Opportunity Awaits in Public Accounting

Are you contemplating going back to school, but don't exactly know what field you want to enter? If you excell at crunching numbers and are intrigued by the inner-workings of businesses, then a public accounting degree may be the answer for you.accountant

Growth in Accounting

Accountant and auditor positions are expected to increase by 22 percent over the next ten years to meet the needs of the growing economy (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). In fact, by 2018, there is expected to be more than 1.6 million accountants and auditors in the US- making this career field a popular and in-demand field.

Role of an Accountant

As an accountant, you'll manage the financial fitness of an organization. You may be responsible for ensuring public records are accurate and taxes are paid correctly and on time. You may even deal with budget analysis, financial and investment planning, information technology consulting, and legal services.

Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a Bachelor's degree. Job candidates who are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) generally have an advantage over candidates who aren't CPAs. It is likely that states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework, which is 30 hours more than the usual four-year Bachelor's degree. 

Whether you want an accounting career in the public, private, or government sector, Accounting degree programs can help you develop the skills necessary to become a practicing accountant. Skills include: 

  • Analytical and creative problem-solving
  • A strong sense of ethics and integrity
  • Client communication methods
  • Industry-specific technological and intellectual proficiency
  • Leadership skills

Many programs offer CPA exam preparation courses that give you the specific knowledge you need to be confident when taking the CPA exam. Other courses you may take in an accounting degree program include:

  • Accounting fraud investigation
  • Advanced federal tax theory
  • Business ethics
  • Government and non-profit accounting
  • International accounting
  • Operations management
  • Risk management

Salary of Accountants

Once you graduate with a degree in accounting and obtain the proper liscenture, you'll be ready to jump into the workforce. If you're wondering what kind of salary you can expect as an accountant, you may be comforted to know that the median salary for accountants and auditors was $59,430 in 2008 according to the BLS. The middle half of practitioners in this field earned between $45,900 and $78,210, and the top 10 percent earned more than $102,380 (BLS, 2010). According to a salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Bachelor's degree candidates in accounting received starting offers averaging $48,993 a year in July 2009.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos001.htm (visited September 13, 2011).