What Does A Public Accountant Do?

Here are the duties and responsibilities that a Public Accountant is likely to perform in their role.

  • Manage and monitor accounting procedures for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and coordinate and facilitate external audit requirements.
  • Review and compile quarterly and annual financial statements on GAAP, cash, accrual, and tax basis.
  • Generate financial statements according to GAAP regulations.
  • Handle tax matters with the IRS for clients and business owners.
  • Assist clients with IRS correspondence, accounting and recording business transactions.
  • Perform accounting duties for CPA firm, bookkeeping, taxes, etc.
  • Automate clients' accounting system to QuickBooks resulting in reduce expenses and errors.
  • Reduce time and costs and increase efficiency by introducing new accounting procedures and implementing the use of QuickBooks software.
  • Help business owners, LLC members, and partnerships with strategic planning, tax planning, and accounting services.
  • Complete individual and corporate tax returns in Lacerte
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Public Accountant Traits
Analytical skills
Analytical skills have to do with gathering information from various sources and then interpreting the data in order to reach a logical conclusion that benefits the business.
Math skills
Math skills include being able to perform basic addition and subtraction, as well as solving for the unknown and visualizing data that will be helpful in the workplace.
Communication skills
Communication skills shows that you are able to relay your thoughts, opinions and ideas clearly to those around you.

Public Accountant Overview

Compared to other jobs, public accountants have a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 6% between the years of 2018 - 2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of public accountant opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 90,700.

Public accountants typically earn $57,135 annually, which breaks down to $27.47 an hour. However, public accountants can earn anywhere from upwards of $49,000 to $65,000 a year. This means that the top-earning public accountants make $16,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

Let's say you're currently a public accountant, but maybe you're looking for a new opportunity. You may even be playing around with the idea of becoming a public accountant. If that's the case, you'll probably want to know how these roles compare to other positions. Luckily, you came to the right place. Here, you'll find extensive information on roles such as an account auditor, finance analyst/accountant, accountant internship, and accountant/consultant just so you can compare job roles and responsibilities. We'll explain how these compare to public accountants in a bit.

Public Accountant Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 17% of Public Accountants are proficient in Financial Statements, CPA, and Tax Compliance. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Math skills, and Communication skills.

We break down the percentage of Public Accountants that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Financial Statements, 17%

    Compiled financial statements and prepared corporate and individual tax returns* Clients included small retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, and service companies

  • CPA, 17%

    Assisted JMA Chartered and Terri Winters CPA with multiple projects.

  • Tax Compliance, 17%

    Managed financial reporting department responsible for financial statements, tax compliance and various financial reports, including budgets and variance analysis.

  • Internal Controls, 9%

    Worked with clients to build internal controls, set up accounting software and write policies for their company.

  • Real Estate, 7%

    Managed monthly/annual closings, billing and collection of manufacturing coupon receivables, trade marketing contract reporting and real estate subsidiary accounting.

  • Payroll, 7%

    Provided customer support including verifying checks and answering questions relative to account balances and payroll status.

Financial statements, cpa, and tax compliance aren't the only skills public accountants have. In fact, there's a whole list of personality traits that are commonly seen among them, including:

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a public accountant to have happens to be analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. A public accountant can use analytical skills to provided analysis to ensure compliance with gaap, sec reporting requirements, and corporate policies.
  • Another commonly found skill for a public accountant is the following: math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary. Check out this example of how public accountants use math skills: "performed all mics machine accounting statistics and chargeback."
  • Public accountants are also known for communication skills, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others An example of how this skill is put to the test is, "initiated & facilitated communication and meetings as company expert and spokesperson for a new accounting software developed especially for small businesses."
  • It's essential that a public accountant have detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation. Detail oriented is extremely important for public accountants to have. As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "reviewed and analyzed financial statements, invoices and accounts receivable, paying close attention to detail."
  • Yet another important skill that a public accountant must demonstrate is the following: organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors, who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients. This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a public accountant who stated: "drafted and filed organizational documents for llcs, partnerships and corporations for out of country and out of state non-profits."
  • See the full list of public accountant skills.

    Over half of public accountants have graduated with a bachelor's degree. In fact, it seems 64.5% of people who became a public accountant earned a bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree roughly 22.2% in this career have them. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it seems it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most public accountants have a college degree. But about one out of every nine public accountants didn't attend college at all.

    The public accountants who went onto college to earn a more in-depth education generally studied accounting and business, while a small population of public accountants studied finance and legal research and advanced professional studies.

    View more details on public accountant salaries across the United States.

    Salaries aside, the most respected public accountants are working at Ernst & Young, Robert Half International, and Deloitte. By assessing which schools public accountants mainly earn their degrees, and comparing that with the companies that have hired a significant number of public accountants from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, we're able to determine the most prestigious companies.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious public accountants are:

      What Account Auditors Do

      Let's see how account auditor compares. We'll first look at the salary differences. On average, account auditors are paid $10,212 higher than public accountants per year.

      Even though public accountants and account auditors have vast differences in their careers, the skills required to do both jobs are similar. Just as an example, both careers require financial statements, cpa, and tax compliance in the day-to-day roles.

      As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a public accountant also must be experienced in skills such as gaap, tax season, corporate clients, and annual reports. Whereas a account auditor is skilled in income, accounts receivables, insurance companies, and medicaid. So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

      Account auditors receive the highest salaries in the finance industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $80,069. But public accountants are paid more in the finance industry with an average salary of $67,598. The differences don't stop there. Next stop, education.

      The education of account auditors is a bit different than the education of public accountants in that they tend to reach similar levels of education. Account auditors are 2.7% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a public accountant. Additionally, they're 0.2% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Finance Analyst/Accountant?

      Now we'll compare finance analyst/accountants, which averages a higher salary of $6,458 higher than public accountants a year.

      While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's the skills they need. Both public accountants and finance analyst/accountants are known to have skills such as financial statements, cpa, and tax compliance.

      In addition to the difference in salary, there are some other key differences that are worth noting. For example, a public accountant is more likely to have skills in real estate, journal entries, small business, and tax season, while a typical finance analyst/accountant is skilled in areas such as external auditors, special projects, erp, and variance analysis. These differences highlight just how different the day-to-day in each role looks.

      While we already know that finance analyst/accountants earn higher, we took a step further to see what industry these workers typically make the most. Interestingly, finance analyst/accountants earn the most pay in the finance industry with an average salary of $68,688. Whereas, public accountants have higher paychecks in the finance industry where they earn an average of $67,598.

      When it comes to education, finance analyst/accountants tend to reach higher levels of education than public accountants. In fact, they're 14.4% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How an Accountant Internship Compares

      An accounting intern is responsible for assisting an organization's accounting department, observing practical applications and processes, and performing accounting duties under the supervision of tenured accounting staff. Accounting interns support the accounting operations by preparing and organizing financial reports, helping with accounts reconciliation, researching financial and stock market trends, utilizing various accounting software, and managing feedback from their mentors. An accounting intern must be detail-oriented and a fast-learner, immediately adjusting to the company's culture and actively cooperating with the team to ensure a smooth flow of operations.

      Coming in at the third comparison is accountant interns. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower dough than public accountants with a lower pay of $15,560 per year.

      Public accountants and accountant interns both have similar skills such as financial statements, cpa, and tax compliance, but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

      There are actually many key differences between the two careers, including other skills each role requires. As an example of this, a public accountant is likely to be skilled in internal controls, real estate, tax season, and sox, while a typical accountant internship is skilled in account management, powerpoint, r, and competitive analysis. These skills show how different the two job titles can be within the day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

      Accountant interns make a very good living in the finance industry, where they make the highest salary of roughly $55,485. Whereas public accountants are paid the highest salary in the finance industry with the average being $67,598.

      Is less better than more? Maybe in some cases, but when you're talking about accountant interns they typically study at lower levels than public accountants. In fact, they're 8.3% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.6% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of an Accountant/Consultant

      Next up off the bench for comparison are accountant/consultants. In this career, workers tend to earn a higher pay than public accountants by about $633 per year.

      Both professions of public accountants and accountant/consultants use skills such as financial statements, cpa, and tax compliance within their day-to-day roles.

      This is where the similarities find their end though. Each job requires different skills like real estate, tax season, sox, and non-profit organization, which can be used by a public accountant. Then on the other side of things, accountant/consultant uses skills like account consultant, account management, product knowledge, and customer service. Based on these skills, you can truly appreciate the difference between the two careers.

      In general, accountant/consultants make a higher salary in the telecommunication industry with an average of $75,640.

      When it comes to education, these two careers couldn't be more different. For example, accountant/consultants typically reach similar levels of education than public accountants. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 3.0% less. Additionally, they're less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by a whopping 0.1%.