Companies would not operate efficiently without accountants, who track and examine financial statements, compute taxes and assess all financial operations. In small companies, they might conduct all accounting functions. Those in larger companies usually work in accounts receivable or accounts payable divisions, or as cost accountants, who calculate raw material and labor costs to help departments reduce expenses and maximize profits. If you are interested in becoming an accountant, you will need a formal education. When you get your first job, expect to make an above-average income.
Salary and Qualifications
Accountants earned average annual salaries of $70,130 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. If you were among the top 10 percent in earnings, you would earn more than $109,870 annually. To get hired as an accountant, you will need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. Other important qualifications include math, communication and analytical skills.
Salary by Industry
Salaries for accountants can vary considerably by industry. You would earn one of the highest salaries working for the federal executive branch of government, according to the BLS -- $89,930 per year. Providing services to writers, actors and artists would earn you a salary of $88,290 annually. Accountants also earned relatively high salaries in the security and commodities industry at $85,420 per year. Those working for accounting or payroll firms earned closer to average industry salaries at $75,060; while accountants who worked for a local government earned $60,380 per year.
Salary by State or District
Accountant salaries often vary geographically because of housing and living costs. New York is one such state with higher living costs, compared to more sparsely populated states. That said, accountants earned the highest annual salaries in the District of Columbia and New York, according to the BLS -- $86,030 and $85,070 per year, respectively. If you work in New Jersey, you would earn an average of $81,250 per year. However, expect to earn closer to the national average for accountants working in Pennsylvania or Texas -- with a salary of $70,650 or $70,120 per year, respectively. And if you work in Florida, you would earn about $65,440 annually.
Jobs for accountants are expected to increase 16 percent by 2020, according to the BLS, which is about average compared to the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. New laws and regulations have been implemented by the government because of recent corporate scandals and financial woes in the banking industry. Consequently, accountants will be increasingly needed to report corporate profits and financial investments, which can provide you with more job opportunities.
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