Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities for their clients, which may be corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, or individuals.
Some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, such as advising companies about the tax advantages and disadvantages of certain business decisions and preparing individual income tax returns. Others offer advice in areas such as compensation or employee healthcare benefits, the design of accounting and data processing systems, and the selection of controls to safeguard assets. Still others audit clients' financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported. These accountants are also referred to as external auditors. Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms.
Other public accountants specialize in forensic accounting—investigating and interpreting white-collar crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and possibly criminal financial transactions, including money laundering by organized criminals. Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine whether an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
5412A - Offices of Certified Public Accountants
Job Titles (Click a Job Title to view general job description)
- Audit Director - Public Accounting
- Tax Senior Accountant / Associate
- Audit Manager - Public Accounting
- Tax Staff Accountant / Associate
- Audit Senior Accountant / Associate
- Consulting Services Director
- Audit Staff Accountant / Associate
- Consulting Services Manager
- Tax Director - Public Accounting
- Consulting Services Senior Associate
- Tax Manager - Public Accounting
- Consulting Services Associate