There are many different careers in accounting ranging from entry-level accounting to the CFO of a company. To get a position with more responsibility and a higher salary, it is necessary to have a degree in accounting and achieve various professional designations.
One of the major milestones in any accountant’s career is becoming a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. To become a CPA you need to study main accounting. You must also pass the national CPA exam. There is also some work experience required in a CPA firm. This is generally one to two years, although this varies from state to state. Once you have met all of these requirements, you get a certificate designating you as a CPA and you are allowed to offer your services to the public.
Many CPAs see this as just a stepping stone to their career. The chief accountant in many offices is called a controller. The controller is responsible for managing the entire accounting system of the company by keeping abreast of accounting and tax laws to maintain company law and is responsible for preparing the financial statements.
The controller is also responsible for financial planning and budgeting. Some companies have only one accounting professional who is basically the head cook and bottle washer and does everything. As companies grow in size and complexity, additional staffing levels are required to handle the volume of work that comes with growth. Other areas of the company are also affected by growth and it is part of the controller’s job to determine how much more salary the company can pay for other people without negatively impacting growth and profits.
Controllers are also responsible for preparing corporate tax returns; a much more complicated and complicated task than filling out a personal income tax form! In larger organizations, the controller may report to the VP of Finance who reports to the Chief Financial Officer, who is responsible for overall growth and profit goals and implementing appropriate strategies to achieve the goals.