The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which is charged with monitoring all major professions and industries in the United States, predicts a rather stable future for those who seek a career as a certified public accountant. Through the end of the decade, the federal body estimates that the profession will grow by about 16 percent each year, representing a rate of growth on par with most other industries nationwide. All told, accountants and auditors can expect to enjoy up to 190,000 new jobs in the field through the end of the present decade.
For those who do choose to become employed as a certified public accountant, the median salary associated with the profession will certainly not disappoint. As of 2010, the median pay for a certified public accountant was just over $61,000 with an hourly rate of $29.66. Getting started as an accountant requires students and job candidates to have a combination of the right resources, the best connections, and a list of government guidelines that can strengthen their understanding of best practices and common standards. From accrediting bodies to Twitter accounts and government agencies, the CPA career guide is appropriately extensive.
Accrediting Bodies Concerned with the Accounting Profession
Accounting almost always falls within the school of business at a college or university, and that means it is subject to the rigorous accreditation standards of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB. The AACSB’s accreditation is considered the most prestigious recognition for any business program, and certainly for any accounting program contained within a business school at either the graduate or post-graduate level.
AACSB accreditation is voluntary, and many schools do not yet have the organization’s seal of approval. Those that do have demonstrated exemplary peer evaluation processes and self-evaluation programs, as well as a superior commitment to academic excellent and great rigor throughout both graduate and undergraduate programs.
Accreditation by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education is held by hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide, as well as by some institutions of higher education around the world. The accreditation is considered much the same as AACSB’s offering, though it is less common and many prospective employers may not be familiar with the ideals and requirements espoused by the body when it decides whether or not to accredit a given school’s business and accounting programs and practices.
The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs maintains a third, voluntary program for business school accreditation that ranks as the third-most popular nationwide. Just over 500 academic institutions have been accredited by the organization, which offers a voluntary accreditation process that stands next to regional higher education accreditation programs. The ACBSP, like the AACBS, is primarily focused on the peer evaluation process within accounting education and career programs, though a great deal of emphasis is also placed on academic rigor and career education programs that value internships and other forms of real world experience.
Accounting Industry Journals and Authoritative Publications
The accounting profession is quite broad and diverse, as can be seen by the sheer number of positions and titles available to those graduates who successfully complete a four-year or graduate-level program in the field. While many journals for those in the profession focus on accounting in the broadest sense, The CPA Journal focuses exclusively on the industry as it concerns existing certified public accountants, or those who may soon become CPAs.
The prerogative of The CPA Journal is one that focuses heavily on regulatory changes and substantial alterations to international, national, or state laws in the field. Personal stories and research submitted by existing CPAs and academic researchers is also printed in some editions. With both print and offline editions, The CPA Journal is a must-have subscription for all current and aspiring certified public accountants.
The Journal of Accountancy is the “broad” counterpart to the CPA Journal’s rather narrow focus. With decades of experience providing industry insights and research, the Journal of Accountancy is easily the most popular publication among all accountants nationwide. Of course, that might be because it’s the official flagship publication of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants itself, but it may also be because of the great depth of insight offered by each regular release of the journal. For information about regulatory changes, technological developments, and research into the effects of various accounting professions, the Journal of Accountancy is a must-read.
Designed to promote greater understanding of accounting and the theories that drive the profession both domestically and abroad, the International Journal of Accounting is the leading publication for accountants around the world. Its unique, international perspective gives the journal a new way of viewing financial regulations, news in the accounting industry, and insight into where the profession is headed as it begins to intersect with international law and fast-paced technological developments.
For every dollar parsed by certified public accountants, someone else is working behind the scenes to enforce ethics, ensure accountability, and work to reduce the kind of major conflicts that can lead to problems with laws and financial oversight committees. The Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal focuses on the accountability side of accounting itself, taking a hard look at ethics, legal challenges, and ongoing debates about industry performance and best practices. For those new to the profession, this valuable resource will make clear just how important it is to stay within industry regulations while working toward new and better policies worldwide.
Specialized Job Boards for Accounting Professionals
The market for CPAs is stable and growing, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Nowhere is this more evident than at CPAStaffing.com, which specializes in linking certified public accountants with the employers who require their service. Billed as an online staffing agency, CPAStaffing.com has jobs in all fifty states and occasionally has some openings overseas. It’s the best way for those new to the profession to find the right job for their skills, interests, and experience.
Operated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the CPA Career Center is focused primarily on matching new and seasoned CPAs with jobs from coast to coast. Thanks to its status as the only “official” CPA career resource, jobseekers are likely to find a more frequently updated list of jobs that offers positions in more cities and states than virtually any other resource.
Part job board and part career resource, the AwesomeAccountants.com website will match aspiring certified public accountants with jobs near them. While they look for jobs, wait for interviews, and anticipate landing the position of their dreams, certified public accountants can peruse the site’s many career resources, industry guides, and clippings from journals and other major publications throughout the accounting community at large.
There are plenty of job sites online for certified public accountants who are looking to land their first position or to change employers. DirectoryCPA acts as an aggregator for all of these websites, giving jobseekers a single website that culls job listings in the field from most major accounting sites. It’s a great way to bookmark just one website, while searching for local and relevant positions from all across the Internet.
Government Resources for the Accounting Industry
The Government Accounting Standards Board serves as the de facto source of accounting best practices and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United States. The regulatory body oversees certified public accountants, auditors, and others in the accounting industry who work with personal, corporate, and governmental finance employers. For private employers, the organization has produced the “Statements, Interpretations, Technical Bulletins, and Concept Statements” guide to acceptable accounting practices. For government workers, the organization defers to the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.
Serving state, local, and federal government agencies, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory board works with the Government Accounting Standards Board to develop generally accepted accounting principles for use within government agencies and public positions. The FASAB generally issues a series of GAAP guidelines that concur or closely align with those developed by the GASB.
Professional Associations and Societies Dedicated to the Profession
Certified public accountants who either manage public funds, or work directly for a government agency, are eligible for membership with the Association of Government Accountants. The professional organization unifies government accountants into a single, unified interest group that features its own publications, a series of member benefits, and online resources, that helps to further understanding of government accounting principles and empower those who work in the public sector so that they can remain competitive with their private sector counterparts.
Founded in 1887, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the oldest professional organization currently serving the large and growing number of certified public accountants in the United States. The professional organization prints its own journal, the Journal of Accountancy, and actually works to develop its own set of standards that define generally acceptable accounting principles, or GAAP. It should be noted, however, that the AICPA’s GAAP efforts are now considered largely secondary and optional in an era following the passage of the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley financial regulatory legislation.
The American Accounting Association is a secondary professional body for those in the accounting industry, including those who work as a certified public accountant. Though the organization does not have the size, scope, or history o the AICPA, it still serves as a strong way for accountants to unify, come together over central topics, and learn more about industry standards and regulatory developments.
Small business accountancy might be the single fastest growing niche within the larger accounting profession, and that means these professionals need their own representative body. Founded to give a voice to small business accountants who suffered a lack of recognition before the PASBA’s founding, the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants hosts webinars and conferences concerning industry developments, small business considerations, and ethical seminars concerning smaller organizations. Membership in this organization is absolutely essential for those CPAs who wish to develop a clearer understanding of the small business industry and how accounting can benefit small business owners.
Twitter Accounts Worth Following for Aspiring Accountants
Every profession has some kind of daily digest on twitter, and Accounting Today is that daily digest for established or aspiring certified public accountants. The Twitter account is used to publish all kinds of news from the industry, including groundbreaking research, new regulations, tax code modifications, and unique achievements made by those in the industry. When combined with the Twitter account’s coverage of webinars, live chats, and national conventions, the account becomes a real asset for CPAs in the field.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has long abandoned its own @AICPA account, but the organization’s focus on Twitter was not lost. The AICPA now regularly updates and maintains its Journal of Accountancy’s Twitter account, focusing on groundbreaking articles and commentary that would otherwise not be available to CPAs until the next issue was sent out. The AICPA’s Journal of Accountancy Twitter account is easily the leading source for news, research, and industry developments, for those aspiring to a CPA career or those currently in the profession.
The AccountingWEB Twitter account is a great supplement to the two accounts mentioned earlier, as it features a great deal of constantly updated news and commentary concerning CPAs and the wider accounting industry at large. Standing in stark contrast to the Journal of Accountancy’s own Twitter presence, the AccountingWEB option is full of international regulatory news and research that otherwise wouldn’t make the cut on the AICPA Twitter account. Those who follow @AccountingWEB can also engage in live tweet chats and online webinars that will further their understanding of the industry.