Accounting careers tend to attract individuals who have an aptitude for mathematics and are analytical in order to be able to analyze and interpret financial data. Long hours may be required, especially during financial reporting or tax preparation time. Finally, there is a high standard of integrity associated with accounting and auditing positions due to the nature of the work.
Accounting Careers List
- Accountants and Auditors
- Bank Examiners
- Billing Clerks
- Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerks
- Credit Analysts
- Financial Analysts
- Financial Institution Tellers and Clerks
- Financial Institution Officers and Managers
- Financial Services Brokers
- Forensic Accountants and Auditors
- Tax Preparers
Accounting career information for each career path listed above can be found in full detail. Chose the accounting career you are most interested in, follow the link to the detailed career information, learn what it entails, what education you may need and the salary you can potentially earn.
The accounting careers in the United States dates back to the 1880s, when English and Scottish investors began buying stock in American companies. Needing experts to keep an eye on their investments, they sent over accountants. Many of these accountants stayed on to establish their own accounting businesses.
In order to establish standardization and identification of qualified public accountants, the certified public accountant (CPA) examination was developed in 1917. The Uniform CPA Exam measures professional competence and earning the CPA certificate is evidence of professional qualification. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants grades and prepares the nationally recognized four-part CPA examination, which is administered by the state boards of accountancy.
Until the 1980s, eight large, conservative, and stable firms known as the Big Eight dominated the industry. Accounting jobs tended to be predictable and dependable. But that changed as accounting firms became “lean and mean,” consolidating and diversifying to become more competitive. Some, like Arthur Andersen, added new services such as management and computer consulting. Others bought out rival companies. The Big Eight was reduced to the Big Six as companies were hit by the recession and the savings and loan crisis.
In 1998, the Big Six became the Big Five with the merger of two of the industry’s powerhouses. To better compete in the global marketplace, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand joined to form PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2002, the Big Five became the Big Four as a result of Arthur Andersen’s indictment for obstruction of justice for its role in the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, which defrauded investors and energy consumers on a massive scale. Today, the four largest firms are Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (now doing business as Deloitte), Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In response to this recent financial crisis, the federal government passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. This law requires higher levels of financial accounting and disclosure from all publicly held companies.