It would be a mild understatement to say that accountants love working with numbers.

Accountants spend the majority of their time working with numbers, either by studying and interpreting them or by explaining them to others. The preparation and examination of financial records, ensuring financial records are accurate and that taxes and fees are paid on time are the most important tasks for an accountant.

Accountants can work with individual clients, small businesses or large corporations, as well as with local, state and federal government agencies.
Required Education

While associate degrees in accounting are offered, they generally are considered a stepping-stone toward a higher-level degree in the field.

There are a few accounting-related positions available to those who possess only an associate degree. They include accounting assistant, billing clerk, bookkeeper, payroll clerk and accounts receivable clerk. These are considered entry-level jobs and therefore do not offer lucrative annual salaries.

Those who possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting will have a larger pool of jobs available to them, including auditor, comptroller and financial planner.

In addition to seeking a formal education, those who wish to become certified public accountants (CPAs) will be required to pass a licensing exam. In order to sit for the exam, candidates must complete a minimum of 150 hours of higher education, with the exception of these six states: California, Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Graduate and doctorate-level degrees also are available in accounting, both online and in traditional settings. Candidates who pursue a master’s degree in accounting are eligible to work in management positions within the industry. Doctorate degrees generally only are needed if a candidate intends to pursue a career in academia.

Regardless of the level of degree being pursued, prospective students are encouraged to find a program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. Accredited programs are guaranteed to be rigorous and relevant, and credits from them should easily transfer to other accredited institutions of higher learning.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for qualified accountants is expected to increase by 13 percent over the next decade. Bureau analysts predict that as the economy grows and strengthens, so will the need for those trained in the accounting field.

The average annual salary for an accountant with a four-year degree was $63,550 as of May 2012. The lowest 10 percent of wage earners made $29,930 annually and the top 10 percent brought in as much as $111, 510.

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