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    Accountants and Auditors prepare, analyze and verify financial reports crucial to all business and government organizations for sound financial planning. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must pass a series of exams and be licensed by the State Board of Accountancy to earn the title "CPA". The three major accounting specialties are:

    Management Accountants

    Management Accountants work for private companies. They:

    • maintain financial records
    • help with budget planning
    • advise top management

    A single Management Accountant may perform all accounting functions in a company, or there may be several specialists within the firm. Cost Accountants, for example, study the costs of production, administration and distribution, compare actual costs to expected costs, and make recommendations for cost-control measures.

    Public Accountants

    Public Accountants have their own businesses or work for private accounting firms. They:

    • examine financial statements, records and systems of control
    • attest that accounting records conform to established standards
    • accurately present the company's financial condition

    Some Accountants specialize in taxation. Tax Accountants:

    • compute individual and corporate tax returns
    • design long-range tax and estate plans
    • advise clients on the tax ramifications of proposed activities

    Other Accountants specialize in management consulting. They help clients solve complex business problems ranging from securing funds for expansion programs to the design and installation of computer-based information systems.

    Government Accountants

    Government Accountants work for local, state, or federal government agencies. Many work for the federal government as Internal Revenue Service agents investigating charges of criminal and civil violations of federal tax laws. Some work as tax auditors or bank examiners. Others are involved in financial management and budget administration at the various levels.

    Internal Auditors

    Internal Auditors are in demand in private companies. They frequently use internal computer systems to produce up-to-the-minute information that allows management to base decisions on actual, rather than historical, data. To protect a company against fraud and waste, they:

    • examine and evaluate their firm’s financial and information systems
    • look at management procedures
    • review company operations, evaluating their efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with corporate policies and procedures


    Accountants have and use the following skills and abilities:

    • Mathematical reasoning --The ability to understand and organize a problem and then to select a mathematical method or formula to solve the problem
    • Quick and accurate basic math ability -- The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly
    • Problem Identification -- Identifying the nature of problems
    • Written comprehension -- The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing
    • Knowledge of personal computers and accounting software

    These professionals should be able to work independently, perform well under pressure, comprehend information quickly and possess good analytical and communication skills. They must be able to explain and interpret data for clients. Employers often require that applicants be "bondable". This means the worker can have no previous criminal, felony, or misdemeanor convictions such as driving under the influence, bad credit, vandalism, or unpaid child support.


    Accountants and Auditors work in a normal office setting, but often work away from their desk in a client’s office to perform audits. Some jobs, such as those performed by government auditors, require considerable travel. The work is often challenging and may be stressful. Accountants often work long hours under pressure during the first quarter of the calendar year, which is both tax and audit season.


    The following information is from the California Projections and Planning Information published by the Labor Market Information Division:

    Estimated number of workers in 1996:
    Estimated number of workers in 2006:
    Projected Growth 1996-2006:
    Estimated openings due to separations by 2006:


    (These figures do not include self-employment.)

    According to the California Board of Accountancy, there were approximately 60,000 licensed CPAs in May of 1999, with an estimated 40,000 of those listed as "active" practitioners.

    For the Job Outlook in your local area, click here.


    A growing number of Accountants and Auditors have extensive computer skills and specialize in correcting problems with existing software programs. Some Accountants develop their own software to meet unique data needs. There is evidence that some Accountants and accounting students are leaving the field for better paying jobs in computer programming.



    The 1997 State Occupational Employment Statistics and Wage Estimates reported Accountants in California earn an average of $20.91 per hour. However, earnings are considerably higher and often exceed $100,000 annually for CPAs who work in large well-known firms, or who are partners in successful companies.

    For wage information in your local area, click here.


    Work hours vary. Most Accountants work 40 hours per week, but overtime is required during tax season, which lasts approximately from January through mid-April.


    Benefits normally include paid vacations, sick leave, group health insurance, and retirement plans. Some companies offer profit-sharing plans. CPA firms often pay for CPA exams, continuing education courses, and professional society membership dues.


    Education and Training

    Accountants and Auditors almost always need a bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting. For tax management accounting, an MA degree is desirable. A college grade point average of 3.0 or higher is generally expected for job entry into accounting firms.

    Licensing and Certification

    Public Accountant (PA) licenses are no longer issued to new Accountants, and are only renewed to current licensees.

    California and all other states use the same Uniform CPA examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The examination is given twice a year in California at locations in Pleasanton, Sacramento, San Diego and Pomona. Although candidates are not required to pass all the parts at once, they must do so within three years of passing two or more parts of the first exam. A carefully planned, intensive review contributes to success on the exam.

    There are several ways to qualify to take the CPA examination in California:

    1. Baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college or university accredited by a U.S. regional or national accreditation body, which includes a core course requirement of 45 semester units of accounting and business subjects, with a minimum of 10 units in accounting subjects;
    2. 120 semester units of course work (no degree) from a college or university accredited by a U.S. regional or national accreditation body, which includes a core course requirement of 45 semester units of business and accounting subjects, including a minimum of 10 semester units in accounting;
    3. The equivalent of Alternative (1) or (2) at a foreign college or university. Foreign degrees must be evaluated by a Board approved Academic Credential Service, and evaluations must be submitted to the Board of Accountancy either prior to applying for the CPA exam or with the exam application;
    4. Passing grade in Board specified preliminary examinations provided by the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and 10 semester units of accounting from an accredited college or university, OR be a member of a Board recognized foreign accounting society.

    Some colleges offer internships and/or cooperative education work-study programs for a limited number of accounting students in their junior year or above. Interns work in an accounting office for about three months; co-ops alternate several periods of work and study. Such programs offer valuable practical experience and often lead to permanent jobs.

    Continuing Education

    Eighty continuing education units are required every two years in order to retain one’s CPA license. Of these, 24 units must pertain to auditing and accounting topics.


    Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Private firms are listed in the Yellow Pages under Accountants. Large accounting firms do recruit students from some California colleges.

    For more information, see your local employment and training provider


    Management Accountants may earn the Certificate in Management Accounting (CMA) from the Institute of Management Accounting, or the Certificate in Internal Auditing (CIA) from the Institute of Internal Auditing. Both require lengthy written exams and experience. Although neither of these certificates is required by law, they are generally considered symbols of achievement and can aid in career advancement.

    Experienced CPAs may advance to manager and eventually to partner. Some leave to open their own practices. Management Accountants may become senior-level supervisors or department managers. A few become Controllers, Treasurers, or Chief Financial Officers.


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    Links to Accounting Auditing and Financial Analyst Websites

    Professional Organizations:

    American Academy of Financial Management Dedicated to worldwide membership and financial analyst training and designations along with financial planning and asset management credentials.

    American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
    The AICPA is the national organization for Certified Public Accountants.

    AICPA's List of State CPA Societies
    Locate a CPA organization in your state (provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).

    American Accounting Association (AAA)
    The AAA accounting education, research, and practice.

    National Associated CPA Firms (NACPAF)
    An international group accounting firms

    National Society of Accountants (NSA)
    NSA and its affiliates represent accounting, tax, auditing, financial and estate planning individuals and businesses.

    Association of Government Accountants (AGA)
    Educational organization dedicated to the enhancement of public financial management.

    American Academy of Financial Management
    The professional organization devoted to providing education to be board certified as a financial analyst, master financial planner, wealth management, and offering courses in financial management, trust and estate planning, and wealth management.

    Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)
    The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB),

    Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
    The Financial Accounting Standards Board

    American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
    The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers

    Institute of Management Accountants
    The professional organization devoted to management accounting & financial management.

    Institute of Certified E-Commerce Consultants
    The professional organization devoted ebusiness management

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