USA Career Guide-Accountants and Auditors

Education needed to be Accountants and Auditors

Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master's degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
If you are a graduate of community colleges or bookkeepers and accounting clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, get junior accounting positions and advance to accountant positions by showing their accounting skills on the job.


Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients.
CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements.


Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:
The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) upon applicants who complete a bachelor's degree.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The
ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems.
For accountants with a CPA, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications.

Pay of Accountants and Auditors

The median annual wage of accountants and auditors was $61,690 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,940 and the top 10 percent earned more than $106,880.

Job Prospects of Accountants and Auditors

Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The continued globalization of business should lead to more demand for accounting expertise and services related to international trade and international mergers and acquisitions.
Accountants and auditors who have earned professional recognition, especially as a Certified Public Accountants (CPA), should have the best prospects. Job applicants who have a master's degree in accounting or a master's degree in business with a concentration in accounting also may have an advantage.

However, competition should be strong for jobs with the most prestigious accounting and business firms.

Industrial Overview Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors held about 1.2 million jobs in 2010.
Most accountants and auditors work in offices, although some work from home. Auditors may travel to their clients’ places of business.

The following industries employed the most accountants and auditors in 2010:
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services 24%
Finance and insurance 8%
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 7%
Manufacturing 6%
Management of companies and enterprises 6 %
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition,

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