Whether you apply for a state or federal job, you will find a wide variety of accounting positions. At the federal level, there are thirteen divisions within the Department of Treasury. These divisions deal with economic and tax policy. A large number of accounting jobs are found within the Internal Revenue Service. This is the most common government agency graduating students consider when applying for a federal accounting job.
Not so commonly thought about are accounting positions within The Federal Bureau of Investigations. In actuality, an accounting degree is one of the most preferred qualifications for a job within the Bureau. Other departments include the General Accounting Office and the Armed Services.
Different Kinds of Accounting Jobs
State accounting jobs are also varied and fall into a number of departments. Although each state has a different structure, thereby containing differences in departments as well, all states have their agencies with employees who perform similar functions. Every state has a department of revenue and collects some form of state taxes. They will also have a State Board of Accounts and a Department of Financial Institutions, or similar department. As well as federal and state jobs, there are accounting positions at the county or borough level and for individual cities.
Accounting jobs in general are expected to grow by sixteen percent by the year 2020; a little faster than average for all jobs. Within government agencies, however, there is expected to be a greater concentration in forensic accountants; who investigate fraud.
After the scandal centered around the subprime mortgage practices that caused devastating effects on the economy, the US Government has proposed a number of new regulations related to businesses and finance to keep major industries in compliance with fair practice standards.
These tighter standards increase the importance of audits, controllers who oversee the accounting operations of organizations, and Federal Bureau special agents who investigate white collar crimes, public corruption, financial crime, fraud and bribery.
Other factors play into the increased demand for government accountants. A large number of companies and businesses continue to extend or move their operations overseas. As long as they are US citizens, they are still subject to the same tax laws they would be subject to if they were still living in the United States.
This trend, toward the globalization of business, creates an increased demand for accountants with expertise in International law and who are able to render services related to International trade and International mergers and acquisitions.
The Job Outlook
There are currently over two million people employed in accounting services within the public sector. Because of the credit crisis, many government organizations have extended credit to their banking institutions, guaranteed liability, purchased the debt instruments and in some cases have taken over control of the banks.
This has increased the responsibilities of government agencies for accountability and transparency in their financial dealing.
Although the demand for accountants is high, so is the number of applicants for accounting jobs. Government agencies prefer to hire certified public accountants with a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. However, the greatest advantage for securing a government agency job is in securing a master’s degree in business with a concentration in accounting or a master’s in business.
Most government agencies require the successful completion of an entrance exam, as well as an interview. Some positions require a willingness to move on a continuous basis, and in cases, such as with a Treasury Enforcement Agent or an IRS special agent, there can be an element of danger. Keep these points in mind as you continue to grow in this career.