Do you want to pursue a career in accounting? While many people think of accounting as one "catch-all" term for all things bookkeeping and financial, accounting actually has a wide variety of focuses. Generally, these smaller sub-groups fall into one of three main categories. These are corporate accounting, government accounting, and public accounting. Here are some good reasons to choose each.
Businesses need accounting staff to keep their books. This is what corporate accounting personnel do for their employers. Within corporate accounting, you will find many day-to-day tasks involving accounts payable (writing checks), accounts receivable (billing customers), general ledger accounting, cost accounting, and tax accounting for the business.
Many people learn to do some of these important roles, eventually moving up to supervisory and managerial positions and seeking greater levels of accounting education. You keep the business operating, help ensure it makes a profit, and contribute to keeping your fellow employees employed.
Government accounting performs a number of the same types of lower-level jobs as corporate accounting, including payables and receivables but for government and quasi-governmental agencies. But it also may include different needs, such as unique budget planning requirements or grant funding responsibilities.
Government accountants and their staff are responsible not only to the agency for which they work but also to the tax paying public. There can be a distinct sense of responsibility and satisfaction in helping the community through their efforts. This feeling of contribution to society along with a tendency toward more stability in their jobs helps make up for times when the pay may not be equal to the private sector.
A public accountant works outside the corporate structure to provide contracted services, such as planning and tax preparation. But they also serve as a sort of "check and balance" to internal corporate or government accounting. A public accountant might perform an audit on a company for their lender. They may certify the financial statements of a publicly traded company. Or they may help a potential partner vet a new investment.
Public accountants have the most freedom since they don't work for a particular organization. They can choose which clients to take and which services to offer. And no matter whether they work with small businesses or large ones, they can have a big hand in keeping the company in good financial health.
Which type of accounting is right for you? There is no single answer as it all depends on your goals, your interests, and your personality. Want to learn more about any particular area of specialty? Start by meeting with a counselor at an accounting school in your area today.