"I WANT TO BE AN ACCOUNTANT WHEN I GROW-UP"
Often our clients and friends ask about accounting as a career. Sometimes they just want to know if we really do count beans, but usually they want to know in order to help counsel a son or daughter who is entering college.
In order to become a Certified Public Account (CPA), you need to finish 120 units (four years) of college, including a required number of accounting classes. You will be required to pass a rigorous two day examination. Only about fifteen percent of the applicants pass the examination on the first sitting.
In addition to college and passing the CPA exam, candidates must also work for a practicing CPA for a minimum of two years, of which a required number of hours must be spent auditing clients' financial statements.
After becoming a CPA, in order to maintain their license, accountants need to complete 80 hours of continuing education every two years.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIVILEGES?
CPA's are the only people who can conduct an independent audit or review of a businesses's financial statement. This is the main difference between a CPA and a layman.
In addition, only CPA's (and public accountants), can call themselves "accountants". CPA's have authority to deal with taxing agencies on behalf or their clients.
WHAT DOES A CPA REALLY DO?
Count beans. - Just kidding.
The first few years in practice it is typical for a staff accountant to perform mostly compliance work. This work includes completing forms, drafting financial statements and performing audits.
After a period of time, accountants find that they take on additional responsibilities including more conceptual issues, such as client tax planning, staff supervision and firm management.
It is the goal of most accountants to be offered a partnership position in the firm. Additional responsibilities of a partner will include promoting the firm in order to attract new clients.
PROFILE OF A GOOD ACCOUNTANT
It is a common misconception that accountants are solely number crunchers and do not require people skills. However, a good accountant can handle the technical issues, but will also be an excellent oral and written communicator. We find that accountants with an outgoing personality can make difficult concepts interesting and understandable to the management of a company. This enables the management to make informed business and tax planning decisions.