Exploring some common misperceptions about Accounting

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A misconception which has been widely spread throughout the people concerning the type of job an accountant can have. Many think that an accountant is simply a person who calculates numbers and record them in a book which is bookkeeping of a business and that's it. However accounting is more than that, although an accountant prepares what is called financial statements, he/she also is involved in decision making and tracking the financial performance of the business. In this research we will list and discuss the different types of jobs an accountant can occupy specify the job's requirements, skills, work time and of course salary.

2. Accounting Careers

Some of accounting careers are: public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, internal auditing, compliance executive, financial analyst, staff accountant, and external auditors.

2.1 Public Accounting:

Public accountants provide a wide range of accounting services like: auditing, tax, and consulting activities for their clients, which may be individuals, governments, or corporations. For instance, a public accountant, after preparing financial statements, can show the client the advantages and disadvantages of their business plans and make an advice in order to have more beneficial and profitable financial track.

One important aspect must be stated when talking about public accounting which is CPA or Certified Public Accountant. Although CPA exam is not a must for working in accounting jobs for some companies, it is highly recommended. Nowadays CPA exam is so important since it shows that its holder is qualified and certified as public accountant which first will open to him wide range of job opportunities, and second will definitely guarantee its holder higher salary than a normal accountant.

Another type of public accountant is Forensic Accountant who specializes in investigating and interpreting accounting frauds Forensic accountants must have knowledge of accounting and finance and law. The working hours are 40-48 hours a week and salary is from $40,000 to $ 100,000 per year.

2.2 Management Accounting:

Management accountants record and analyze the financial information of the companies for which they work. They are part of executive team in the company that is responsible in planning like: budgeting, cost, performance, management evaluation, and asset management. They also prepare financial reports for stockholders, creditors, and tax authorities, cost analysis, analysis of new contracts and plan to control expenses efficiently. The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA), states "A management accountant applies his or her professional knowledge and skill in the preparation and presentation of financial and other decision oriented information in such a way as to assist management in the formulation of policies and in the planning and control of the operation of the undertaking." Management accountants work for 8-hours a day and have salary from $65,000 to $140,000.

2.3 Government Accounting:

Government accountants work in the public sector and within the government maintaining and examining its financial records .Moreover they audit private industries and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. They work 50 hours per week and their salary range is from $70,000 to $ 80,000.

2.4 Internal Auditor:

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) stated that internal auditing is "an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization's operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes." The internal auditor must check for frauds, and evaluate company operations according to the government regulations. In order to become an internal auditor a CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) certification is needed. To be qualified to an internal auditor, a bachelor's degree and two years of experience is required. The salary range is from $77,500 to $101,500.

2.5 Financial Analyst:

Financial analysts work is to analyze a company or firm's financial statements and commodity prices. Knowledge on taxation rates is a must for a financial analyst. The salary is from$74,000 to $90,000.

Most of the accounting jobs are done in an office environment, like a bank, company, etc...However traveling may be required in some cases. To work as an accountant must has a degree in Accounting from a university, and as mentioned before CPA,CIA and other certification are important in order to get better jobs and good salary.

3. Highest-Paying Jobs and Prominent Accountants

3.1 Highest-Paying Jobs

3.1.1 Top Auditor:

The difference between top auditor and normal auditor is that top auditor is required to develop, direct and administer the organization's internal audit program in order to determine and evaluate the accuracy of records and efficiency of operations. Annual salary range is from $100,000 to $300,000.

3.1.2 Certified Financial Accountant (CFA):

CFA is responsible for preparing financial statements and reports and contacting the accounting departments. Moreover CFA study carefully the statements in order to advice the company where it is heading and whether its business is profitable or not. The salary range is more than $100,000 per year.

3.2 Prominent Accountants:

3.2.1 Walter Morgan (July 23, 1898-September 2, 1998): founder of the Wellington Fund, the first and one of the oldest balanced mutual funds that still exist till today. Moreover he was the youngest CPA in Pennsylvania. Before he died he was known for being the oldest living accountant and CPA.

3.2.2 John Grisham (February 8, 1955-present): In 1977, he got his Bachelor degree in accounting from Mississippi State University. Before becoming a writer, he was a successful lawyer and politician. Nowadays he is best known for his popular legal thrillers. As of 2008, his books have sold over 250 million copies worldwide. He was well known in the accounting career after his publication of two novels; ''The Firm'' and ''A Time to Kill''.

3.2.3 Walter E. Diemer (January 8 1905-January9 1998): He started as an accountant for Fleer Company which makes gums. He was famous for inventing of what is known today of bubble gum. Diemer used to experiment with gum recipes, and one day and by accident he invented a unique recipe for bubble gum. He soon became vice president of Fleer and focused on management accounting and teaching salesmen how to blow bubbles in order to show that this gum is unique and different of other chewing gums.

3.2.4 Kenneth Bruce Gorelick or Kenny G (June 5, 1956-present): a famous soprano saxophone player. He is a Grammy winning American .He started playing the saxophone when he was 10 years old. He got his bachelor degree in Accounting with Magna Cum Laude (which is with great honor from the University of Washington .

3.2.5 Hikmat Sleem: A CPA in USA and Lebanon. Moreover he is managing partner of "Hikmat Sleem and Associates" .A firm which provide a service of internal and external audit, tax and many more services in Lebanon and the region.

4. Interviews:

Two interviews were conducted concerning the concept of accounting. The first one was with Mrs. Maha Hamad, Manager of students' accounts receivable at AUB, and the other with Mr. Nabih Saddy, Head Accountant at Fransabank. We asked them about their work type, their opinion of accounting and what advice would they give to students majoring or thinking about accounting.

Maha Hamad answered that her work is in revenue and expense distribution and allocation. Each month they distribute the revenues. As for the allocation of expenses, her job is in the reconciliation and closing of calculations, and of course all of this is done using the income statement to make sure no errors are found. Moreover her work is like the connection between departments and registrar office, the she posts the changes in fees on AUBSIS.

Maha used to work 10 hours per day when she was an accountant but now she's been promoted to accountant manager and work 8 hours/day. She makes $40,000/year with benefits. Maha added that work is work and free time is free time, so when her work time is over, free time begins.

Concerning Nabih Saddy who is Head Accountant at Fransabank.Nabih stated that an accountant must have knowledge in accounting enough to meet eh local and international accounting standards. Moreover Nabih emphasis that an accountant must be able to analyze the financial statements, knows the laws of taxation, etc.

As for his type of work, Nabih answered his job is in assessment and analyzing the financial statement of the company, consulting and advising and preparing for audits.

As for different positions a senior accountant can occupy, Nabih said he/she can be internal auditor, external auditor, Income tax controller and CPA.

Nabih work for 10hrs/day and make $60,000-$70,000 per year, and advice each student to have basic knowledge of accounting because it is used in our daily life.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, we saw how Accounting is a major with vast and variety of job careers. It is not bookkeeping, it is more than that. So when considering accounting/finance it is better to do some research and most importantly ask other accountants.