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Accountant

What does an Accountant do?

To be an accountant, you require a love of numbers, a fondness for reading reports, and an eye for details. While some accountants work on their own, the majority are part of a team. Working well with other people is equally important.

The role of an accountant

People who choose accounting as a career should possess the skill set for the following tasks:

  • Monitor the income and expenses of an organization.
  • Prepare profit and loss statements and reports to a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or clients to establish profitability.
  • Analyze and correct reports for discrepancies.
  • Supervise the accounting department.
  • Explain billing procedures or other basic bookkeeping procedures to other staff, if needed.
  • Provide statements and reports to the internal or external auditing team.
  • Comply with federal, state and local tax guidelines.

Accounting education

Initial training can be gained by taking a two-year course in bookkeeping or accounting, but to practise as an accountant, a Bachelor’s degree is required. This degree can be in arts or science or any other discipline. If you’ve set your sights higher than a mere entry level job, earning a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and auditing is recommended.

Other than training in financial management and tax laws, an accounting degree teaches research skills, problem solving, knowledge of accounting technology and software, and project management.

If you’re looking to get a high paying job, you will have to earn a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. In 45 States, 150 semester hours are required after earning a Bachelor’s degree in order to apply for certification. With this certification you’ll have a distinct advantage in securing management jobs.

Job prospects

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects an increase of 22 percent in accounting and auditor positions. The best paying markets are identified as:

  • Tax preparation
  • Payroll services
  • Government (state and local)

Contrary to popular belief, not all accountants are geeks or nerds. Intelligence balanced with social skills allows many accountants to become partners in firms or executives such as a CFO or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

actuary

What does an Actuary do?

In a world in which risk and uncertainty are present in all aspects of human life, an actuary is a skilled professional who has been trained in the assessment of those elements to determine their financial impact. Actuaries use their mathematical skills to evaluate the likelihood of certain events, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, then go on to tally the possible outcomes and propose measures to minimize the financial impact associated to them. For example, when a hurricane causes heavy damage to a certain area, an actuary must assess the risk of it happening again over the long term to be able to set prices for property insurance and reserves that will prevent future financial loss.

What sort of training and education will prepare me to become an actuary?

Because of the specialization an actuary needs to be able to accurately assess risk and uncertainty, training is extensive and involves several years. When you are looking to become an actuary, you will need to place your focus on subjects such as calculus, probability and statistics, economics, finance, and business.

While courses in finance, math, economics, or statistics are desirable when you want to become an actuary, many different backgrounds can be helpful, including research and physics. This means you will require at least four years of college prior to becoming an actuary. In some cases, a master’s degree in math or actuarial science are a good choice if your undergraduate studies were in liberal arts or other unrelated subjects.

Once you have finished college and earned your bachelor’s degree, you will have to start taking a series of preliminary exams that will determine whether you have the necessary skills to become an actuary. These exams can take place over a span of 6 to 10 years, but passing the first two is the most important step forward into an actuarial career and will allow you to start out as an actuarial assistant. Eventually, with hard work and good skills, you will reach your goal of becoming an actuary and reap the benefits of what has been deemed as one of the most satisfying careers today.

What does an Auditor do?

As an auditor, you will assess and verify the accuracy of an organization’s or government’s internal records. Through this line of work, you will search for fraud, waste, or misconduct. The extent of this assessment can vary depending on the specific job, but it may include evaluating a financial system, management protocol, and the company policies that are being used to protect against waste or fraud. An addition to an overall assessment, an auditor may also work to ensure that taxes are paid, and that financial records are accurately kept. A company can succeed or fail depending on the auditor that they hire, and being an auditor can be quite a rewarding experience as you work to make a difference in each and every company that you work with.

auditor

What sort of training and education will prepare me to become an auditor?

The best and most logical first step towards becoming an auditor is to earn a business degree. While it is possible to become an auditor with a bachelor’s degree, you will likely require an additional year of education relating to auditing such as advanced financial accounting. After this additional year of schooling, you will likely find that it is easier to just take the extra step to obtain a Masters in Business Administration.

In addition to your education, you will also need to take and pass the CPA exam in order to become an auditor. The CPA exam consists of a wide-variety of test questions related to accounting and provides all sorts of simulations that allow you to demonstrate your expertise. Through this exam, you will display your knowledge in auditing, business transactions, financial accounting, and federal taxation. Upon passing this exam, you will obtain your license which will allow you to begin to work as an auditor.