One of the most common types of accounting, public accounting plays a major role in the financial industry and business activities in general. Most people will have some interaction with a public accountant at some point in their lives, and anyone who runs a business will require the services of a public accountant.

The primary duty of a public accountant involves verifying financial information. Whether for an individual or a company, a public accountant ensures that financial statements accurately reflect earnings and expenditures through the process of auditing. Within this broad framework, most accountants focus on a specific subspecialty, such as compensation and employee benefits, tax preparation, financial planning, or external auditing.

The majority of public accountants hold the Certified Public Accountant designation, or CPA. While not strictly necessary for an accounting career, the CPA exam provides a standard of quality that consumers rely on, and certain types of accounting require a CPA licensure, such as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Accountants certified as CPAs earn, on average, more than $20,000 more than those without the credential.

Employment prospects for public accountants are good. Job forecasts by the federal government predict 22 percent growth in the sector for the 10-year period between 2008 and 2018. The vast majority of public accountants work for larger firms, although self-employment opportunities also exist, and roughly eight percent of public accountants work for themselves.

Individuals interested in pursuing a career in public accounting should hold a Bachelor’s degree or better in Accounting, Finance, Economics, or a related discipline. Subsequently, most new accountants obtain entry-level positions in larger firms while they build the experience required for CPA licensure.

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About Alexander Pis-Dudot: The Senior Vice President of Accounting holds significant experience in a wide range of accounting tasks and responsibilities. He has worked as an accountant for more than 20 years.