What Do Accountants Do?

An accountant is one who practices the business of accounting. Accounting is a major business around the world, with thousands upon thousands of accountants working in both the public and private sector. While most accountants work in the realm of commerce and industry, the Big Four audit firms - Pricewaterhousecoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG - employ upwards of 600,000 accountants and are responsible for a combined $100 billion in revenue.



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Accountants perform a variety of tasks that are dependent on the type of accounting services they provide. As such, “accounting” can be considered an umbrella term for a wide variety of practices. These can include bookkeeping, which is the recording of financial transactions; auditing, which is a review of the accounting practices and finances of a company or individual; management accounting, which deals with the providing of financial information to managers to help inform decisions; and financial accounting, which deals with the providing of financial statements to “decision makers,” such as banks, lenders, stockholders, suppliers, and government agencies. There are, of course, a variety of other, more narrowly defined services provided by accountants, including estate planning, tax preparation, forensic accounting, and venture capital, to name a few.

To become an accountant, one must become certified. To do this, you must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, as well as have the necessary educational and professional background. Beyond this, there are other tiers of qualifications, such as “Licensed Public Accountant” and simply “Public Accountant.” Several schools also offer Associate’s Degrees or Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, often as a subset of Business School, though to become a CPA, one must have a Bachelor’s Degree, as well as an additional year of schooling.

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Posted on May 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM