Job Title: Tax Accountant/ CPA
Type of Company: I work for a regional public accounting firm of about 55 people.
Education: BA, Math & Economics, Wesleyan University MS, Public Accounting, University of Hartford
Previous Experience: I began my career at a large public accounting firm where I remained for three years. I then went to a smaller one for three, working on the audit side. I left to become a controller of a computer services company, then came back to public accounting on the tax side where I have been for the past nine.
Job Tasks: I work as a tax manager for a small accounting firm of 55 people. My clients are made up of various businesses and their owners: hospitals, manufacturers, law firms, consultancies, inventors and retailers. I help them prepare financial statements, which tell them how much money they are making and how well they are doing overall. I work with many small businesses and their owners; you get to know them and what their needs are from year-to-year. I enjoy helping my clients analyze their businesses and try to minimize their taxes so that they can keep money in their companies in order to pay their bills and grow. I have always liked working with numbers and math so accounting comes very easily to me. It's the tax law that is hard to keep up with and is very challenging. I work more hours during tax season (from January to April 15, usually on Saturdays or Sundays) and the rest of the year I work 30 hours per week. This is a good job if you have children and need a flexible schedule -- though that also depends on the firm you work for.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is that it never gets boring. Something new is always happening with your clients, your firm or the tax law. You always have opportunities to learn and take on more work if you want to. You learn about all different types of industries and companies and different jobs, so that if you don't like public accounting, you will be exposed to lots of other kinds of jobs which you may be better suited for. Accounting is a great basic skill for anyone who wants to go into business.
The worst part of the job is when clients get mad at me when I tell them how much they owe in taxes. I feel like telling them that I did not pass the law requiring them to pay so much; I'm just doing the calculations. I also wish they would be more grateful that they are making so much money they have to pay taxes. Many struggling companies would love to have that problem!
Job Tips: This is a good job for anyone who likes math and is interested in business.
Try to take the CPA exam as soon as possible after you are qualified to take it. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to forget everything you learned in school.
Becoming a CPA is a good starting point for many other kinds of careers.
Additional Thoughts: People tend to think that accountants are nerdy, or they just sit in a back office and "crunch numbers", but this is not true at all. You need to interact with many people on a daily basis. It is an interesting and fun profession, you meet lots of other people of all ages and have many opportunities. Many of my close friends are accountants and I enjoy working with very smart and interesting people, and doing different things every day.
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