1.6. Considering Accounting Careers

In our highly developed economy, many people make their living as accountants — and here I'm using the term accountant in the broadest possible sense. If you look in the Statistical Abstract of the United States you'll see that upwards of 2 million people make their living as bookkeepers, accountants, and auditors. They work for businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other organizations and associations.

Because accountants work with numbers and details, you hear references to accountants as bean counters, digit heads, number nerds, and other names I don't dare mention here. Accountants take these snide references in stride and with good humor. Actually, accountants rank among the most respected professionals in many polls.

1.6.1. Certified public accountant (CPA)

In the accounting profession, the mark of distinction is to be a CPA, which stands for certified public accountant. The term public means that the person has had some practical experience working for a CPA firm; it does not indicate whether that person is presently in public practice (as an individual CPA or as an employee or partner in a CPA firm that offers services to the public at large) rather than working for one organization. For example, I have a CPA certificate in Colorado, but I'm on inactive status because I have retired and do not offer my services to the public.

To become a CPA, you go to college, graduate with an accounting major in a five-year ...

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