How To Become An Account Officer | The Full Guide

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account officer jobs/accountant/cpa

Many individuals outside the accounting field see account officer jobs as uneventful careers. However, account officer jobs can be one of the most rewarding jobs, whether you choose to work in the private or public sector.

Accounting cuts across many paths and industries, thereby leading to a higher demand for account officers or accountants. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) can work as clerks, auditors, or forensic accountants to investigate financial reports and prepare tax documents.

Additionally, account officers work in finance, insurance, and government. They can also work in large companies, small businesses, or as self-employed professionals. Account officers may also advance to high-level executive jobs depending on their level of work experience, education, and certification.

You may want to consider a career in accounting after getting to know the amount of money they make. In this guide, you will get information on what an account officer does, how to become an accountant and the salary of account officers as well as their job outlook.

Who is an Account Officer?

Account officers, otherwise known as accountants or CPAs are professionals that handle bookkeeping and prepare audits, and finalize the accounts of companies, individuals, and other entities. These professionals prepare a company’s annual report and financial statements. In addition, CPAs give advice on investments, business strategies, and tax laws.

Accountants usually acquire more education and training than bookkeepers hence, making them more qualified.

Small, medium, and large enterprises cannot function and compete favorably in the marketplace without the services of an account officer. This is because an accountant monitors and records a company’s flow of money thereby helping them to know whether they are growing or declining.

In discharging their duties, account officers must be accurate in recording financial transactions to avoid discrepancies. Additionally, they should ensure that all transactions are legal and comply with their country’s financial laws.

What does an Account Officer do?

Account officers prepare and monitor every financial record in a business or organization. They do this by calculating cash flows, expenses, and tax obligations. In addition, a CPA may manage payrolling and billing processes.

Generally, account officers work closely with managers and report to them their companies’ financial status all the time. In most cases, they evaluate financial performance and make recommendations for improvement.

In summary, below are the duties of an account officer or accountant:

  • Preparing and monitoring financial reports.
  • Ensuring that financial reports are accurate and comply with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Preparing tax returns and ensuring timely payment of taxes.
  • Conducting risk analysis assessments.
  • Providing guidance on cost reduction revenue enhancement, and profit maximization.
  • Assessing financial operations to suggest best practices, identifying problems and recommending solutions, and assisting organizations run efficiently.

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What are the types of account officers/accountants?

All account officers work with finances, however, there are different account officers based on their duties. Here are the different types of account officers or accountants:

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are upper-level account officers that oversee all the finances of a business or organization. These professionals perform duties including tax preparation, audits, financial reviews, and litigation services.

CPAs obtain certification through the state by completing specific examinations and licensing requirements. Upon licensure, they can prepare and sign tax returns for individuals and businesses. They can also represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits.

2. Auditor

Auditors are account officers that perform audits and record reviews for an organization or business. In some cases, an organization or business may bring an external auditor to ensure objective auditing.

The major duties of an auditor include evaluating and maintaining financial records, studying account books and records, verifying financial statements, and providing recommendations for financial improvement.

3. Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants are professionals that analyze and ensure the accuracy of financial records. An organization or business may bring in these professionals from outside to check for financial discrepancies, errors, or cases relating to fraud. Many forensic accountants discharge their duties in litigation or investigation support.

4. Management Accountant

Management accountants are accounting professionals that help business owners and managers to make good financial decisions for their businesses or organizations. They prepare business budgets, evaluate profitability, access risks, and prepare external financial reports. In addition, management accountants prepare and communicate the finances of a company in a way that people who are not in the field can easily understand.

5. Government Accountant

Government accountants work in state or federal government to evaluate and implement taxpayer money in the most efficient and possible way. They also help the government to draft a fiscal plan for each year. Additionally, government accountants may work for the IRS where they will be auditing individuals and organizations.

6. Cost Accountant

Cost accountants help a business or organization to improve its processes in order to become more profitable. They also evaluate all costs related to labor, production, shipping, and other day-to-day operations of the business or organization. These details enable the cost accountant to suggest ways in which businesses can improve as well as save more money.

7. Staff Accountant

Staff accountants are part of the staff of an organization or company. Their duties typically involve maintaining the company’s accounts, evaluating & preparing financial statements, reconciling accounts, maintaining payroll, and carrying out other bookkeeping duties.

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How To Become An Account Officer

Most students who wish to enter into the field of accounting usually pursue a bachelor’s degree in a college or university. Afterward, they earn a license to practice.

To get to know how to become an account officer or CPA, follow the steps below:

1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is the standard minimum requirement for entry-level account officer jobs. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree program in accounting, finance, and auditing will give you the foundational knowledge of accounting principles and theories.

During your undergraduate degree, you will take math classes and learn about tax law. You will also take business-related courses including financial record keeping, ethics, statistics, management, personal & business tax, auditing, and international finance.

It will take you about four (4) years of full-time study to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

If you wish to work in the public or private sectors or work in the financial services industry, a bachelor’s degree is your starting point.

2. Take an internship

Gaining work experience after graduation will help build your resume to land account officer/accountant jobs in top companies. Keep in mind that employers like hiring candidates that have worked in an accounting position before.

You can take up internships in companies so as to build your skills and work experience in the field. The good thing about taking an internship is that most accounting firms like Deloitte offer their interns full-time positions after they complete an internship program in their company.

3. Choose a specialty

Most account officers work in a particular field of accounting. Specializing in a specific field leads to efficiency and makes you more valuable to employers. You may decide to work in corporate or public accounting.

Alternatively, you may work in subspecialties including Tax accounting, Business valuation, nonprofit accounting, government finance, auditing, environmental accounting, international accounting, information management & technology assurance, and personal finance accounting

4. Decide between becoming an account officer or a CPA

All CPAs are account officers/accountants but not all account officers are CPAs.

Deciding whether you will become just an account officer or a CPA will help you understand the requirements that you must have in order to practice successfully.

Account officers usually work in an organization as part of the staff and in most cases, do not require certifications or licensure. On the other hand, CPAs must take extra steps and meet rigorous state requirements to earn licensure before practicing. The requirements for CPAs include a bachelor’s or master’s degree, passing the CPA exam, and working under a licensed CPA for 1800 hours.

Certified Public Accountants are always in high demand. Consequently, many companies offer their accountants bonuses to obtain a CPA license.

5. Pass the necessary exams

If you decide to become a CPA after earning your bachelor’s degree, then you must take and pass the CPA exam so as to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

The CPA exam consists of four parts including Regulation, Financial Accounting & Reporting, Business Environment & Concepts, and Audit & Attestation. It is offered during the first two months of each quarter and takes several days to complete.

6. Consider pursuing a master’s degree

Many account officers or CPAs go on to obtain a graduate degree. With a master’s degree in accounting, you are sure of securing lucrative account officer jobs at top companies. A master’s degree will also help you to stand out from other account officers when seeking promotion or jobs.

You may enroll in a full-time graduate program on-campus or enroll in online master’s degree accounting programs if you have work commitments.

Pursuing a master’s degree in accounting will give you comprehensive knowledge in the field and help you to stay abreast of accounting trends. 

7. Obtain licensure or certification

After completing your bachelor’s degree, proceed to acquire licensure or certification so as to gain more skills and certify your status as a professional account officer.

You can earn a wide range of accounting certifications. While the CPA certification is the most popular certification, other accounting certifications exist. Other popular accounting certifications that you can obtain include the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and an Enrolled Agent (EA).

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What is the salary and employment outlook of account officers?

The average salary for account officers is $61,379 per year. Account officers in the lowest percentile earn less than $45,220 while those in the highest percentile earn over $128,680.

The job outlook of account officers is projected to grow by 7 percent from 2020 to 2030- this is as fast as the average for other careers. Statistics show that approximately 135,000 account officer jobs are projected each year over the decade. The reason is that the baby boomer generation is aging quickly thereby leading to retirement.

Conclusion

Companies or businesses rely on the services of account officers or accountants in order to operate favorably. If you are planning to start a business or you are already running one, it is ideal that you seek expert advice from an account officer or accountant.

An account officer prepares and monitors financial records in your business or company so that you can know the financial status of your business at all times. Having a CPA in your organization will enable you to pay your taxes on time and comply with government financial policies.

Account officers also assist in the growth of a business or company by studying financial operations to suggest best practices and identifying problems and providing recommendations for financial improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do account officers work with?

Account officers work with managers in small, medium, and large companies or organizations to ensure the quality of their financial records. They may also work closely with individual team leads to retrieve and audit financial records in a calendar year.

What skills do I need for account officer jobs?

The skills that you must have to take up account officer jobs include math, bookkeeping, software, communication, critical thinking, detail orientation, organization, and teamwork.

What is the difference between an account officer and an accountant?

Accountants do the accounting (doing the books) for a business while account officers manage the accounts of an individual or a company by monitoring the performance of the account and advising the client or company on investments to undertake.

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