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General Accountant: Job Outlook & Requirements

General accountants ensure that businesses and individuals have their financial statements up-to-date. It is the responsibility of a general accountant to stay current on tax regulations and make sure that taxes are paid correctly and on time. Read on to learn about the education requirements, salary and employment outlook for this occupation.

Career Definition for a General Accountant

General accountants are experts in analyzing and preparing financial documents and reports, such as tax returns, income statements and balance sheets. Accountants keep track of the money coming in and the money going out. General accountants may work for companies or individuals to ensure that taxes are paid accurately and on time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, some general accountants work as consultants and advise companies on employee health benefits, data-processing systems and financial safeguards.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in accounting, MBA recommended
Necessary Skills Mathematical and analytical skills, communication, organization, technology, stress management
Median Salary (2015)* $67,190 (for all accountants and auditors)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 11% (for all accountants and auditors)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

General accountants are required to graduate with a bachelor's degree in accounting. Many businesses prefer that an applicant graduate with a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with an emphasis in accounting. Most states require that a student complete a set number of semester hours in accounting while in school to be eligible for certification. All prospective general accountants must pass the four-part Uniform CPA Exam in order to become certified. General accountants need to continue their education throughout their career by staying current on new tax laws and regulations.

Skills Required

General accountants must have strong mathematical and analytical skills. Accountants need to have excellent communication skills, which include both written and oral skills, in order to work with clients and explain financial situations. General accountants need to be organized and have computer skills. General accountants need to be able to handle the stress of meeting important tax and payroll deadlines.

Economic and Career Outlook

Careers for prospective general accountants are expected to rise in the upcoming years, with 11% growth from 2014-2024, because of the increase in new businesses around the globe. Tax laws are expected to become more regulated and more confusing to non-accounting professionals, which will open up opportunities for general accountants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $67,190 per year in 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become an accountant will help prepare you for careers in other areas.

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerk

For those interested in accounting but wishing to enter the workforce more quickly, this position might be a good fit. With only a high school diploma or associate's degree, these clerks can learn their skills on the job for taking care of the financial records of organizations. The BLS anticipates an 8% employment decline from 2014-2024. In 2015, these professionals enjoyed an annual median wage of $37,250, per the BLS.

Cost Estimator

By earning a bachelor's degree, cost estimators can be qualified to collect and analyze information for estimating the time and cost necessary for manufacturing products. Faster than average job growth of 9% was predicted by the BLS for this career, from 2014-2024. Cost estimators earned an average salary in 2015 of $60,390 per year, the BLS reported.

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