During your college years, you will be faced with many important decisions on your career choice. Two critical questions you will have to answer will be: Which college major will you choose? And which career path will you pursue? This guide will try to give you the information you need to make these important decisions that will profoundly affect your professional and personal life.
Perhaps the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) summarized it best in its newly issued pamphlet: "Accounting: The One Degree with 360 Degrees of Possibilities": "You may already have an idea about what you want to do for a career. Then again, maybe you're not so sure. Either way, there's one degree that gives you the education to succeed at just about anything in the business world. It's an accounting degree. Accounting opens doors in every kind of business coast to coast. It can give you the foundation you need to go on and become a CPA. It can prepare you to become a partner in an accounting firm, to pursue a career in finance or corporate management, to work in government, or even to become an entrepreneur. In fact, no matter what you decide to do, having an accounting background can open doors wide."
The reason accounting may be the best route to a successful business career is because accounting has always been considered as the language and basic tool of business. It has always concerned itself with determining how a business is doing and what is the bottom line. But over the last two decades, the field of accounting has been changing dramatically in response to such explosive trends as the computer revolution, increased government regulations, frequent tax law changes, the globalization of business, and the on-going downsizing and restructuring of corporations. In this increasingly complex and competitive business environment, accounting skills are very much in demand and accounting has become a dynamic career. Accountants have shed their stodgy image of green eyeshade's and thick glasses to assume the more prestigious role of financial experts, system professionals, management consultants, budget analysts, etc.. The demand for accountants appears to be growing and outstripping supply. Job opportunities in today's business climate is better than ever for accountants.
These opportunities are particularly good for women. Women have generally done well in accounting. In the last decade and half, the number of women entering the accounting profession has almost doubled. In 1977, females made up 28 percent of all graduating accounting majors. Recently, according to an AICPA survey, there were more female accounting graduates than male (52 vs. 48 percent) and the gender breakdown of new accounting graduates hired by public accounting firms was 54 percent male and 46 percent female. There are now two national societies for women accountants, the American Society of Women Accountants and the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Once you have decided that accounting is your major, the next step is to choose which career path you will pursue. The varied job opportunities opened to accountants may be summarized into three major areas: public accounting, private accounting, and government and not-for profit accounting.
Public accounting firms provide auditing, tax, accounting, and consulting services to businesses and individuals. These firms range in size from single practitioner to large international firms with hundreds of offices worldwide and thousands of professionals. Accountants in these firms work with a variety of and companies and gain wide exposure and experience. At the same time, the job often involves pressure, travel, and seven-day workweeks.
A certified public accountant (CPA) is usually qualified to audit the traditional financial statements prepared by a company and render an opinion on the "firm presentation" and reasonableness of these financial statements. The independent auditor's opinion lends credibility to the company's financial statements and helps the users of these financial statements make their investment decisions. The auditor thus plays an important role in facilitating the smooth functioning of the investment process and the efficient allocation of resources in the economy.
To protect the public from individuals who are not qualified to express opinions on financial statements, all states impose strict licensing requirements for the practice of public accounting. A CPA license is required in most states to perform independent audits. The state boards of accountancy, which are the regulatory agencies for each state, set the requirements for licensing. To become a CPA and practice public accounting, there are generally four basic requirements:
Auditing (4.5 Hours)
Regulation (3 Hours )
Financial Accounting and Reporting (4 Hours)
Business Environment & Concepts (2.5 Hours)
Application to sit for the CPA exam must be made to your individual state board of accountancy. In California, write or call or Email to:
California State Board of Accountancy
2000 Evergreen Street, Suite 250
Sacramento, CA 95825
CPA firms generally offer the following types of services: auditing, income taxes, accounting and review, and consulting services.
Auditing is the most important function of the certified public accountant. International CPA firms and many national CPA firms devote a large percentage of their time and resources to financial statement auditing. Auditing fees account for 45~0% of their total revenues.
Accounting and Review Services
CPA firms, both large and small, perform a variety of accounting services for their clients. These services range from maintaining accounting records to performing compilation, that is preparing financial statements without providing any assurance on them. A form of limited assurance can be provided by a "review" which is more limited in scope than a full-blown financial statement audit.
CPA firms perform many tax services for their individual and corporate clients, including preparation and review of tax returns, tax planning (the legitimate avoidance or deferral of taxes), and tax litigation (appearance before a court or an administrative body on behalf of their clients).
The fastest growing area for CPA firms is management consulting services, which was formally known as management advisory services. These services can cover such wide-ranging fields as computer systems, management information systems, marketing, executive recruiting, personal financial planning, and budgeting techniques, etc..
Income Tax Planning and Preparation
Specializing in income tax preparation and planning is a very viable career path since taxation has such an pervasive effect on business decisions and on all aspects of our personal as well as professional life. If you want to work in the area of taxation, you may want to earn the E. A. (Enrolled Agent) designation or the master in taxation.
The Enrolled Agent Examination
An enrolled agent is a person who is qualified to prepare tax returns for a fee and can represent his/her client before the IRS for any audit, conference, hearings, and meetings (attorneys and CPAs are automatically eligible to practice before the IRS). There is no education requirement to take the E. A. Exam. The exam is open to anyone possessing the knowledge about the income tax laws and code. It is administered yearly by the IRS and is given over two days in September or October. It includes true-false and multiple-choice questions and consists of four parts covering the following tax areas:
To learn more about the exam, obtain Publication 1470 "Package For The Special Enrollment Examination" from the IRS District Office nearest you or by contacting the IRS Office of Director of Practice in Washington D.C. at (202) 535~809. Besides background material for the exam, this publication includes Form 2587 "Application For Special Enrollment Examination" and Form 41 90A "Special Enrollment Exam Study Material Request and Mailing Label."
Candidates are required to take all four parts when taking the examination for the first time. If you pass one, two, or three parts, you will be given credit for the part(s) you passed, but you must pass all four parts within a successive 2-year period or retake the exam in its entirety.
Once a candidate has successfully passed the exam, he/she has one year to apply for the E. A. designation which allows them to practice before the IRS. E.As must earn 72 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every three years.
(b) The Master of Taxation Degree
Another degree that tax accountants should consider earning is the Master of Business in Taxation (MBT). The master of taxation is a valuable graduate degree combining both theoretical and practical knowledge of taxation. Because of its in-depth coverage of taxation, it is highly valued by employers.
(c) The J. D. and LL .M. Degrees in Taxation
For those accountants with an interest in the legal aspects of income tax law, earning a post-graduate J. D. (Juris Doctor) degree or LL .M. (Master of Laws) degree in Taxation from a law school is highly recommended since they can then practice as tax attorneys and command higher fees or compensation.
There is a trend in public accounting toward specialization, both by industry, and by function. The future of the following specialties in accounting looks particularly promising:
Large Versus Small CPA Firms
Since being a CPA is an important credential for career advancement, and to be certified you must have audit experience with a CPA firm, many accounting graduates will most likely look for employment with a CPA firm. The question then is which type of firm is best to start with: large CPA firms such as the "Big Four" ( Deloitte & Touche LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG LLP, and Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP) and other well-known national firms, or a small to medium-sized local firm?
Conventional wisdom holds that at the start of your career you need the training, exposure, and prestige that large firms can give you. However, the disadvantage is that in the more structured environment of the large firms, you are faced with greater competitive pressure, also you run the risk of being stifled and/or being pigeonholed into a certain industry or area of audit.
The advantage of working in small firms is that you can learn more in a shorter period of time, and have the opportunity to see much sooner how the entire financial statement package fits together. It is, however, more difficult to generalize about the kind of training you will get and the kind of work you will do in small firms. In the end, what really matters is not so much the size of the firm, but the quality of the firm and your relationship with your immediate colleagues and the professionals you will work with.
Private Industry Accounting
If an accounting graduate does not want to go into public accounting, he can go into management and private industry accounting. Unlike public accounting, private industry accounting has no rigid minimum requirement. In private industry accounting, you work for one company and gain in-depth knowledge and experience in the accounting for that company. You prepare the financial information necessary to help management plan and control company activities. Thus, besides preparing financial statements for external reporting, you will also be working on many internal accounting reports, such as budgets and cost analyses, for the use of management.
Wide Variety of Career Paths
In private industry, your career path can take you from an accounting or management trainee to the top position in accounting and finance in a company. An accounting background and experience is highly appreciated in the top echelons of industry, and many CEO's and Presidents come from the accounting and finance department.
Another possible career path is to become an internal auditor for a company. The internal auditor works for the company and conducts an independent appraisal of the various departments and/or subsidiaries of the company to promote efficiency of operations and adherence to management's policies. Many companies use their internal audit department as a training ground for future executives. After a two-year stint in the internal audit department, the internal auditor has acquired valuable insight into the organization and operation of the company and is ready to move into higher management.
The Certificate in Management Accounting (CMA) is not required to work as a management accountant, however, it is an important credential for management accountants to have. This designation was first established in 1972 to recognize the special needs of management accountants. The CMA exam is sponsored by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and is given twice yearly in June and December. In some ways, this exam may be more difficult than the CPA exam because it covers a broader range of areas, among them economics, statistics, banking, and finance. The 5 parts of the exam are as follows:
To obtain an application and registration forms for the CMA exam, write to:
|The Institute of Management Accountants
10 Paragon Drive
Montvale, New Jersey 07645-0405
Tel. (201) 573-6300
The professional designation for an internal auditor is the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). This title was created in 1974 by the Institute of Internal Auditors. The CIA exam lasts 14 hours (four 3 1/2-hour parts) and covers the following areas:
To obtain registration and application forms for the CIA examination, write
|The Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc.
Certification Division 249
Maitland Avenue P.O.Box lll9
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 Tel. (407) 830-7600
The goal of the accounting department in a typical government agencies is to function within the budgetary constraints mandated by the legislature. Government accountants also monitor the appropriation of funds and awarding of contracts to private agencies that must follow governmental regulations.
Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies
More than 100,000 accountants in the U.S. work for the government in federal government agencies such as the General Accounting Office, the Internal Revenue Service, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, etc.. Many others work in state government agencies such as the Franchise Tax Board, the Board of Equalization, the Employment Development Department, etc...At the municipal level, there are also many job opportunities for accountants. These government jobs often offer high or at least competitive starting salaries, good fringes benefits, and better job security. Also, there is not the same degree of pressure on the job, making it easier to combine job and family demands. However, the disadvantage with government jobs is that it is often difficult to move back later on to public accounting or private industry.
Not-for-profit organizations are not organized to realize a profit on the goods or services they provide as their basic activity. Instead, they exist to provide goods or services considered socially desirable by and for the general public, a community, or its members. There are about 1.2 million tax-exempt organizations in the U.S. today and they cover the gamut of civic, religious, social, professional, scientific organizations, hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, and voluntary health and welfare organizations, etc...They range in size from local agencies to large organizations of national or international scope.
Career Paths in Governmental and Not-For- Profit Organizations
Governmental and not-for-profit organizations tend to have specialized accounting and reporting practices, often differing from those of profit-oriented enterprises. Accountants working in these organizations should be familiar with the peculiarities of not-for-profit accounting and the independent auditors should be knowledgeable in the special auditing standards applicable to not-for-profit organizations.
Membership and active participation in professional organizations is important to demonstrate your drive, commitment, and pride in the profession. The following are the main professional organizations in accounting:
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the central professional organization for CPAs. It continuously updates and refines the body of professional knowledge, regulates membership admission, innovates social responsibilities in emerging areas of practice, and polices the conduct of its members. It presently has about 320,000 members, with the majority of them in public accounting. Its monthly publication is the "Journal of Accountancy. " For information about the Institute's programs, write to:
|American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, N. Y. 10036-8775
At the state level, each state has a state society of CPAs. In California, the California Society of CPAs (CSCPA) is located at 275 Shoreline Drive, Redwood City, Ca. 94065-1412. Its telephone number is (415) 802-2600.
The National Association of Accountants (now the Institute of Management Accountants) was founded in 1919 to represent the interest of management accountants. It presently has more than 100,000 members and more than 350 chapters worldwide. Its monthly publication is "Management Accounting." The IMA's address is:
|Institute of Management Accountants
P.O. Box 433 10 Paragon Drive
Montvale, N. J. 07645
The American Accounting Association (AAA) was founded in 1916 and focuses its activities on accounting theory, research, and all phases of accounting education. It publishes a quarterly journal, "The Accounting Review." The AAA's address is:
|American Accounting Association
5717 Bessie Drive
Sarasota, FL 33583
The Institute of Internal Auditors was founded in 1941 to represent the interest of internal auditors. It established the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation in 1974, and publishes a quarterly magazine "The Internal Auditor." The IIA address is:
|Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc.
249 Maitland Avenue, Box 1119
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701-4201
Other professional associations:
|National Association of Black Accountants
3001 Street, N.E., Suite 107
Washington, DC 20002
|American Society of Women Accountants
35 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2250
Chicago, Il. 60601
|American Women's Society of CPA's
11 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 600
Chicago, IL. 60601
The business program at CSULB is one of the 280 programs (out of the more than 1200 business programs offered nationwide) that is accredited by the AACSB. This accreditation represents an independent, peer-based recognition of the quality of the CSULB business program.
CSULB graduates must have completed at least 51 semester units of General Education courses. The purpose of these courses is to help you develop and improve such basic life skills as creativity, critical thinking, self motivation, independence, an understanding of values, and a general philosophy by which to make decisions throughout life.
You must complete a minimum of 15 general education units in the following
|Human Diversity Courses|
|U.S. Constitution and American Ideals|
|Total General Education units:|
The remaining 36 units of general education can be taken from courses listed in the CSULB catalogue as general education courses. These courses concentrate on the following areas:
To graduate with an accounting degree from CSULB, you must complete a total of 121 units (124 units for all other options). Of these, a minimum of 30 units must be completed at CSULB, with at least 24 of these units in upper division courses and 12 of the upper division units must be in business.
Two of the core requirements are accounting courses: Elementary Financial Accounting at the lower division and Managerial Accounting in the upper division.
|Accounting 201 - Elementary Financial Accounting||
|Economics 100 - Principles of Microeconomics||
|Economics 101 - Principles of Macroeconomics||
|Finance 220 - Introduction to Law and Business Transactions||
|Information Systems 233 - Introduction to Computer Systems and Applications||
|Mathematics 114 - Finite Mathematics||
|Mathematics 115B - Calculus for Business||
|Philosophy 160 - Introductory Ethics
|Total upper division units:||
The lower division accounting course, Elementary Financial Accounting, is the first course in accounting for all students including those majoring in accounting. This course introduces you to the basic principles and focuses on external accounting reporting and external users of accounting information. Many of the basic accounting principles introduced in this course pervade many other accounting courses. Consequently, Elementary Financial Accounting is a prerequisite for all other upper division accounting courses. We recommend that you achieve sophomore standing before enrolling in Elementary Financial Accounting.
|Accounting 320 - Cost Accounting||
|College of Business Administration 300 -International Business||
|Economics 333 - Managerial Economics||
|Finance 300 - Business Finance||
|Finance 320 - Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business||
|Human Resource Management 360 - Organizational Behavior||
|Information Systems 300 - Management Information Systems||
|Information Systems 301 - Business Communication||
|Information Systems 310 - Business Statistics
|Management 300 - Principles of Management
|Management 425 - Business Strategy and Policy||
|Marketing 300 - Marketing
|Total upper division units:||
The upper division accounting course, Managerial Accounting, focuses on internal accounting reporting and management's use of accounting information. Accounting majors do not take this course. Instead, accounting majors are required to take Accounting 320 (Cost Accounting), which also focuses on internal accounting reporting and management's use of accounting information. Cost accounting is more technical and consequently better suited to prepares of internal accounting reports rather than users of internal accounting information.
Option in Accounting
The accountancy option is designed to meet the accounting education goals of those entering the accounting profession. It is carefully planned and rigorous, building the conceptual, analytical, and communication skills necessary to succeed in the accounting profession. It prepares you for careers in all areas of accounting, including the necessary qualifications for professional examinations such as the CPA, CMA, EA, and CIA examinations.
|Accounting 300A - Intermediate Accounting||4|
|Accounting 300B - Intermediate Accounting||4|
|Accounting 351 - Federal Tax Law||4|
|Accounting 400 - Advanced Accounting||4|
|Accounting 470 - Auditing||4|
|Accounting 480 - Accounting Systems and Data Processing||4|
Since accounting courses are generally of a sequential "building" nature,
the required accounting courses have prerequisites that should be strictly
observed. In addition, they should be taken in the order listed above. A
typical sequence would be as follows:
|Freshman year||No accounting courses|
|Sophomore year - second Semester||ACCT 201|
|Junior year - first Semester||ACCT 300A|
|Junior year - second semester||ACCT 300B and ACCT 320|
|Senior year - first semester||ACCT 351 and ACCT 480|
|Senior year - second semester||ACCT 400 and ACCT 470|
Intermediate Accounting A. The Intermediate Accounting course is split into two parts, ACC T 300A and ACCT 300B. These two courses cover different accounting topics; however, ACCT 300A is a prerequisite for ACCT 300B. This is because of the fact that the first portion of ACCT 300A includes an advanced review of basic accounting theory, principles, and practice that are covered in Elementary Financial Accounting. Students should be familiar with this basic knowledge before enrolling in ACCT 300B.
Intermediate Accounting B is the most important course in the accounting curriculum. It covers the fundamentals of professional accounting theory and practice. Consequently, ACCT 300B is a prerequisite for upper division accounting courses ACCT 400 (Advanced Accounting), ACCT 470 (Auditing), ACCT 480 (Accounting Systems and Data Processing), and ACCT 493 (Accounting Internships).
The Advanced Accounting course (ACCT 400) covers consolidated financial statements, foreign operations, partnerships, governmental and not-for-profit accounting. These topics are not covered in either Elementary Financial Accounting (ACCT 201) or Intermediate Accounting (ACCT 300A and ACCT 300B).
Cost Accounting. The Cost Accounting course (ACCT 320) has one course as a prerequisite, ACCT 201. The Elementary Accounting course is a prerequisite because of the basic accounting principles that carry forward to all accounting courses.
Income Tax Accounting. Federal Income Tax (ACCT 351) provides coverage of corporation, partnership, estate and trust taxation. Although income tax law is a technical subject covered in separate courses, basic aspects of income tax law are integrated, as appropriate, into other accounting courses such as Elementary Financial Accounting, Intermediate Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Advanced Accounting.
Auditing. The subject of auditing is a major aspect of professional accounting. The primary function and purpose of Certified Public Accountants are to examine year-end financial statements prepared by management and attest to their "fair presentation" and reasonableness. Internal accounting reporting and systems are also subject to periodic reviews. The Auditing course (ACC T 470) focuses on the role of the auditor in examining published financial statements. Accordingly, this course requires Intermediate Accounting (ACCT 300A and 300B) and Cost Accounting (ACCT 320) as prerequisites.
Accounting Information Systems. The Accounting Systems and Data Processing course (ACCT 480) covers the analysis, design, implementation and review Or accounting information systems, especially computerized accounting information systems. This course is computer orientated and requires a broad knowledge of basic financial and managerial accounting systems. Accordingly, prerequisites include Intermediate Accounting (ACCT 300A and 300B), Cost Accounting (ACCT 320), and Management Information Systems (IS 300) from the Information systems Department. The IS 300 course covers theory of management information systems and introduces students to several computer applications such as data base, spreadsheet, and word processing.
Elective units are to make up the total 128 units required for the Bachelor Degree in Accounting (124 for other majors). You should select electives for expansion of knowledge and intellectual interests as well as for preparation for business employment.
Student services are provided by three offices: Admission and Advising Center, Office of Student Services, and the Mentoring Business Program.
|Coordinator: Carol Grutzmacher
Office: CBA 105 Tel. (562) 985-4514
The Admissions and Advisement Center is a unique feature of the College of Business Administration. Advisors are available in the office throughout the semester to assist students with admission, registration, and degree requirement information. Advisors are trained by the Office of the Dean and the Office of the Registrar. The Center is also responsible for determining if a student meets the supplemental criterion for admission to the upper division business program.
The Center provides regularly scheduled advisement as follows:
Monday 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Monday through Thursday 7:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
In addition, individual faculty members work with accounting majors on a wide range of specific problems. The faculty also advises Accounting minors and approve all Accounting minor programs of study. Course substitutions (e.g. approving an accounting course taken at another university for CSULB credit) must be approved by the chair of the Accountancy Department.
|Director: Jeane Caveness
Office: CBA 457
Tel. (310) 985-5297
The Office of Student Services is responsible for overseeing the business organizations, scholarships, and the London semester program.
|Director: Anna Liza Garcia
Office: CBA 126
Tel. (562) 985-1670
The Mentoring Business Program is a support program for under- represented students. It is designed to encourage student efforts to successfully complete a degree in business administration.
The Accounting Society is an organization open to all accountancy students. It is not affiliated with any national organization, but many of its members also join Beta Alpha Psi.
Beta Alpha Psi
Beta Alpha Psi is a national honorary accounting society. To be initiated as a member of Beta Alpha Psi, you must have a 3.0 grade point average in Accountancy and a 3.0 grade point average overall. Beta Alpha Psi conducts many professional and service activities to serve accounting students and the community.
Since its formation in 1972, the CSULB Gamma Omega Chapter of Beta Alpha
Psi has established a long-standing tradition of being ranked among the top
chapters in the country by the national Beta Alpha Psi organization.