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Accounting Career Mixes Finance, Crime and Problem-Solving

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

The importance of accountants and auditors is often underestimated. In fact, major financial scandals – like Enron and WorldCom – were discovered when inconsistencies and fraud were revealed in the financial records of the companies.

Accountants are the gatekeepers of the economic foundation of small and large businesses, as well as individual finances. They offer their knowledge and wisdom to guide business owners and managers in navigating the streams of financial decision-making. They also solve financial problems and help individuals to avoid problems with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its ever-changing tax laws.

Interestingly, accountants have been instrumental in the administration of justice as well.

For example, in 1931 Al Capone, who had escaped serving any significant prison time for his many crimes – including murder – was convicted of income tax evasion and sentenced to eleven years in prison. The U.S. Treasury Department’s accountants were instrumental in carefully developing a case against Capone with the cooperation of the FBI. Capone’s lavish lifestyle, financed by his numerous illegal activities, helped to provide the evidence needed to put him away for at least seven of the eleven years, before his declining health influenced an early release from Alcatraz.

Of course, working as an accountant is not usually filled with such a slew of interesting cases. Accounting work generally involves preparing, analyzing and verifying detailed financial records. Accountants may specialize in a particular area, such as public accounting, tax accounting, government accounting, auditing, forensic accounting or other specialties.

Training as an accountant involves earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, which may be fulfilled in an online school via distance learning. Courses may include financial accounting, intermediate accounting, business math, business law, federal income taxes, managerial accounting, accounting information systems, auditing and more.

The field of accounting is set to expand rapidly between 2006 and 2016, with an 18% growth rate expected between 2006 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual income generally runs between $47,200 and $57,020 for entry-level accountant and auditing jobs. Junior accountants may begin with an approximate salary of $29,000-$36,000.

A career in accounting offers a fascinating look at the inner workings of individual and business finances and offers an opportunity to help solve financial problems and challenges.

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