Accounting Jobs and Opportunities
Introduction to Accounting Jobs and Opportunities
There exists today a wide range of job opportunities in the field of accounting. Entry-level jobs are dependent on the extent of your education. Positions of bookkeeper and accounting clerk, for example, require a high school diploma and perhaps a two-year associate degree in accounting. The position of accountant demands that you have a more thorough understanding of financial concepts and so requires a minimum of a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting. According to experts, a home-based accounting, bookkeeping and tax service is considered the best type of home-based business.
What is a Bookkeeper?
A bookkeeper performs the everyday accounting-related tasks of recording financial transactions for
businesses. Using database and spreadsheet programs, a bookkeeper records all the money flowing in and out a
A bookkeeper may also prepare payroll, issue checks and invoices and create reports on taxes, expenditures, profit and loss and cash flow. In large firms a bookkeeper may specialize in areas like accounts receivable or auditing. Small business bookkeepers are usually generalists who handle many tasks.
The salary range reflects differences in job responsibilities, the size and type of employer, and the supply and demand of bookkeepers in a given geographic area.
Unlike an accountant, a bookkeeper does not have special certification. Many are trained on the job, though some college courses in business and accounting are highly desirable.
Bookkeepers may work from home (often in their own home-based, freelance bookkeeping business) or maybe employed in a telecommuting bookkeeping job. More often, though, bookkeepers work in an office setting Some bookkeepers enter the work force with a two-year associate degree in accounting, while others enter with a high school diploma and an expectation that the employer will provide on-the-job training. If you are hired as a bookkeeper, you should assume that you will need some experience (either formal or on-the-job) in the use of accounting software. Bookkeepers are not expected to have a four-year degree in accounting.
Who Hires Bookkeepers?
Bookkeepers are typically employed by companies that may not have the need or the means to employ an on-staff accountant. Such companies hire a bookkeeper to handle a range of routine financial activities, such as payroll, billing, and purchases. Small manufacturers, retail stores, distributors, large law offices, small accounting firms, and not-for-profit entities are examples of such companies. If an accountant is needed, the company typically contracts with an outside accounting firm for the services it needs.
Types of Tasks and Responsibilities
Bookkeepers are detailed-oriented; they are expected to be accurate and efficient with a range of basic financial tasks that are critical to a company's ability to keep accurate financial information. As a bookkeeper, you would be expected to handle large volumes of routine financial transactions in areas such as sales, purchases, and payroll. You may also be expected to generate/handle the documents associated with transactions. For example, a purchase made by a company may include a purchase order, a receiving ticket, the supplier's invoice, and payment to the supplier. A bookkeeper's duties may also include the generation of internal financial documents as well as routine external financial reports. A bookkeeper's work may be reviewed by an accountant or business manager from inside the company, or by an accounting firm contracted by the company.
The increasing affordability of computers and software means that employers will continue to look for bookkeepers who are proficient in accounting/business software. With the advent of new technologies such as software as a service (SaaS, also known as "cloud computing"), small businesses will give preference to hiring bookkeepers who are adaptable to changes in computing systems.
What is an Accounting Clerk?
The range reflects differences in job responsibilities, the size and type of employer, and the supply and demand of accounting clerks in a given geographic area.
Some accounting clerks enter the work force with a two-year associate degree in accounting, while others enter with a high school diploma and an expectation that the employer will provide on-the-job training. Accounting clerks are not expected to have a four-year degree in accounting.
Types of Tasks and Responsibilities
Companies large enough to have one or more accountants on staff are the companies that also hire accounting clerks to assist the accountants with routine tasks. Whereas a bookkeeper is expected to perform a range of basic financial responsibilities, the accounting clerk has a more narrowly focused task, such as a payroll clerk, an accounts payable clerk, an accounts receivable clerk, an inventory clerk, or a cost clerk.
For example, your primary responsibility as an accounts payable clerk at XYZ Company may be to compare the information on each supplier invoice to the information on XYZ's corresponding purchase order and receiving ticket. If the information on these documents is consistent, you process the supplier's invoice for payment. If the information is not consistent, you investigate and resolve the differences before payment can occur.
What is an Accountant?
The range reflects differences in job responsibilities, the size and type of employer, and the supply and demand of accountants in a given geographic area.
Accountants are expected to have a bachelor's degree in accounting from a four-year college or university. Of the 120 semester credits needed for the degree, approximately 30-36 of these credits will be in accounting courses such as financial accounting, cost accounting, income tax, consolidations, auditing, and accounting systems. Also required within the 120 credits are business courses such as organizational behavior, marketing, business statistics, computer systems, business law, economics, and administrative policy.
Who Hires Accountants?
Many companies are large enough and complex enough to require the ongoing expertise of an in-house accountant. As an accountant, you may find yourself working for a manufacturing firm, a hospital, a bank, an insurance company, or a brokerage firm.
Tasks and Responsibilities
Being proficient in matters of finance and accounting is just one dimension of being a successful accountant. Employers know this, and will prefer to hire an accountant who, in addition to demonstrating excellent accounting skills, also possesses the following traits:
- Pays close attention to details, but does not lose sight of how details affect the bigger picture
- Is a problem solver; a strategic thinker
- Has a productive curiosity about business systems (why a company is profitable, how it gets customers, etc.)
- Has good listening skills
- Can communicate complex financial information in a clear, straightforward manner
- Is a good supervisor; works well as a member of a team
Some accountants are generalists, while others prefer to specialize in a given area. For example, if you are hired as a cost accountant (or cost accounting manager) for a manufacturing company, you might supervise several cost clerks who work with you to calculate the costs of products manufactured, prepare cost estimates for potential sales of new products, and monitor the cost of raw materials, labor, and overhead.
Or, you might be responsible for analyzing a large corporation's general ledger account balances and preparing financial statements that comply with generally accepted accounting principles. As such, you would supervise accounts payable clerks and payroll clerks. For this type of accounting, your title might be general ledger accountant, chief accountant, corporate accountant, accounting manager, or corporate controller.
The larger and more complex a company is, the more numerous and varied will be the accountants that are on the staff, with titles such as internal auditor, coordinator of profit plans and budgets, researcher of accounting and tax issues, financial analyst, or tax accountant.
As the world becomes more interconnected via global systems and international commerce, the need increases for accountants to be knowledgeable in international accounting standards as well as new technologies that assist management in making decisions. In short, accountants will need to be life-long learners who work closely with people in such fields as marketing, production, information technology, and e-commerce.
Start a Bookkeeping Business
According to experts, a home-based accounting, bookkeeping and tax service is considered the best type of home-based business. We have all heard the phrase, "there are two things in life that are certain, death and taxes." But think for a moment, even the dead pay taxes.
Not only do all businesses need accounting for tax purposes, but every company must manage accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll, to name just a few. It is the responsibility of the accountants to tell if a business is generating profit, also known as being "in the BLACK."
You can start your own bookkeeping business with little more than a table for your computer and some good
training. You don't need to rent a store-front business. You don't even have to leave your present job. You
can work part-time until you have sufficient income to tell your boss good-bye.
With so many people looking for business ideas for home, why not start a business of your own to do light accounting and provide bookeeping services for those entrepreneurs? Bookkeepers keep financial records and are proficient in single-entry ledger work for small businesses. Bookkeeping services clients provide their receipts and invoices for bookkeepers to post on paper or in a computer file. Many self-employed bookkeepers earn between $25 and $40 and hour, but that can vary with location and work load. Some bookkeepers offer services that are related to bookkeeping services, like tax preparation, increasing their earnings potential. And some bookkeepers might take on bigger clients, which might mean having to prepare more sophisticated financial reports.
Pros of a Bookkeeping Services Home Business
- Many entrepreneurs aren't good at handling their money - that's where you come in.
- It's a welcoming profession because by handling the bookkeeping you are relieving a client of perceived drudgery.
- Bookkeeping services can be a true at-home business.
Cons of a Bookkeeping Services Home Business
- The occasional slippery client may ask bookkeepers to omit certain transactions that come to your attention. You will not last long in the bookkeeping business if you skirt the law, experts say.
- Family demands at home could be distracting.
What You Need to Get Started in a Bookkeeping Services Home Business
- A love of numbers, meticulousness and honesty along with basic bookkeeping practices.
- Ability to network and drum up business.
- Membership with your local chamber of commerce - highly recommended as a source for new business and for projecting a professional reputation.
- Business cards and a website, along with testimonials and references from satisfied customers (you can't show a portfolio of your ledger work)
- A computer with the necessary spreadsheet and accounting software to handle the tasks you want to offer.