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Figuring Out an Accounting Career

What You Can Count On: Job Security

For the 2007 fiscal year, Microsoft reported an annual revenue of $51.2 billion. Behind any company's revenue numbers--big or small--are accountants and financial managers who balance the books. In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act added further scrutiny to corporate procedures. Between government regulations and the thousands of companies that need to manage finances, the immediate benefit of a career in accounting is a reasonable amount of job security. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong growth for accountants and auditors through 2016.

What You Can Take to the Bank: Strong Earnings

Another benefit for an accountant is that the median annual salary for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services is $57,020. Going further into the financial services industry, you could become a financial manager for a major corporation and earn in the neighborhood of $105,410 a year according to the BLS. You can also work your way up the corporate ladder to financial director, corporate controller, or even chief financial officer (CFO).

What Education You Need: Accounting Degree and Certification

A college degree and certification are almost essential for advancement and a long term career in accounting. A bachelor's degree in accounting or a finance related topic is a solid start, and earning a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential furthers your employability prospects. You can even take it a step-further by earning a specialized certification such as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), or other credential. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants reports on a survey finding that candidates with a professional certification can earn 10% more than other accountants. A graduate degree can also help you stand out from the crowd.