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What is an accountant?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Accountant

Accountants are employed by businesses and other organizations to report their financial results according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and income tax regulations. Hence, accountants are employed by manufacturers, retailers, financial institutions, public utilities, government agencies, accounting firms, hospitals, etc.

Qualifications Needed

An accountant will have a college degree with a major in accounting. The college degree consists of at least 10 accounting courses and 8 other business courses. (Some accountants become certified public accountants or CPAs by earning at least 150 college credits, passing the rigorous CPA Exam, and having several years of experience.)

Annual Salary of Accountant

The annual salary range for a full-time non-CPA accountant with a four-year accounting degree can range from $40,000 to $80,000+. The reasons for the wide pay range include the company’s size and industry, supply and demand for accountants in the company’s geographic area, the responsibilities of the accountant, the accountant’s prior experience, and more.

Duties of an Accountant

Accountants are likely to be involved in some aspect of maintaining a company’s general ledger which is the source of the amounts reported in the company’s financial statements. Hence, the accountants are likely to oversee the following:

  • Billing and accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • Payroll
  • Adjusting entries to comply with the accrual basis of accounting
  • Fixed asset accounting
  • Cost accounting
  • Budgeting and profit planning, and more

Common titles for accountants include corporate accountant, chief accountant, controller, assistant controller, general ledger accountant, and more.

Accountants employed at accounting firms assist their clients with accounting systems, financial statements, income tax filings, and general business consulting.

Typically accountants are also responsible for training and supervising accounting clerks and new accountants.

Learn more about a career in accounting.

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Certificate - Debits and Credits
Certificate - Adjusting Entries
Certificate - Financial Statements
Certificate - Balance Sheet
Certificate - Income Statement
Certificate - Cash Flow Statement
Certificate - Working Capital
Certificate - Financial Ratios
Certificate - Bank Reconciliation
Certificate - Payroll Accounting

About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

Learn More About Harold

Certificates of

Certificates of Achievement

We now offer 10 Certificates of Achievement for Introductory Accounting and Bookkeeping:

  • Debits and Credits
  • Adjusting Entries
  • Financial Statements
  • Balance Sheet
  • Income Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Working Capital and Liquidity
  • Financial Ratios
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Payroll Accounting
Badges and Points
  • Work towards and earn 30 badges
  • Earn points as you work towards completing our course
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