There are many different career paths open to you as an accountant. Once you complete your degree, you can work for a firm, corporation or bank, among other organizations. Depending on your specialty as an accountant, you may have many different professional titles throughout your career, including certified public accountant, general accountant and auditor. The titles you have differ depending on your career path, position and company structure.
The duties of a payroll manager may vary slightly depending on company size. Generally, the manager oversees the payroll process, compiles reports for management and trains new payroll staff members. A large company may have an entire department devoted strictly to payroll. In a smaller company, the payroll manager may be in charge of the complete payroll process -- from verifying hours worked to correcting tax deductions and cutting payroll checks. As manager, you are also responsible for keeping up to date with current payroll tax regulations and employee deductions.
A CPA, or certified public accountant, is a step up from being a general accountant. As a CPA, you can work for a company, accounting firm or start your own business. CPAs are required to have in-depth general accounting knowledge and be able to pass an accounting board exam. Once an accountant becomes a CPA, the designation is recognized in all states. CPAs may be required to obtain ongoing education for recertification and to keep up with evolving accounting requirements and standards.
A tax specialist has several opportunities open to him. Accountants working in this position may work for a tax preparation firm or open their own firms. Though the most common time for personal tax filing is between January and April, tax specialists work all year, though the hours may be more strenuous around filing deadlines. Tax specialists are required to thoroughly understand tax law, regulations, and how to accurately use them to determine how much of a tax payment or refund a client is due. These accountants also make regular filings and tax payments for clients throughout the year.
Controllers are the overall financial managers for corporations. This position may be incorporated into a chief financial officer position or have bookkeeper duties folded in, depending on the size of the company. A controller may have several accountants or CPAs that he supervises. The controller is in charge of financial reporting for the company. He works with the management to develop a budget, creates and implements the company's accounting procedures and oversees cash management. The controller also manages accounts payable, receivable and collections, where applicable.
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