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Perks of being an accountant

By Jennifer Balwin
On February 25, 2010

Many people believe accountants are individuals who sit in a cubicle and are chained to a desk all day. Or accounts are perceived as geeky people who must have a thorough passion for math in order to enjoy their careers.

In the past four years of my college career, one of the many things that I have learned is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having a degree in accounting has the opportunity to open a vast number of doors to the future. “According to the National Association of Colleges and Employer’s 2008 job outlook survey, accounting is the number one bachelor’s degree in demand by employers.” Not only will you be in high demand with a degree in accounting, but you will also have the ability to work in almost any field that you choose. Accounting has always been known as the language of business, and knowing the language makes you a valuable resource to any company.

So where can you get a job with a degree in accounting? This question is not so easy to answer in just one sentence. You can become a public accountant, who provides auditing, tax and consulting services to businesses. Typically you would specialize in one of those areas once you choose to work in the public sector. Public accountants can either work for a firm or for themselves. If public accounting doesn’t interest you, there is always the option of going into private accounting. With this, you would work for one company only. This would give you the opportunity to prepare budgets and financial information for the particular company that you work for.

Another area of accounting that you could work for would be governmental accounting. In this specialization, you would monitor the distribution of funds.

If you are more of an adrenaline junkie, you might be interested in forensic accounting. These accountants are given assignments that arise from stolen funds that must be recovered or litigation suits. After three years of experience in accounting, you can also apply to work as a forensic accountant with the FBI. These accountants are actually put through training and licensed to carry a gun.

Depending on which area of accounting you enter into, you could either work regular days at the office or travel to different companies to work on their audits. Travel depends on the size of the firm you work for and how far away your clients span. This could range anywhere from two miles down the road all the way to some remote location around the world.

If you hope to some day open your own business, a degree in accounting could go a long way. It will give you knowledge on how to prepare your budgets, make informed business decisions and save you money since you won’t have to hire someone to do the payroll or bookkeeping tasks. Anything from opening your own business to working for an international company that allows you to travel the globe, a degree in accounting can get you there.

Accountants also have the privilege of working with people on a daily basis. This can be for both positive and negative exchanges of information. Think about it; if you are doing a company’s taxes and you’ve just discovered that a particular business owes a lot more in taxes than what they had planned, you’re going to have to be able to explain to some very important people why this has happened. You are also often the go-to person when your CEO (internal accounting) or clients (public accounting) need answers on financial information. Excellent communication skills are a must.

If by chance you aren’t sure what you want to declare as your major, look up some information on accounting. You might be surprised with how many directions you can go with a bachelors degree in this field. Although it may be a challenging and difficult road, the rewards will pay off in the end. With the economy the way it is right now, I think everyone would be satisfied with just having a job. And with a degree in accounting, your chances of obtaining a career are quite promising.

— Jennifer Baldwin is an IC Columnist and senior majoring in accounting.

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