Accountants can specialize in a variety of disciplines of accounting such as cost accounting, financial budgeting, auditing or management accounting. A general accountant administers and maintains a variety of accounting and financial functions for individuals or organizations. General accountants handle all accounting responsibilities, rather than specialize in one accounting discipline.
Generally, employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related discipline. Obtaining the Certified Public Accountant credential may increase employment opportunities for general accountants. Obtaining the credential generally requires 150 additional hours of accounting coursework and passing an exam.
Budgeting and Analysis
General accountants prepare financial budgets for individuals and organizations. They analyze spending, find areas to invest in to increase revenue and profitability and also suggest areas to cut costs. Their analysis includes economic trends, current and future financial obligations, as well as current and projected income to meet future financial goals.
General accountants maintain all financial records for an organization. General accountants who work with individuals receive financial records from them to prepare financial reports. They often audit records to ensure accuracy. Using the financial records, they create reports such as profit and loss, accounts payable and receivable, depreciation and asset management. They also educate individuals and employees regarding how to maintain their financial records to ensure accuracy.
Businesses and individuals must file local, state and federal tax returns. Using the financial records they maintain, general accountants ensure taxes are paid in a timely manner. They prepare all tax returns in accordance to the Internal Revenue Service’s requirements, which can include filing taxes quarterly or yearly. General accountants also strategize to save money through tax-planning.
Careers and Salary
Over 1 million accountants and auditors were employed in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which expects about 16 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020, adding about 190,000 new accounting and auditing jobs. Along with stricter government regulations as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2012, many businesses and individuals will require skilled accountants to ensure they are creditworthy and compliant with all laws and regulations. In 2011, the BLS estimated an average salary of $70,130 per year for accountants and auditors.