Public Accounting Programs
*These are top schools in Public Accounting and do not represent any order in ranking.
Public accounting is the most diverse type of accounting. A public accountant works for an accounting firm that provides auditing, bookkeeping, financial analysis, tax, consulting and accounting services for other organizations, businesses, government agencies, non government agencies as well as individuals.
In order to practice public accounting, an individual needs a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or other related field. There are many employers who prefer applicants with a master's degree in business administration with accounting or in accounting. By taking up a master's program the individual gets an opportunity to pursue an area of interest like tax or cost accounting.
Sometimes, graduates of community colleges, accounting clerks and bookkeepers who have the education and experience requirements of the employer get a job as a junior accountant. Work experience of about 2 years is utmost important to get a job as a public accountant and to apply for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Work experience can be gained through part-time or summer internships with a business or public accounting firm. Such a license is given by the state's Board of Accountancy and is considered as the accounting profession's highest standard of proficiency and assurance of quality.
Every accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or wants to set up their own firm is required to have a CPA license. To become a CPA the individual is required to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework and clear four-part national exam within 18 months of clearing the first part. This uniform exam is designed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and is held by the NASBA. In most of the US states, CPAs are required to renew their license every 2-3 years along with continuing education requirements.
An entry level public accountant within 1 or 2 years often advance to senior positions. Over the years many accountants become managers, supervisors, partners or even open their public accounting firm. It has been found that Public accountants often move into another aspect of accounting and auditing such as internal auditing or management accounting.
The average salary of a public accountant with Bachelor's degree is $59,00 and one with masters degree, MBA or CPA is $84,000.
It has been predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that the employment opportunities of accountants is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years mainly due to setting up of more start-up businesses, complexity of taxes, change in the financial regulations, accounting information systems and international controls. This job prospect is best for those with advanced education or CPA license. The employment growth rate of an accountant is expected to be 16 percent from the year 2010 to 2020. This growth rate is as fast as the average of other professions.
A Public accountant is expected to work 35 to 40 hours every week. However, during the tax season the working hours for the Public accountant are much more. They must be organized, Analytical, patient and accurate.