Accountants and Auditors

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Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and Auditors - Preparation

To work as an accountant or auditor, you typically need to:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
  • have a bachelor's degree in accounting.

To work as a certified public accountant (CPA), you typically need to:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • complete a five-year, 150-credit hour accounting program (awards a bachelor's or master's degree);
  • have public accounting experience; and
  • pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Education after high school

Depending on the type of accounting you want to do, you can study for two to five years. Two-year programs prepare you for bookkeeper jobs. These programs are available at community colleges and private business schools.

A bachelor's degree in accounting prepares you for entry-level accounting or auditing jobs. In your four years of study, you take one year of accounting courses and one year of general business courses. You also take two years of liberal arts courses. These programs are available at many colleges and universities.

If you want to be a CPA, you need to complete an additional 30 hours of study in accounting. The extra courses prepare you to take the Uniform CPA Exam and to work independently as a public accountant.

Work experience

While in college, you can gain experience through summer or part-time internship programs.

Beginning public accountants generally work for a licensed CPA for at least a year. They do this to gain the experience required for the CPA license.

On-the-job training

After college, you work on routine tasks and are supervised by experienced accountants or auditors. As you gain experience, you are given more difficult tasks and more responsibility. In general, a beginning accountant receives up to 12 months of on-the-job training. An auditor generally receives one to two years of on-the-job training.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be finance and accounting managers. Training lasts two to 16 weeks. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. You must have a degree in accounting, finance, or a related field to enter this military occupation.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.