A Career in Numbers: All about Accountants

Working With Numbers: The Accounting Profession

Whether serving the public as a CPA or helping a business run efficiently with accurate financial records, an accountant plays a critical role in the world of business and finances. The history of accounting goes back thousands of years and can be traced to ancient civilizations. The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians had early auditing systems and now organizations and governments keep detailed financial information. Nineteenth century Scotland is where we see the origin of the modern profession of the chartered accountant. This time period is when accounting began to transition into an organized profession.

A Career in Numbers: All about Accountants

What Is An Accountant

An accountant can generally be defined as a person who performs any or all accounting functions and procedures, including recording, classifying, interpreting, and reporting the financial condition and performance of an entity. The functions an accountant performs includes audits and financial statement analysis, among many others. An accountant can set up an individual practice, work as part of a large company in an internal accounting department, or be employed with an accounting firm.


An accountant’s educational background varies depending on their professional duties. But in general, accountants have a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and they also must receive certification. Having certification within a specific field improves one’s job prospects. Some employers prefer candidates who have a Master’s degree in Accounting or in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting.

Nature of The Work

Accounts must abide by certain guiding principles and ethical standards of the region where they practice such as GAAP or IFRS. The most common designations in the accounting profession are:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chartered Accountants (CA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Management Accountants (CMA)
  • Public Accountant (PA)
  • Certified General Accountants (CGA)

Accountants can have more than one designation and may perform multiple types of duties. Some common essential duties and responsibilities of an account include:

  • Standard journal entries
  • Payroll reconciliation
  • Analyze banking transactions and journal entries
  • Monitor compliance with GAAP and company procedures


The median annual wage for accountants and auditors is $67,190 (May 2015). This median amount is the amount at which half the earners in this occupation earned more and half earned less. Most accountants work full time, with about 1 in 5 working more than 40 hours per week. At certain times of year, such as tax season, longer hours are typical. Certified public accountants may charge an hourly rate for their services and potential clients will hire accordingly.

Accounting is the backbone of the business financial world. It helps a business maintain, grow and flourish. The services of an accountant can go a long way, beyond simply keeping and assessing records. Working with an accountant and making sure everything is in order in terms of financial records and practices can help avoid an unfavorable situation like a tax audit or having a business that runs inefficiently.