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i am thinking of making this my prrofession but i had a few q's first

1. do you schedual your own hours or does someone (like a boss or manager) do it for you

2. what is the pay scale

3. what do you do as an accountant

4. what courses would you recommend and what degree do you need to be successful?

i was thinking of becoming one because i love math and am great with figures and keeping track of things. i think this is what being an accountant involves buti am not sure. thanks for any help and advice.
 

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I'm not an accountant but I am an MBA student who's had to take a few accounting classes.

My suggestion is to take an accounting class and see how you do. Financial accounting is a good place to start since this is where you learn the basics. If you like the class, then I'd talk with the professor and professional accountants in the area (your school should be able to point you in the right direction). The school I'm attending has a special program, the "Masters of Acounting" that provides you with all the classes you need to take and all the knowledge and requirements to get the CPA. The requirements can be very complicated and vary from state to state, so it's easiest to get into a program that takes all the guesswork out of it. I imagine most schools that have accounting classes offer something like this.

It's been my experience that it takes a specific kind of person to be an accountant. I thought initially that this is what I wanted to do because I'm good at math too. In the end, I realized it's just not for me. I liked the classes just fine and did very well in them, it's just that I couldn't see myself working in a job that required me to sit at a desk and stare at spreadsheets all day. Just not my thing.
 

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It REALLY depends on what field you go into. There is a vast amount of difference between all the different types. You could go public (working for one employer, doing work for different businesses/individuals) or you could go private (working for one employer and doing work for that employer).

I'm in public accounting. I'll answer your questions from that perspective, since it's what I have the most knowledge of.

1. My hours are scheduled by a firm mandate - in other words, our official "working" hours are 8-12, 1 hour lunch, then work 1-5. In reality, that doesn't happen. There is a busy season and a downtime - tax season (January - April) as you might imagine is busy season. That time of year it is rare that I work LESS than 65-70 hours per week. Downtime, for me at least, is the rest of the year for the most part, and my hours are quite flexible then. I'm expected to be there 9-3, but otherwise as long as my work is done I can come and go.

2. Pay scale varies, again, depending on public vs. private as well as what kind of degree you have, and the area you live in. I'm in Wisconsin. With no degree you may find a job making $8.00/hour. With a 2-year degree in public accounting you may end up somewhere around $11-$12/hour. A 4-year degree will net you somewhere around $30,000/year, and having a CPA license will get you approx. $38,000/year. Those are general figures for a starting wage in my area. Around here, public accountants almost always make less than private.

3. What you do varies as well. There are so many different jobs in both the private sector and the public one. For me, in public accounting, I work with about 25 small businesses. Some have their own accountants on staff and then send me all their work to review each month. Some have no accountant on staff and I take their bank statements, checks, etc. and give them a financial statement that reflects what happened based on the information they provided. I do more than your list of being good at math and liking to keep track of things - you also have to be something of a detective. If things don't balance or come out how you expect them to, you need to figure out why. Your list is a good starting point, though - it was about all I knew when I started in this industry 7 years ago.

4. As far as coursework - this again depends on what you intend to do. My first suggestion would be to contact a few different employers and see if you could spend a day or even a few hours "shadowing" an employee they have. I recently did this at my firm - we had someone come in to fulfill a job shadowing requirement they had for their class. I sat with him for a while, told him my educational background, what I do in a typical day, what I like about my job, what I dislike, how I got into the field, etc. I would suggest for you, before throwing yourself into something you may not like, you may want to try something like this. Do a small employer, a large employer, someone in the private sector, someone in public. All of their duties will be different. That will give you a better feel for what you may want to do, because there are very different jobs out there for accountants. It's not a one size fits all profession. Once you see something that looks like a good fit, ask them how they got there - what education they have, how they got that job, etc.

Good luck!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by crazydiamond
It's been my experience that it takes a specific kind of person to be an accountant. I thought initially that this is what I wanted to do because I'm good at math too. In the end, I realized it's just not for me. I liked the classes just fine and did very well in them, it's just that I couldn't see myself working in a job that required me to sit at a desk and stare at spreadsheets all day. Just not my thing.


This makes me emphasize even more the job shadowing. Because the sitting at a desk and staring at spreadsheets every day isn't anywhere near what I do!

Some do, though - so that's why I say to get a feel for it first.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BlueEyedLady


This makes me emphasize even more the job shadowing. Because the sitting at a desk and staring at spreadsheets every day isn't anywhere near what I do!

Some do, though - so that's why I say to get a feel for it first.
Heh, yeah I know not all do.


It just depends on what type of accountant and who you work for. I talked to the ones I work with and that's all they do all day. Of course they're all financial accounts for a mega Fortune 100 company. But that wasn't the sole reason I decided to pursue a different concentration, though. There is a lot of variation but I still contend the profession isn't for everyone.
 

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I like the spreadsheets
, it's the repetition that gets to me. I like forecasting and reporting - more finance than accounting. So I'm going to finish my bus. admin. degree and then my MBA.

As for the OP - you'll need at least some classes - take a look at your local community college. Most of them have an AA in accounting, so they'll have some classes for you to take.

*****BUT, I would NOT get your AA in accounting - most of the classes will not transfer to a BA if you want to go on to that later, look into a transfer degree in business that's guaranteed to be accepted at a 4-year university later *****

I started my career in accounting making about $12/hour with 1 year of community college - I worked my way up to $40k/yr without finishing my degree, but I can't make much more than that right now without finishing a BA.

Like the pp's have said, the work varies a lot. Go to monster.com or careerbuilder.com and take a look at the jobs that are available in your area and the payscale they're offering.
 

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*****BUT, I would NOT get your AA in accounting - most of the classes will not transfer to a BA if you want to go on to that later, look into a transfer degree in business that's guaranteed to be accepted at a 4-year university later *****

Not necessarily true, I think it depends on where you go. I have my AA and I got accepted into a BA program that transferred my degree and all my classes as credits towards my BA.

That said, I would never be a CPA!!
I am a full charge bookkeeper and I have my own business also, and I get to do the things I enjoy, payroll, A/P, A/R, spreadsheets, quarterlys, etc. without having the burden of doing the tax end of it!! I work closely with several CPAs that refer smaller clients to me, and it works out well for all involved!!

My hourly is $25.00 (Thats about all my area can support, so my ultimate goal is to get big enough to have several "helpers" that I can bill out at $25.00 but pay $12.00) I am not looking to get rich though, just have enough business that I can work my own hours from home, make a decent living and enjoy my kids!!
 
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