Accountants play an integral role in both businesses and not for profit organizations, individuals and government institutions. Even though specific accounting job descriptions can vary from one organization to another, accountants will usually be charged with many aspects of the money management process including putting in place the necessary checks and balances necessary to ensure that finances are disbursed in line with laid down organization procedure and industry best practice.
General accounting job descriptions:
There are various functions and roles carried out by accountants. That said, many general accounting job descriptions will often include budgeting, banking and bank reconciliation, handling petty cash, maintaining ledgers, paying expenses, preparing the payroll and calculating and paying taxes. During the course of their duties, accountants will often prepare a number of reports such as the sales schedule, the profit and loss account, the balance sheet, an asset schedule, debtors and creditors report, expenses report and the accruals schedule.
These reports are meant to assist the management of the organization make strategic financial decisions based on current financial data. Auditors are accountants with the more specialized role of reviewing the financial records prepared by business line accountants. But they not only look at the records but they also assess the entire system and make the necessary recommendations on what needs to be done in order to better the internal controls and thus reduce risks.
Types of accounting jobs:
Due to the relevance of accountants in all spheres of the economy, there are various types of accountants with each ones role defined based on their area of specialization and, sometimes, the industry they work in. Nevertheless, there is rarely a clear cut distinction between one type of accountant and the other and many times actual accounting job descriptions will have an overlap of different types of accounting jobs.
* Public accountants usually work as external auditors as well as consultants providing service to organizations and individuals that retain or engage their service. The best example of public accountants are what are today known as the Big 4 accounting firms which are the largest public accountant firms in the world. Public accounting career descriptions include performing audit reviews and assisting organizations and individuals in tax planning and tax reporting. Many public accountants are effectively the external auditors of the firms they work for and serve to complement the role played by internal auditors especially in large organizations. In the US, public accountants must be certified by the Institute of Public Accountants for a given state. They must have completed the certified public accountant (CPA) examinations as well as have had a minimum level of experience. The specific years of experience required for one to qualify as a CPA slightly differs from one state to another.
* Government accountants work with the federal government, state government arms and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The accounting job descriptions for government accountant include the preparation and auditing of government accounts. They ensure that taxpayers’ funds are properly utilized as per the requirements of the law.
* Management accountants are, as the name suggests, an important part of an institution’s management team and management agenda. The accounting career descriptions for management accountants will usually revolve around monitoring and reporting on organization wide financial data. They review accounting reports and interpret them to top management so that the appropriate decisions can be made.