Should I Become a Fund Accountant?
Fund accountants primarily work with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or public educational institutions or systems to ensure accountability. These professionals separate resources into various categories, known as funds, to show how these funds are being utilized. Their duties might include deciding what can be done with available resources, maintaining proper documentation related to the use of funds, and determining if resources are being used in the most efficient and effective manner.
Accountants, including fund accountants, usually work by themselves on a full-time basis. Overtime is common, especially during tax season. Accountants typically work in an office setting, sometimes in their own homes. The job can be stressful and fast-paced, depending on the employer and the season. Fund accountants may be required to travel locally to fund owners' locations.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Licensure and Certification||Certification required in some instances; many employers prefer candidates with the CPA designation|
|Experience||1-3 years of experience typically required|
|Key Skills||Math skills; organizational skills; attention to detail; skills with QuickBooks, Geneva, and Microsoft|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$67,190 (for accountants)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings (November 2012)
Now let's check out the career steps for fund accountants.
Step 1: Complete the Necessary Education
Typically, accountant positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. In addition to general education courses, bachelor's candidates in these programs will likely complete classes in cost, financial, and managerial accounting, as well as auditing and assurance. On the graduate level, students can pursue a master's degree in accounting or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting. Master's classes might cover fund accounting, as well as budgetary procedures.
Current accountants who want to work as fund accountants might choose to enroll in a certificate program in fund accounting to gain a greater understanding of nonprofit and government accounting practices. These programs might include courses in accounting theory, accounting systems, and fund accounting.
To really stand out, complete an internship. An internship with an accounting firm or a nonprofit agency's accounting department can provide real-world experience that could prove useful for securing a job upon graduation. Many accounting positions require at least one year of experience. Accounting interns might assist in performing audits, creating financial statements, and communicating with clients.
Step 2: Gain Experience in the Field
Online job postings showed that the majority of employers of fund accountants required experience. A prospective fund accountant might start out as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or entry-level accountant.
Step 3: Become a Certified Public Accountant
Qualifying for the Uniform CPA Examination typically requires completion of a degree program with a set number of credit hours, as well as work experience; however, requirements vary by state. This exam has four parts, and many states allow individuals to complete one section at a time, as long as all sections are cleared within 18 months.
Step 4: Pursue Career Advancement
With enough experience, accountants can advance to supervisory or management roles. Experienced accountants may also open their own accounting firms.
To recap, with a bachelor's degree, experience, and a CPA, a fund accountant can earn about $67,000 to work with government agencies, non-profit organizations, or public educational institutions or systems to ensure accountability.