Your assignment this week is to write your formal report’s table of contents and introduction, using formal
formatting. To complete this assignment, you will need to have a good plan in place for your formal report. I
encourage you to use the three-step process we’ve been studying this session.
Table of Contents
Certified Public Accountant
Studying various accounting topics is essential for entering into the field of accounting.
Each of the various accounting topics sheds light on one aspect of accounting or another, all of
which go into the overall understanding and functioning of accounting. With so many different
aspects of accounting, it can often be difficult to understand how each is used within the realm of
an accounting career. Likewise, the need for accounting is found in many settings from small
businesses to billion-dollar corporations—accounting knowledge is required. With the high
demand for individuals with accounting knowledge, there numerous career choices available.
The purpose of this formal report is to carefully analyze two possible career choices in
accounting industry. This report will examine many features of each available career choice.
Some of the features that will be examined include the purpose and expectations of each
position. Only by having a thorough understanding of the different career choices available, can
an individual begin to decide which avenue they wish to pursue. This knowledge must be taken
into consideration, in addition to the areas of accounting that they excel at, their individual skill
set, and their personal interests, before determining which position to pursue as their lifelong
There are many possibilities for career choices within the field of accounting, each using
some aspects of accounting more so than others. Likewise, the roles and benefits of each career
choice within the accounting industry differ as well. Some career choices focus specifically upon
the act of recording transactions. On the other hand, some career choices focus upon determining
whether such transactions were made correctly, or which transactions were purposefully made
incorrectly for personal gain, or fraud.
While there are many different career choices, two particular careers that will be focused
on in this report include Certified Public Accountants and Forensic Accountants. Each of these
careers use different areas of accounting but are still deeply rooted in the knowledge of
accounting practices, both fundamental and current. Careful analysis of each will lead to a
greater understanding of the position its self and whether it is a career choice that should be
Certified Public Accountant
A certified public accountant performs all of the basic functions associated with
accounting. Individuals within this position are responsible for the preparation and examination
of financial records. More than simply recording financial transactions, certified public
accountants must ensure that the methods of recording such transactions are done in compliance
with the various laws and regulations that are implemented at the federal, state, and local level.
In the process of doing this, certified public accountants are also responsible for keeping
financial records organized, and perform maintenance on records as required. Likewise, such
individuals are also responsible for carefully inspecting accounting records to ensure accepted
accounting practices are being utilized, and that transactions are being recorded in an efficient
manner (“What accountants,” 2012).
Certified public accountants are also in high demand during tax season and during the
end of an organization’s fiscal year. This is because such individuals work intimately with
financial information and have detailed knowledge of tax code and requirements. Using this
knowledge, certified public accountants can calculate the amount of taxes owed, as well as
prepare the tax returns that are required. If the certified public accountant works with an
individual or an organization on a long-term basis and has an established relationship, they may
also be responsible for ensuring that the owed taxes are paid on time and properly.
Organizations may also use individuals in such positions for additional tasks as well. For
instance, an organization may have a certified public accountant carefully review the financial
operations of the organization, so that they can make suggestions and recommendations as to
how such practices can be adjusted to improve efficiency. Likewise, an organization may also
have certified public accountants make suggestions on how the organization can reduce their
expenditure, improve their revenues, and increase the organization’s overall profitability.
Not only must an individual in such a position be able to perform these tasks, they must
also be able to explain their findings as well. While they hold accounting knowledge, they must
be able to explain what they have found in such a way that those without accounting knowledge
also understand so that decisions can be made accordingly. Such explanations will be required
for any employer of or client of the certified public accountant.
It is important to note that many of the tasks and responsibilities discussed thus far can be
performed by simply an accountant, as well as a certified public accountant. The difference
between the two is that a certified public accountant has undergone rigorous testing and meets
federal standards. Likewise, certified public accountants also have experience within the field of
accounting. This certification allows such individuals to prepare and review financial documents
that organizations are required by law to disclose, such as balance sheets and tax forms (“What
Certified public accounts typically either work for an accounting firm, or open their own
accounting business. They may work on a number of different accounts, or with numerous
clients, all of differing complexity of financial and accounting information. In order to become a
certified public accountant one must have a bachelor’s degree with a background in accounting,
as well as a special industry certification, which requires the passing of a test and field
experience. Such positions are often full time, and require overtime during peak seasons based
on the knowledge and capabilities of such individuals when it comes to wrapping-up financial
information, such as during tax season or the end of a budget year.
Another career choice in the realm of accounting is forensic accounting. This career
choice is gaining in demand, as the issue of fraud has become increasingly present in today’s
financial dealings. Forensic accountants must have much of the same knowledge as a certified
public accountant. In fact, many forensic accountants are also certified public accounts who
apply their knowledge of accounting in a different manner. Rather than directly recording
transactions, formulating financial documents, and filing taxes, forensic accountants work
backwards. They sift through piles of information and financial transactions to determine if
approved accounting practices have been used and that all transactions meet the legal parameters
determined by various rules and regulations put in place.
Beyond this role, there are many tasks or duties a forensic accountant may be asked to
perform. One such task includes careful investigation of individuals and companies involved in
large financial transactions. This investigation would result in a thorough financial profile of the
individuals/companies to determine that the large transaction was made following all legal
regulations and requirements.
Forensic accountants focus upon working backwards through their accounting knowledge
to search for occurrences of numerous financial crimes. For instance, forensic accounting is used
to realize instances of bankruptcies and contract disputes, securities fraud and embezzlement, as
well as other criminal financial transactions. Because the crimes that forensic accountants are
looking for are so heavily based upon what is legal and illegal, individuals within such positions
must have a strong familiarity with the law. In addition, it is highly beneficial for such
individuals to also have knowledge of numerous investigating techniques and methods. Such
skills will prove to be helpful when sifting backwards through information to find the fraudulent
activity. Having such knowledge and skills will also help individuals within such a position, as
their investigations will often require interaction with law enforcement (“What private,” 2012).
Additionally, having strong speaking skills and the ability to clearly explain findings and results
of investigations will prove to be critical, as forensic accountants are often called as expert
witnesses in litigation for the fraudulent activity.
The work of a forensic accountant can also go beyond the initial investigation as well. If
an individual or company is found guilty of fraud, the ruling of their case may be for the
defendant to pay back the monies that were taken from the victims as restitution. However, in
many cases the referenced money has been spent or squandered. In order for the defendant to
begin to repay, a forensic accountant may be called in to search for assets. The search for assets
would be specifically for the forensic accountant to sift through financial records of the
defendant to determine what assets are available and what can be liquidized. By finding such
information, the money can be retrieved and distributed accordingly.
With the number of financial fraud cases increasing, there is likely to be growth in this
career choice. Just as with certified public accountants, forensic accountants typically work full-
time, with overtime being required when working on a specific case or with specified deadlines
put in place. Likewise, a bachelor’s degree with a background in accounting is also important, as
is real world experience within the accounting industry.
Both certified public accountants and forensic accountants require detailed knowledge of
accounting practices. However, each career choice requires a different skill set beyond
accounting knowledge. For instance, certified public accountants will need to be more skilled at
tax law and regulations surrounding taxation, whereas forensic accountants will need to be more
knowledgeable on the various financial laws that exist regarding the trading of securities.
Certified public accountants and forensic accounts both are required to have their
bachelor’s degree, as well as experience within the accounting industry. Only then can an
individual have the skills required to be successful in either position. It is important to note that
both career choices are likely to experience growth in the upcoming years as regulations upon
the financial industry become stricter. Organizations are being required by law to provide
specific financial documents. However, further regulation also requires that these financial
documents be audited by a third party before being released. Likewise, the growth in financial,
or white-collar crimes is growing, with a 10 percent increase in corporate fraud cases from 2010
to 2011, indicates growth for forensic accounting (Baram, 2012).
Neither career choice is superior over the other. However, it is recommended that a
career as an accountant, and then a certified public accountant, be pursued initially. By focusing
upon a simple accounting position the real world experienced needed to become a certified
public accountant can be obtained. Once this certification is obtained, an individual should
continue working in this field to gain as much accounting knowledge as possible. If there is an
interest in forensic accounting, white-collar crimes, or simply solving puzzles, a career in
forensic accounting should then be pursued.
Therefore, the recommendation for any recent college graduate is to pursue the career
choice of becoming a certified public accountant. For individuals who are already certified
public accountants with extensive accounting experience, the career choice of forensic
accounting should be pursued. Either way, growth is expected within both areas of the industry
and should be considered when deciding to enter the field of accounting.
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