AbstractThis paper describes why a person would major in accounting and the possible careers, namely accountants and auditors, which a person could pursue. It describes the educational requirements to become an auditor as well as the certifications an auditor can get (but which are not required). The Institute of Internal Auditors can provide a person with the standards and exams they need to gain these certifications. The paper also discusses the earning potential for auditors and growth in the profession.

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Essay on Careers in Accounting
When thinking of the future, it is important to plan in many ways. While it’s not possible to plan for everything, there are things a person can control in order to make a good path for their life. Selecting a career is one thing a person can control that can pave the way. If a person picks a career that means something to them but doesn’t make them a lot of money, that may make the path much smoother in certain ways. If a person picks a career that they find interesting and will make them a lot of money, that may make the path much smoother in other ways. My motivations for selecting accounting as my major are my understanding that accounting is a lucrative profession and a challenging one. I like the idea of a challenge, and I like the idea of financial stability, and accounting brings these two elements together in one career. I’m interested in many fields within accounting, from forensic accounting to internal auditing. At this stage I’m leaning towards auditing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) states that there are two kinds of auditors – internal and external. The Bureau (2015) states that internal auditors “check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds” and “identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud.” External auditors have similar practices to internal ones; the big difference is that they are “employed by an outside organization, rather than the one they are auditing.” External auditors will “review clients’ financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Either of these types of auditing sounds challenging to me, and I am interested in both in equal measure.

In order to become an auditor a person must obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field, though some employers will give preference to candidates who have a master’s degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). The Bureau (2015) states that “a few universities and colleges offer specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in internal auditing” which would probably be useful for someone wanting to become an external auditor as well. Unlike certified public accountants (CPAs) auditors don’t have to be certified, but having certifications makes them more competitive. The Bureau (2015) states that there is an organization for internal auditors known as the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) which “provides generally accepted standards.” The IIA does offer a certification program, known as the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), to “graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). According to the IIA (2016) there are several different certifications an auditor can obtain: Certified Internal Auditor (CIA); a Qualification in Internal Auditor Leadership (QIAL); Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA); Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA); Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA); Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP); Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA); and Certified Process Safety Auditor (CPSA). To obtain these certifications candidates must have the appropriate educational requirements; sometimes there are experience requirements; and they must pass an examination (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

In terms how many hours needed for the job, the Bureau (2015) reports that most accounts and auditors work full-time, which basically means 40 hours a week, though during certain times of the year, like tax time or the end of budget cycles, they may have to work longer hours. Annual wages for accountants and auditors depends on which industry they work in; those that work in finance and insurance have the potential to make over $70,000 a year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Those who work in accounting-related fields, including tax preparation, have the potential to earn over $67,000 a year. Individuals who choose to work for the government have the potential to make about $65,000 a year.

The fields of accounting and auditing have room to grow, a fact which supports the idea of financial stability. In fact, the Bureau (2015) reports that there is an expected rate of growth of 11% for accountants and auditors, a rate which is “faster than the average for all occupations.” One of the reasons that these careers are expected to grow, particularly with regard to auditors, is that “tighter lending standards are expected to increase the importance of audits, as this is a key way for organizations to demonstrate their creditworthiness” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). While all this growth sounds good, however, it is likely to lead to saturation in the field. This means that people entering the fields of accounting and auditing will have to be competitive. The Bureau (2015) states that individuals “who have earned professional recognition” such as obtaining certifications (like through the IIA or becoming a CPA) will have a competitive edge over people who just got degrees, though people who obtain master’s degrees will have an advantage over people who got bachelor’s degrees.

If a person wants to pursue a degree that will offer them financial stability and a challenge, the field of accounting is the way to go. Not only are accounting-related jobs lucrative, they also offer a person the opportunity to participate in processes which ensure that organizations and individuals are being honest about their financial practices. Becoming an auditor will obviously require a college education, though pursuing a graduate degree would give a person a competitive edge. While it is not necessary to get certified, obtaining certifications through the IIA will also give a person an edge. The pay for full-time work is more than decent. There’s a lot of growth potential in the field. All of these elements suggest that becoming an auditor is a manageable, lucrative, and stable accounting career to pursue.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015). Accountants and auditors. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
  • Institute of Internal Auditors. (2016). Certification. The Institute of Internal Auditors – North America. Retrieved from https://na.theiia.org/certification/Pages/Certification.aspx