Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to accounting than sitting at a desk processing names and numbers all day long. It requires analytical ability, detective work and communication skills, and involves plenty of teamwork as well as paperwork.
As well as granting skills and qualifications that are in demand wherever in the world one chooses to operate, a career in accounting can also serve as a stepping stone to self-employment and the freedom of running your own business. The process of auditing, whereby accountants inspect the financial records of an organization, grants them an opportunity to obtain an in-depth understanding of how such organizations function, which can then be applied to their own business ventures.
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Careers in Accounting
Accounting is a diverse profession, and the skills of an accountant are invaluable to organizations operating in every industry, whether it be finance, entertainment or the government sector. The methods of an accountant can save companies thousands of dollars worth in expenses, and assist law enforcement agencies in their task of tracking down and apprehending criminals.
So there are a number of fields in which your skills can be of service, should you choose to pursue a career in accounting. Here are a few examples:
The Public Accountant is the most common type of accountant, and the one most frequently employed by businesses in the corporate sector. Their services include tax preparation, auditing and record-keeping, and they also provide advisory services in matters pertaining to the financial well-being of the organization.
In Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is one of the three legally recognized accounting bodies, the other two being the Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA).
Popular series such as CSI and Dexter may have led some to associate the word ‘forensics’ with lab work. But in truth, forensic simply means “suitable for use in a court of law”, and is therefore applicable to any evidence that can be used to incriminate a subject.
Whereas police labs try to obtain such evidence from biological traces like blood and fingerprints, forensic accountants search for the fingerprints in financial records. Perpetrators of large-scale crimes need cash to fund their endeavors, and while they can wear masks to conceal their identity and gloves to hide their prints, it’s a lot harder to cover up a money trail.
Forensic accountants know exactly what to look for, making them invaluable in tracking down the perpetrators of crimes – whether it be minor crimes like fraud, or matters of a more serious nature. Since 9-11, the services of forensic accountants have been instrumental in the efforts to combat terrorism.
Environmental accountants seek to determine the effect that a company’s policies will have on the environment, and how their environmental policies will in turn affect their expenses. This includes factoring in the costs of cleanup and pollution-prevention technologies, and the penalties imposed for high carbon emissions.
By gathering data on an organization’s resource-usage and waste generation, environmental accountants can help them develop more cost-efficient measures that ultimately end up saving thousands of dollars worth in expenses.
For example, Raytheon – an electronics and aerospace company in the United States, was able to save $680,000 a year as a result of scrap reductions brought about by environmental accounting, while Murauer Bier – an Austrian brewery, achieved a 19% reduction in fuel oil use and a 32% reduction in waste water per unit.
Becoming an Accountant
According to Investopedia.com, options include pursuing a degree in accounting, or a diploma followed by a junior position in an accounting firm. Educational institutions such as TafeCourses.com.au offer a number of courses that can help provide the necessary skills and qualifications.