Before anyone can enjoy their first day as an accountant, a college degree must be achieved. To receive a Bachelor’s degree, a number of courses must be completed successfully. In California, this list includes:

  • Accounting, both Financial and Managerial
  • American Culture
  • Business and IT Environments
  • Business Communications
  • Business Finance
  • Business Operations
  • Business Writing
  • Calculus
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Exports-Imports Financing
  • Geography
  • Information Systems and Applications
  • Macroeconomics
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Microeconomics
  • Politics
  • Probabilities and Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Securities
  • Sociology
  • Writing

The coursework is generally hard for the majority of students, so people should not expect to breeze through college easily. In addition, before receiving the Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, all California students must pass the EWP (Examination in Writing Proficiency) with at least a 71%. Accountants constantly use basic math procedures to record debits and credits. Those who detest math will find that a career in accounting can be very tedious.

Getting Started

Proper college schooling only lands a person a degree. Many employers will not hire those with accounting degrees that have no actual work experience. It can be extremely tough to find a high-paying job right off the bat. An apprenticeship in college can help provide on-the-job training that can help land a good job after graduation. Other men and women holding a degree in accounting should expect to start on the lower-rung of a corporate ladder and work their way up. Starting salaries for an accountant average $40,000 in California. After a number years in the job, these salaries can rise to a little over $100,000. It is, however, rather difficult to afford suitable housing in many Californian cities on $40,000 a year. Any person interested in this career must learn to scrimp while starting out!

Specializing

Many accountants hold specialties in certain industries. For example, a construction accountant will have a general knowledge of construction terminology, the method in which construction projects go together, and general prices for equipment and supplies. General Ledger Accountants maintain the ledgers for a company. Tax accountants deal strictly with personal or business taxes. The same is true for the travel industry, entertainment, banking, and major corporations.

Accountants are responsible for keeping that specific company’s financial records current. Usually, companies hire an accountant and at least one helper. The accountant’s duties include:

  • Recording and maintaining all general ledger (records) of debits and credits (expenses and revenue.)
  • Budgeting money for supplies, salaries, and other necessary expenses, including emergencies, that are necessary to a business’s operations.
  • Handling all month end and year end financial reports.
  • Review and approve all financial transactions to ensure they are legal.
  • Hire and manage accounting staff.
  • Selecting and operating accounting software.
  • Keep financial information securely stored away and keep financial information private and out of conversations.

In addition, many companies require their accountants to help with weekly or bi-weekly payrolls, year end taxes, and often researching finance regulations and other financial issues is involved.

For those who are lucky enough, a travel agency accountant is very enjoyable and beneficial because of the job perks. Many accountants in a travel setting work the average 9 to 5 hours Monday through Friday and are eligible for travel discounts, including hotels, airfare, package vacations, and cruises, which makes it a highly sought after specialty. Take a look at the day in the life of an accountant for a travel agency:

Every Monday, an accountant in this type of business must gather up the previous week’s ticket sales and perform the ARC (Airline Recording Corporation) reports. This report tallies up all of the airline ticket sales and then the travel agency’s commissions, if any are involved, are reduced from the amount the travel agency then sends out to the ARC. While a travel agency is paid for the full ticket price for any airline ticket, only a portion of that money is legally theirs. If an airline offers a 5% commission on a ticket that cost $500, the travel agency only gets to keep $25 of that money. The rest is sent to the ARC to be distributed to the airlines.

During the rest of the week, accountants pay the bills, budget for upcoming expenses like rent, business supplies, and employee salaries. Many accountants in travel agencies also handle weekly payroll, business taxes, insurance plans, and customer refunds if necessary.

Accounting is an extremely rewarding career, though it does require a solid, four-year education. Those seeking the highest pay scale will need to finish their college degree and then study for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. This difficult and lengthy exam covers all aspects of accounting including legal issues, the basics, and more. The four exam sections take a total of fourteen hours and include Auditing & Attestation, Business Environment & Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulations. Many states are starting to look into making the CPA exam a mandatory step in becoming an accountant, so current uncertified accountants may want to look into the CPA soon.

View accounting programs in California.