An accountant is a business professional that assists an organization with bookkeeping, payroll, budgeting, and taxes. Accounting professionals at the entry level typically manage budgets, process invoices, and create balance sheets and income statements. Upper-level positions with executive responsibilities, such as lead controllers, often oversee entire departments of accountants.

Employers that hire accountants typically require an undergraduate degree in accounting or higher (such as an undergraduate degree in business administration and a master of science in accounting). In some countries, accountants must hold additional certifications and licenses. For example, in the U.S., most upper-level accounting positions require that professionals are "Certified Public Accountants" or hold a "CPA." Some bachelor's and master's degree programs will provide students with a CPA. Other times, students are required to obtain these types of certifications on their own in addition to their degree.

According to a variety of industry growth reports, accounting will be one of the most demanded fields in business in the coming years. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth is expected to increase faster than average between 2008 and 2018.

Starting Salaries

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (a U.S. nonprofit association), the average annual salary offer for accounting majors in the U.S. was 49,407 USD in September 2011. This is compared to an average offer of 48,378 USD in September 2010. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the U.S. the top 10% of accountants earned an average of 102,380 USD per year in 2008. According to data from, in 2005 accountants in Canada earned an average of 50,256 Canadian dollars per year and accountants in China earned an average of 17,592 yuans per year.

Helpful Resources

Wikipedia Accountant Description

Start Here Go Places
A website by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that specifically discusses careers in accounting in the United States.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Within the bureau's annual Occupational Handbook, a detailed job description and outlook are provided.
Average monthly salaries for accountants from a variety of countries.