Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

What is this job like?

Accountants and auditors keep track of a company's money. The company's managers and people outside the company read their reports. Managers look at the accountants' reports to see how well their companies are doing. Governments use the reports to tell how much tax a company should pay. Some people read them to decide if they want to do business with the company. Others use them to decide if they want to lend money to the company or not.

There are four kinds of accountants.

  • Public accountants work for public accounting companies. They do accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting work. Some have their own businesses. They do many different kinds of accounting for people outside the company.
  • Management accountants keep track of the money spent and made by the companies for which they work.
  • Internal auditors make sure that a company's accounting records are right. They check the records to see that no one in the company is stealing. They also check to see that no one in the company is wasting the company's money.
  • Government accountants and auditors make sure that government accounting records are right. They also check the records of people doing business with the government.

Accountants and auditors work in offices. They generally work a standard 40-hour week, but some work 50 hours a week or more. Tax accountants often work long hours during the tax season, from January to April. Accountants working for the government and public companies travel to audit other companies or branches of their own company.

How do you get ready?

Most accountants have a college degree in accounting. Public accountants have to take a special test as well, resulting in a certification. Public accountants also must have a special license from the State in which they live. Some employers want accountants who have a master's degree in business or accounting. Most employers want accountants who know quite a bit about computers. Previous experience in a summer or part-time internship is also a plus.

People who want to be accountants should be good at math, and have good analytical skills. They also should be able to write well, so that they can tell others about their findings.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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