Becoming an Accountant with a Political Science Degree

Accounting Career Overview

An accountant serves many functions related to financial recordkeeping. They work in various places in both public and private organizations. Becoming an accountant means choosing a career that involves a high degree of record keeping. If a person enjoys bookkeeping and numbers, a job in accounting may be the right career choice.

Accountants must be well versed in tax law, and keep current with the ever-changing tax code. An accountant will also know how to advise clients about retirement choices for optimal future performance. While an accountant is not an attorney, they will be able to offer advice on laws related to their field.

Some accountants spend time auditing books or investigating the financial records of companies for law enforcement purposes. These accountants help determine the existence of white-collar crimes and incidences of money laundering.

Specializations and Places of Work

accountant with a political science degree Accountants work at just about every level of business and government. Many accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPA). A CPA can work independently owning their own business, or they may work for a large accounting firm, or nonprofit organization.

Other places to work as an accountant include government jobs. From the White House to local governing bodies, handling and accounting for money is a key role in any government organization. Public education is another place where accounting is crucial. Just like the government, when budgets are set and monies distributed, the school board and the public will require an accounting of the distribution of funds.

Specializations in accounting:

  • Forensic accountants
  • Managerial accountants
  • Financial accountants
  • Payroll specialists
  • Financial planning accountants

Roles and Duties of an Accountant

A major component of the accounting field is the demand for legitimate monetary accountability using a method that is a generally accepted accounting principle (GAAP). In 2002 the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was implemented after major corporations illegally handled funds. The accountant’s character needs to be of the highest moral standard in order to avoid any suspicion of improper activity. They are required by law to handle recordkeeping and advising in a manner that is fair, legal, and ethical.

The roles of an accountant vary with the kind of accounting specialty. Generally speaking, an accountant’s role often includes such things as recordkeeping, tax advice, consulting, filling out tax forms, investing advice, and looking through financial books for accuracy.

Accountant Education and Training

Accountants need specialized training related to their employment. For instance, a forensic accountant would benefit from coursework in law and criminal justice. Accountants preferring government positions may prefer a degree in political science with accounting, and financial coursework.

Not all accounting positions require a degree. Some only demand a certain number of hours, and a designated set of courses be completed.  Some accounting specialties will require a state test and certification. Each state has its own requirements. To use the designation CPA, a candidate must take a state exam administered by National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Once an accountant has completed any college classes and degree requirements, their education isn’t over. As an accountant, a student will need to continue taking classes to keep current on changing laws, and best practices over the life of their career.

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Salary Information and Job Outlook

Employment for accountants is expected to continue to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over the next decade there is a robust growth projection of more than a quarter of a million positions. There are already well over a million jobs in accounting, making this a booming field of employment in the US.

There is an excellent chance for advancement in accounting. Entry-level accountants earn, on average, approximately $60,000 annually. Top earners can make well over $100,000 a year. Many factors affect how much an account earns including the size of the organization, whether an applicant chooses a public or private employer, or if they opt for work in the non-profit sector.

General Resources


Career Specialties