A degree in accounting prepares you for occupations involving work with financial records. The top priority for accountants is making sure that financial records are accurate. Accountants work in all sectors of the economy – private businesses, non-profits and the government. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry into this occupation, and certification in a specific field of accounting (such as becoming a Certified Public Accountant) can improve your chances of obtaining a job.

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Course Topics

Accounting degree courses are usually mixed in with management, marketing and other business subjects. This helps make graduates more flexible and provides them with the knowledge needed to adapt in an ever changing business world. Students can expect to take some variation of courses that include:

  • Business ethics
  • Business organizations
  • Business communication
  • Finance
  • Marketing basics
  • Cost accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Taxes
  • Financial planning
  • Payroll accounting

Job Duties for Accountants

Accountants typically work in four careers: public accountant, management accountant, government accountant and internal auditor.

Public accountants – handle accounting for financial statements, audits and taxes. Their clients can include government, corporations and individuals. Many in this area become certified public accountants and open their own business. Work can vary depending on the client, but typically includes financial reports and balance sheets for corporations, tax filings for businesses and individuals and external audits aimed at reviewing a client’s financial statements.

Management accountants – also known as cost, managerial, industrial, corporate or private accountants – handle financial information, usually for businesses. They typically work with crafting budgets and spending plans. They also can work in asset management, which involves helping clients select stocks, bonds and real estate investments.

Government accountants work with the financial records for government agencies and may also audit individuals and businesses for compliance with tax laws (working for the Internal Revenue Service, for example).

Internal auditors work for both private and public entities, checking for mismanagement of money and searching for ways to eliminate waste and fraud.

Job Outlook in the Field of Accounting

The number of jobs for accountants is expected to grow by about 16% by 2020, a rate that is on par with the average growth expected in all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The federal agency reports that the growth is partially driven by corporate scandals and the recent financial crisis, which have led to the need for more accountants.

Tighter regulation of lending standards will likely also lead to the hiring of more accountants and auditors. Also, globalization of business continues to result in more opportunities for accountants to work for international corporations.