Job Title: CPA, Accountant
Type of Company: A general practice accounting firm.
Education: MST, Bentley College
Previous Experience: I worked at a corporation as a private accountant for five years and as a public accountant for the next 17 years. I have had my own firm for the last eight years.
Job Tasks: We have three very busy times of year: tax season from January to May, when we prepare tax returns for individuals and businesses. We meet with the client to make sure we capture all the deductions that the tax law allows. At this time of year most of our clients come to us for the services. Mostly everything is done on a computer, including calculations and research. We also file all returns electronically and keep our clients' files in a digital file cabinet.
Next comes the audit of non-profits from June to November, when we go out to the companies and verify their financial data so that banks and shareholders can rely on the information to make financial decisions. This can be more of a check-and-tick kind of job, but it is sometimes very interesting. We don't go out looking for fraud but we keep an eye open for the possibility and follow the accounting trail.
After this we use December to prep for the next year. In between I help clients with specific problems concerning money issues, buying or selling homes or businesses and deaths in the family, and I brief them too about what they need to know about taxes and such. A client changing jobs needs to know how it will affect him for the next tax year; another client may be looking to start a new company and needs advice on how to set things up; and a third client might need help with an IRS or state audit.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of the job is the long hours during tax season and keeping up with changes in the industry.
The best is helping a small company turn itself around, finding a tax deduction that a client didn't know he could use and saving him lots of money, or helping someone start a new business and sell it a few years later for more money than he could ever have thought possible. We have a lot of good parts to our job.
Job Tips: My job is very rewarding but I work hard everyday. Our industry is changing and almost everything we do involves the computers these days. Make sure that you have good computer skills. Don't be afraid to try different things. You may start off doing taxes or audits but find out that you want to specialize in helping retired clients manage their assets or only deal with businesses as opposed to individuals. If you start out in public accounting, you get a feel for a lot of different jobs in business and you may discover a great corporate job while working for a client.
Additional Thoughts: I found out that I love working with people and numbers and I love working on my own. If you don't like working independently then this may not be a good job for you. It's not the numbers but sometimes just learning how to read an individual that leads to the right path when working in business. In my job I ask a lot of questions; if you don't like people this is not a job for you.
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