Accountants and auditors

The work of accountants and auditors is concerned with the financial information of their clients. They thoroughly review financial documents, prepare reports based on their findings, all of which will ensure that the business or client makes smart decisions and pays their taxes accurately.

Within these professions, workers can specialize in a particular focus of accounting or auditing. Accountants may choose to work with a certain category of clients, such as members of the public, corporations, or the government. They may specialize in tax work or train in forensic accounting to investigate and evaluate potentially criminal financial actions.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Preparing reports on the financial status of a client or business
  • Analyzing financial data and information
  • Calculating the taxes and fees owed by the client
  • Offering advice
  • Inspecting files and records to make sure all information is accurate and in accordance with laws and regulations
  • Investigating discrepancies and inaccuracies in a business' financial actions and records
  • Organizing files and information to ensure work is orderly and efficient
  • Advising clients on business decisions based on their financial assets and status


Typically a bachelor's degree in the field is required to work in these professions. Students may benefit from internships that provide real-world experience while getting their education. However, earning an advanced degree is not the sole path towards a career. With an associate's degree and/or additional relevant experience, some workers may qualify for entry-level accounting positions and clerkships; over time they may be promoted to senior positions.

There are a variety of regulations and requirements for these careers. In order to be a Certified Public Accountant and qualify for certain kinds of work, workers must earn a license from their state. The requirements may vary slightly, depending on the state. Usually applications must have sufficient coursework and pass exams to qualify. Additionally, certification can make job applicants more attractive to employers and may qualify them for more positions. Professional organizations offer certification for specializations within these careers.


  • Analytical skills More than just understanding the numbers, accountants and auditors must analyze financial information to understand a business' or client's problem and provide possible solutions.
  • Detail Oriented. These professions require attention to detail, as financial and other information must be exact and accurate.
  • Math skills. Accountants and auditors calculate and analyze data and figures for the clients and customers they work for.
  • Detail oriented. Math is the foundation of design when it comes to architecture and engineering. Professionals frequently use calculus and other math to determine how to design, build, and manage their projects.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to increase over the next several years, at approximately the same rate as the average for all occupations. There is competition for job openings but accountants and auditors with master's degrees or certification may fare better. Overall, these occupations are typically tied to the health and growth of the economy in general, and the better it fares, the more openings become available.
  Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.'

High school diploma or equivalent $35,170
Budget analysts Budget analysts

Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending.'

Bachelor's degree $69,280
Cost estimators Cost estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular industry or type of product.'

Bachelor's degree $58,860
Financial analysts Financial analysts Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.' Bachelor's degree $76,950
Financial managers Financial managers Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.' Bachelor's degree $109,740
Management analysts Management analysts

Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve the efficiency of an organization. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.'

Bachelor's degree $78,600
Personal financial advisors Personal financial advisors Personal financial advisors give financial advice to people. They help with investments, taxes, and insurance decisions.' Bachelor's degree $67,520
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and vocational subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.'

Varies with the subject taught and the type of educational institution $0
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that federal, state, and local governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.'

Bachelor's degree $50,440
Top executives Top executives

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.'

Bachelor's degree $101,650

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