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5-Step Guide to Becoming an Accountant

Steve Berman, LedgerLink

Step 3: Decide what type of accountant you’d like to be


Part math whiz, part detective, the world of an accountant can be a varied and interesting one. While there are several different types of accountants, they generally fall into four broad groups: public accountants, management accountants, government accountants and internal auditors. So what accounting field is right for you?

Public accounting is the broadest field in accounting. Public accountants includes bookkeepers, consultants, tax advisors, auditors and forensic accountants, who investigate and analyze criminal activities such as fraud or embezzlement.

Management accountants analyze financial data for companies, and are directly involved in the way companies plan, budget and maximize expenditures. Management accountants are often responsible for drafting reports that are only seen internally by company management.

Government accountants are public accountants who work for government agencies or businesses that are subject to governmental regulations. Similar to forensic accountants, Government accountants and auditors are financial watchdogs in many cases. Many work for the Internal Revenue Service.

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Internal Auditors are employed by organizations to analyze their company’s business activities, concentrating on the detection of internal inefficiencies, fraud and other criminal activities. Internal auditors advise the executive team on how to better operate the company, and even on how to more efficiently utilize information technology.

To determine what type of accountant you should be, ask yourself what type of career path you’d like to tread. If you’d prefer to deal with a variety of work environments and situations, public accounting may be right for you. If you’d rather stay within one company for a longer period of time, management accounting or internal auditing might be the way to go. If you’re a highly ethical individual who relishes the chance to investigate business practices, forensic accounting, government accounting or internal auditing could all be great choices. Which classes you thrive in and enjoy the most during your accounting education could have quite a bit to do with which road you choose, too!