Career Profile: Public Accountant

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What is a Public Accountant?

A public accountant is better known as a CPA because anyone that wants to work as a public accountant is required to go through the certification process. Public accountants are certified to provide accounting services directly to the public, or to businesses that don’t have an accountant as part of their existing staff. Most of what a CPA does is considered an assurance service, such as financial auditing and the analysis of other financial data. The purpose of a CPA is to advise clients to make smarter financial decisions, help with bookkeeping, and to file taxes. However, CPAs can fulfill many other functions, like planning an estate, helping with an individual’s income taxes, or forensic accounting. Public accountants usually work as part of a firm, but after building a client base, it is entirely possible to have your own office or work as an independent contractor in this field. The laws are different from state to state, but everyone who wants to work in this career must pass that Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.

Public Accountant Responsibilities

As a public accountant, you would be responsible for maintaining and auditing the financial records of your clients, including bank statements, receipts, and similar data or documents. You would be responsible for helping your clients to create a working budget for themselves and providing them with guidance in the areas of investing, estate planning, and more. You would be responsible for informing your clients about how their financial activity would affect their taxes. You would also have to create forecasts and analyze data to make sure that monetary goals were being met by your clients. You would also be tasked with providing input on fraud prevention and overseeing accounts payable and receivable. If you worked for a corporation, you would assist with bookkeeping as well as making financial projections. If those predictions weren’t favorable, and sometimes if they aren’t ideal, you would help your client come up with a plan to either cut spending or find a way to make more efficient use of the money being spent to keep their organization profitable.

Public Accountant Salary Information

The average salary for a public accountant or CPA is $62,410 per year. Some of them have an annual income as low as $45,781, but some make over $100,000. Working in this job, you may be eligible for bonuses, profit sharing, and commission. The highest total pay as reported by Payscale when all of those factors are taken into consideration is over $110,000 a year! Knowledge tax laws and experience with tax consulting can help boost income, along with experience.

Public Accountant Qualifications

Each state is going to have its own licensure requirements; however, some of these requirements are standardized. Each person that wants to work as a public accountant or CPA must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, they also must have at least a Bachelors degree in Accounting, and some work experience through an internship or related job.

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