, cost management, asset management, and performance evaluation. If working within an accounting department, a management accountant may be focused in a particular area such as financial analysis, cost accounting, or planning and budgeting.
A government accountant may work for a state, local, or federal government. A government accountant’s job is to keep records for government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals who are subject to government regulation and taxation. In other words, government accountants are responsible for keeping track of a government agency’s financial matters and make note of businesses that fail to abide by the regulations in place. Federal government accountants may also work as Internal Revenue Service agents, in financial institution examination, financial management, or budget analysis and administration.
Internal auditors analyze and check the accuracy of an organization’s records in search of mismanagement, waste, or fraud. Internal auditing has recently become a more expansive position, with many more accountants seeking employment in the field. Internal auditors can work for a range of companies and organizations and are important for evaluating the finances of these companies. They protect the companies from fraud and other harmful financial practices by checking records and ensuring they are efficient, comply with legal regulations, and contain no errors.
As illustrated above, an accounting job description varies a lot based on which field is concerned. Though good accountants will be trained in a number of areas, they will primarily focus on one specific area of their chosen field.
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