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CAREER GUIDE FOR ACCOUNTANTS

Standard Occupational Code: 13-2011.01

Pay Band(s): 4, 5, and 6 (Salary Structure)


Standard Occupational Description:

Analyze financial information and prepare financial reports to determine or maintain record of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities within an organization.

Accountant positions in the Commonwealth primarily are assigned to roles in the Financial Services Career Group.

Financial Services Specialist I

Financial Services Specialist II

Financial Services Specialist III

While Accountants within the Commonwealth are all located within the Financial Services Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

General Administration

Program Administration

Audit and Management Services

Procurement Services

Policy Analysis and Planning

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Accountants commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Using mathematics to solve problems.
  2. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  3. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  4. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  5. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  6. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  7. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  8. Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  9. Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  10. Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Knowledge

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Accountants commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  2. Economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  3. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  4. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  5. Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  6. Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  7. Administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  8. Principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Abilities

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Accountants commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  2. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  3. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  4. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  5. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  6. Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  7. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  8. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  9. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  10. Speak clearly so others can understand you.

Tasks

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Accountants.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Prepare, examine, and analyze accounting records, financial statements, and other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards.
  2. Compute taxes owed and prepare tax returns, ensuring compliance with payment, reporting and other tax requirements.
  3. Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations, to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice.
  4. Report to management regarding the finances of establishment.
  5. Establish tables of accounts, and assign entries to proper accounts.
  6. Develop, maintain, and analyze budgets, preparing periodic reports that compare budgeted costs to actual costs.
  7. Develop, implement, modify, and document record keeping and accounting systems, making use of current computer technology.
  8. Prepare forms and manuals for accounting and bookkeeping personnel, and direct their work activities.
  9. Survey operations to ascertain accounting needs and to recommend, develop, and maintain solutions to business and financial problems.
  10. Work as Internal Revenue Service agents.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The accountant occupation has the following characteristics:

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Generally licensure is not required for Accountant positions in state government.

To learn more about becoming a Certified Public Accountant, visit the Virginia Board of Accountancy's web site at http://www.boa.state.va.us or call 804-367-8505.

The Department of Labor provides the following information on certification:

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also offers members with valid CPA certificates the option to receive the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designations. The addition of these designations to the CPA distinguishes those accountants with a certain level of expertise in the nontraditional areas in which accountants are practicing more frequently.

The Association of Government Accountants grants the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation for accountants, auditors, and other government financial personnel at the Federal, State, and local levels. To learn more about becoming a Certified Government Financial Manager, visit the Association of Government Accountants' web site at http://www.agacgfm.org/ or contact agacgfm@agacgfm.org.

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) confers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation upon applicants who complete a bachelor's degree or attain a minimum score on specified graduate school entrance exams.

The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, a satellite organization of the National Society of Public Accountants, confers three designations—Accredited Business Accountant (ABA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), and Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP)—on accountants specializing in tax preparation for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Certification enhances professional growth and career progression.

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Government accountants and auditors work in the public sector, maintaining and examining the records of government agencies and auditing private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by Federal, State, and local governments guarantee that revenues are received and expenditures are made in accordance with laws and regulations. Those who are employed by the Federal Government may work as Internal Revenue Service agents or in financial management, financial institution examination, or budget analysis and administration.

Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Beginning accounting and auditing positions in the Federal Government, for example, usually require 4 years of college (including 24 semester hours in accounting or auditing) or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree in accounting, or with a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Professional associations that afford access to continuing education programs and are sources of educational, training, and learning opportunities include:

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) lists many Virginia educational institutions offering programs in accounting on their web site: http://research.schev.edu/degreeinventory/inventory_

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  • Technical and Functional Expertise
  • Understanding the Business     
  • Achieving Results
  • Serving the Customer
  • Teamwork
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.virginia.gov/cd_main.html.  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Accountant

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

MANAGER ROLES

4

Financial Services Specialist I

 

5

Financial Services Specialist II

Financial Services Manager I

6

Financial Services Specialist III

Financial Services Manager II

7

 

Financial Services Manager III

8

 

Financial Services Manager IV

Sample Career Path 

Financial Specialist I

The Financial Specialist I role provides career tracks for accountants performing entry-level to first-line supervisory responsibilities ensuring or evaluating compliance and accountability of financial programs and business operations/processes.

Financial Specialist II

The Financial Services Specialist II role provides career tracks for financial analysts performing advanced-level responsibilities analyzing and evaluating data in one or more specialty areas including, but not limited to, resources management, business operations/processes, budgets, and financial systems. An applicable professional certification may be preferred. Employees are required to have strong technical knowledge in one or more specialty areas.

Financial Specialist III

The Financial Services Specialist III role provides career track for expert financial specialists who provide professional financial, analytical, technical, and policy/program expertise relating to areas such as reimbursements. Employees may serve as project leaders or as expert resources to state agencies, the legislature, and other organizations.

Financial Services Manager I

The Financial Services Manager I role provides career tracks for first level managers involved in planning and managing assigned specialty areas such as grants, accounts payable, accounts receivable, taxation, budgeting, and other financial operations. Employees may be the single position through which all financial information flows. Employees have technical and supervisory skills to include serving as subject matter experts and performing personnel management tasks.

Financial Services Manager II

The Financial Services Manager II role provides career tracks for senior level managers involved in planning, organizing, and administering personnel and programs relating to one or more specialized areas such as resource management, business operations, budget, and financial systems. Employees typically manage professional employees and/or supervisors.

Financial Services Manager III

The Financial Services Manager III role provides career tracks for managers serving as directors or comptrollers involved in the overall direction and leadership of specialized financial programs. May direct the overall fiscal or audit management of an agency or institution having diverse and complicated financial and regulatory requirements or may direct the statewide function of a principle financial area to ensure achievement of organizational mission and goals.

Financial Services Manager IV

The Financial Services Manager IV role provides career tracks for executives responsible for policies, procedures, and standards that ensure the protection of the Commonwealth's fiscal assets and meet program goals. Employees have statutory and regulatory (both state and federal) responsibilities to provide for the development and maintenance of financially sound, high-quality programs and services.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

http://online.onetcenter.org/

Virginia Employment Commission

http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop

http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network

http://jobs.virginia.gov/

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

 http://www.aicpa.org

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

 http://www.nasba.org

Institute of Management Accountants

http://www.imanet.org

Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation

 http://www.acatcredentials.org

Association of Government Accountants

 http://www.agacgfm.org