A CPA or certified public accountant is a respected accounting professional who has passed the CPA exam and fulfilled the minimum education and work experience requirements. Consequently, this makes him or her qualified to perform almost any tax, audit, finance, and accountancy service.
Ultimately, this is why CPA certification is so valued and respected. It prepares accountants for just about any duty or responsibility in the business and financial planning world.
Part math whiz, part detective: the world of an accountant can be a varied and interesting one. Basically, since they’re so versatile, accountants and CPAs can to just about anything in the finance and business world.
Here’s a list of the most common duties that CPAs perform and tasks accountants do:
- Prepare income tax returns
- Perform bookkeeping functions
- Prepare financial statements
- Audit financial records
- Analyze performance reports
- Manage and advice companies
What are the Duties of a CPA and an Accountants?
While there are several different types of accountants, they generally fall into four broad groups:
- Public accountants
- Management accountants
- Government accountants
- Internal auditors
Each of these accountants performs different tasks and has different responsibilities in his or her own respected industry. Let’s look at the CPA job description for each accounting profession.
• Public accounting is the broadest field in accounting. Public accountants include bookkeepers, consultants, tax advisors, auditors, and forensic accountants, who investigate and analyze criminal activities such as fraud or embezzlement.
• Management accountants analyze financial data for companies, and are directly involved in the way companies plan, budget and maximize expenditures. Additionally, management accountants are often responsible for drafting reports that are only seen internally by company management.
• Government accountants are public accountants who work for government agencies or businesses that are subject to governmental regulations. Similar to forensic accountants, Government accountants and auditors are financial watchdogs in many cases. Typically, many of them work for the Internal Revenue Service enforcing tax laws.
• Internal Auditors are employed by organizations to analyze their company’s business activities, concentrating on the detection of internal inefficiencies, fraud, and other criminal activities. Internal auditors advise the executive team on how to better operate the company, and even on how to more efficiently utilize information technology.
Where do CPAs and Accountants work?
Accountants and CPAs are employed by private companies, public companies, government agencies, nonprofits, and accounting firms. Hence, this is why the accounting field has so many career opportunities in it. Essentially, every business, entity, government agency, and organization needs an accountant.
Therefore, if you were thinking the only career path you have as a CPA is to work for a public accounting firm, you need to look around at the other options. Keep in mind, just because you start your current career at a public accounting firm out of college doesn’t mean you have to work very your entire career.
Typically, most accountants end up leaving public accounting within five years and join the private sector working for a company or nonprofit.
If becoming a CPA sounds interesting to you, there a few things that you should consider. Let’s look at each one of them.
What role of the CPA do you want for your career?
Obviously, there are a ton of different career opportunities for CPAs and accountants. Fortunately, the good thing is that you don’t have to choose one. Many accounting jobs or CPA duties overlap from one career to the next. Ultimately, this is great because it means you won’t be stuck in one career path your entire career. You’ll be qualified for many different things can change at almost anytime.
To determine what type of accountant you should be, ask yourself what type of career path you’d like to tread.
Ask Yourself These Questions
If you’d prefer to deal with a variety of work environments and situations, public accounting may be right for you.
However, if you’d rather stay within one company for a longer period of time, management accounting or internal auditing might be the way to go.
Alternatively, if you’re a highly ethical individual who relishes the chance to investigate business practices, forensic accounting, government accounting or internal auditing could all be great choices.
Furthermore, which classes you thrive in and enjoy the most during your accounting education could have quite a bit to do with which road you choose, too!
If you’re still unsure as to what you want to do, here is a full list of accounting certifications. Check them out and see which one interests you the most.