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Duties of an Accountant

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Accounting services involves much more than just filling out tax forms at the end of the year. Accountants are responsible to keep accurate financial records for individuals, small businesses and large companies. These records should show whether a company is making a profit or whether it is suffering a loss. The accountant can translate the financial records so that problem areas can be pinpointed and corrected with his or her bookkeeping services.

Function

An accountant's job is to record, analyze and report a company or individual's financial status. The accountant functions as an advisor. The client reviews the bookkeeping services and what accountant is telling them about their financial state to make adjustments as needed. More specifically, an accountant keeps accurate business transactions in ledgers and then records them on financial statements monthly, quarterly and yearly. The accountant can also interpret the financial statements to the client and show them any problem areas as well as any areas that are successful. Finally, the accountant functions as a tax preparer.

Types

Accountants do not legally have to obtain any degree or accounting license to perform their duties. Because of this, there are many different types of accountants and accounting firms. First, there are certified accountants. These accountants usually work for accounting firms. There are also accountants who act more like bookkeepers and just take individual clients or small business clients. Another type of accountant is an auditor.

Auditors can get a certified license after passing an exhausting four-part exam. Auditors are responsible for examining the financial records of a business or an individual. The point is to determine whether fraud has been committed. Finally, you have your tax preparers. Tax preparers may or may not have a degree. They work strictly from January to April, or longer if extensions were filed.

Time Frame

Accountants are not generally needed during the year for individuals. They keep their records themselves and then just give the records to the accountant at tax time. Small businesses may need an accountant to stop by once per week to update the books. The accountant would then create quarterly financial statements for small business bookkeeping so the business owner can see how the company is doing.

When tax time comes, the accountant would be able to prepare the taxes rather quickly because they have kept up with the financial records throughout the year. A big corporation would need to hire accountants to work at their companies on a daily basis to keep up with their transactions. These corporations would most likely have an accounting department with several accountants who are responsible for keeping the records all year long.

Potential

Accountants have the potential to work their way up to better paying jobs. They can begin without a degree working for individuals. While they are doing that, they can attend school and get their degree. Once they have their degree, they may move up to taking on to small business bookkeeping. Next, they take their certified public accountant exam and become licensed. They use their experience to apply for a job with a firm. They start out working under another CPA until they get good at what they do. The better they get, the more work is given to them until they are the ones training new accountants.

Warning

Be careful who you allow to do your taxes at the end of the year. Retail tax preparation chains typically hire individuals and teach them how to input tax information in their computers. These individuals do not hold a degree and often don't know why they are inputting certain information into the computer. You are better off finding a certified public accountant. That is an accountant that has earned a degree and passed the CPA exam. Don't assume that, just because a company is a brand name, that they are using professional CPA's. Ask first.

References

About the Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for 13 years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, GoBankingRates and WiseGeek. Bodine is passionate about gardening, travel, education and finance. She has received awards for being a top content producer.

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  • Andrew Bret Wallis/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images