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Take Charge Of Your Career


Take Charge Of Your Career Tips

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									Take Charge of
Your Career
A Five-Step Guide for Current And Aspiring CPAs

      Presented by the AICPA’s Business, Industry & Government Team

       Step 1
       Assess Yourself

       Step 2
       Career Planning

       Step 3
       Career Ladder: Vertical & Horizontal

       Step 4
       Invest in Your Career

       Step 5
       Career Changes

       Appendix A
       Career Paths

       Appendix B
       Position Descriptions

       Appendix C

       To view this document electronically or to access other referenced AICPA materials and resources, please


    Today’s CPAs need a broad range of skills. Successful CPAs not only have technical knowledge,
    but can integrate their technical and interpersonal skills with management concepts in order to
    make key business decisions. But identifying the skills you need and finding ways to develop
    them can be overwhelming. This guide will make the process less daunting and help you take
    charge of your career and make the most of your professional assets.

    Career planning is an ongoing process that evolves along with your work capabilities. Following
    this guide can help put you on the road to a successful career by making it easier to determine
    your professional goals and map out a strategic plan that you can follow.

    Anyone, at any point in their career, can use the steps and tools included in this guide to
    move closer to your goals and aspirations. Whether you are an accounting pre-professional, a
    seasoned CPA, or a mentor, you can use these tips to get on track to align your skills with your
    professional objectives, or guide others to success. Taking charge means taking action, so start
    as soon as possible.

    The career planning process takes some time, but the investment will pay off by helping you make
    steady progress and avoid career stagnation. Follow these five steps, along with the resources
    provided by the AICPA, to plan your career and take control of your future.


    1   Use these steps as a checklist.                 3   Revisit your plan once a year to stay on track
                                                            and make certain your goals remain relevant
    2   Apply the tools to help you make decisions.         and attainable.

                                                        4   Adjust your plan as needed to capture new
                                                            goals or reflect new experiences and

Step 1
Assess Yourself
By assessing your strengths, skills and areas           travel? Do you prefer working alone or as
for professional growth, you can develop a              part of a team? This is an easy way to
reasonable plan that you can execute whether            outline the type of job and environment
you’re an experienced CPA or just starting              that best matches your needs and desires.
your career. Use the following tools as a
starting point.                                     4   Write your Future Job Description.
                                                        Describe where you see yourself in one to
1   The AICPA Competency Self-Assessment                three years. Be specific. Do you want to be a
    Tool (CAT). Use this Web-based tool to              generalist or a specialist? Do you see yourself
    refine the skills you need for your current         working in public accounting; for a public,
    job or train for positions you aspire to.           private or not-for-profit organization; the
    Assess yourself in the areas of:                    government; or in academia? Answers to
                                                        these questions are critical to developing an
    • Personal Attributes                               effective plan.
                                                                                                          Sample SWOT Analysis
    • Leadership Qualities
    • Broad Business Perspective                    5   Create an Ideal Work/Life Balance                 STRENGTHS
                                                                                                          • strong technical knowledge
    • Functional Specialty (technical areas)            Scenario. Finding the proper work/life              in accounting
                                                                                                          • interaction with the AICPA
                                                        balance is critical to maintaining a long and       Technical Committee
    Identify the skills or proficiencies you need       happy career. You can find a list of
    to reach your specific goals, and create a          resources to help you manage and plan for         • lack of work experience in
    personalized career development/training            that balance here:              pharmaceutical industry
                                                                                                          • presentation skills
    plan. This tool is a member benefit (free).
    Non-members pay a subscription fee.             6   Consider your Values and Beliefs. We don’t        OPPORTUNITIES
    For more on this topic go to                        always take this into account when thinking       • positive trend in accounting
                                                                                                            positions and career                   about careers, but this analysis is important       opportunities
                                                                                                          • relocation — geography
                                                        when deciding where you want to work.
2   A SWOT Analysis is a popular way to list            Make sure you are comfortable with the            THREATS
                                                                                                          • pharmaceutical companies
    your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities           culture of the company or firm you choose.          hire with industry knowledge
    and Threats. In assessing your strengths                                                              • lack of advanced industry
                                                                                                            specific training
    and weaknesses, think about it from the         CPAs have many career opportunities, and can
    viewpoint of an employer. By looking at         choose direct or multiple paths within public
    your opportunities and threats in a chosen      practice, business, industry, government or
    career field, you will be able to capitalize    not-for-profit environments. But sometimes it’s
    on the opportunities and avoid or lessen        difficult to clearly see our own strengths and
    the threats.                                    opportunities for development. You may find
                                                    it beneficial to share your assessment with a
3   Identify your Likes and Dislikes. Do you like   mentor, coach or someone whose opinion you
    to interact with people? Do you want to         value, to get another perspective.

    Step 2
    Career Planning
    Once you have completed the self-assessment,       To ensure your career plan is actionable, make
    you can begin to create a road map to achieve      it SMART. In a SMART career plan each goal is:
    your short- and long-term goals.
                                                       Specific (answers what, why and how)
    1   Start your career plan with your educational
        background, employment history and any         Measurable (set up interim goals or
        professional licenses, certifications, etc.    checkpoints along the way)

    2   Record the volunteer and other unpaid          Attainable (requires you to stretch,
        experiences that are relevant to your          but is achievable)
        career goals (for example: Little League,
        church, or whatever groups or                  Realistic (doable)
        organizations you are involved with). This
        information should be updated regularly        Time-Bound (set a time frame for completion)
        and can be used on your résumé.
                                                       Depending on where you are in your career,
    3   List your goals. Break them into short-term    your plan may be clear-cut or quite complex.
        (one year) and long-term (three to five        A pre-professional may focus on completing
        years) goals.                                  education, preparing for the CPA exam and
                                                       deciding where to work. Others may need
    4   Create a development and training plan to      to work on transitional goals (i.e., going from
        reach these goals. This area will include      a firm to a company; handling a downsizing
        both formal and on-the-job developmental       or office closing, etc.) or life changes (i.e.,
        opportunities. For example, if you attend a    getting married; having children; relocating,
        formal training course on effective            etc.). Each circumstance will raise additional
        presentation techniques, take steps to         considerations. The self-assessment can
        increase proficiency by having someone         help you analyze and plan for any of these
        observe your presentation skills, and          situations. Whether you want to work part time,
        provide feedback. If you used the              full time or volunteer, you clearly can review
        Competency Self-Assessment (CAT) Tool,         your options and make informed decisions.
        you may have already completed a
        development or training plan.                  Share this career plan with your mentor or
                                                       coach, and incorporate their feedback.

Step 3
Career Ladder: Vertical & Horizontal
Your choices will determine how your career advances.                        organization. The transition from manager to
You can move either vertically or horizontally on                            a leadership position requires strategic skills
the career ladder. A vertical step provides more                             along with the other competencies you have
responsibility, based on experience, and generally                           built. In senior leadership positions, you are
offers expanded managerial tasks and leadership                              responsible for results and must demonstrate
opportunities. Horizontal steps are necessary to gain                        strategic vision and leadership attributes.
experience and the specific knowledge that will help
you to meet your future goals.                                            The length of time you spend in each position
                                                                          depends upon many factors — the assignments
1             The first step in your career usually is an                 you have undertaken; your experience; whether
              entry-level position where you are an individual            you are a specialist or a generalist; and your
              contributor. When special projects, rotational or           work/life preferences.
              global assignments arise, determine how the
              opportunity fits with your current career plan,             Career transitions, such as going from
              and what competencies (such as technical,                   individual contributor to manager, going from
              broad business perspective, leadership qualities            a manager to a senior leadership position, etc.,
              or personal attributes) you will build.                     are big steps in your career and it is advisable
                                                                          to seek out a mentor to guide you along. For
2             Going from an individual contributor to a                   senior leadership positions, a professional
              managerial role is an important transition step             career coach may be helpful. For information
              that moves you vertically on the career ladder.             on mentoring go to
              An individual contributor relies heavily on
              technical skills and is responsible for his or her          As you receive or seek out opportunities, reflect
              own results. A manager, on the other hand, is               upon your professional and personal growth.
              responsible for the results of the team.                    This will help you decide if these are the right
                                                                          moves for you. Luckily, CPAs can choose from
3             As a manager, you can explore horizontal                    a variety of career paths. Appendix A contains
              moves that will increase your understanding                 a list of career paths and Appendix B a list of
              of the internal and external aspects of your                position descriptions to consider.

 Career Ladder


                                                                                   Strategic/Senior Leadership Level

                                          Managing Others/Manager Level

                Individual Contributor/
                Entry Level

                                                                    POSITION                                           RESPONSIBILITY

    Step 4
    Invest in Your Career
    The best investment you can make in yourself          4   Expand your expertise by getting certified
    is taking the time to plan your career. The               in a specialized area or join a section.
    next is continual education — whether formal              Specialty certifications enhance your
    classroom education or experiential learning.             knowledge and business value. AICPA
                                                              certifications include the Certified
    In today’s fast-paced business world, you                 Information Technology Professional (CITP),
    have to stay ahead of change and continually              Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV),
    develop your technical, leadership and                    Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and
    personal attributes to stay competitive.                  Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).

    1   The AICPA’s Competency Self-Assessment            To learn more about these valuable
        Tool (CAT) is the most efficient way to prepare   designations or sections, access these links:
        yourself for the many opportunities available
        to today’s CPA. At your own pace, you can         • Business Valuation and Forensic & Litigation
        create personalized career development and          Services Section / Accredited in Business
        training plans. CAT also offers ways to look at     Valuation (ABV)
        various career paths and recommendations for
        education and growth.
                                                          • Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)
    2   Join professional associations (such as the
        American Institute of CPAs), state CPA
        societies or an industry trade association to     • IT Section / Certified Information Technology
        expand your technical expertise and find            Professional (CITP)
        networking opportunities. Hone your       
        leadership skills by joining a volunteer
        committee or network and stay current by          • Personal Financial Planning Section
        attending conferences and other events.             /Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
    3   Improve your presentation and
        communication skills by getting involved.         • Tax Section
        If you’re not sure how to get involved in 
        your community, you can begin with the
        AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy
        program. The Financial Literacy website
        ( offers many
        resources, including presentations you can
        use at work or within your community.

Step 5
Career Changes
Career changes — whether planned or                 Completing a certificate program in the field
unplanned — offer opportunities to expand           that you are looking to enter also is a good
goals or set new ones.                              way to gain knowledge of the field.

1   Whether you take on more responsibility         If you plan to leave your current position
    or decide that you would like to do             for a long period of time (to concentrate
    something altogether different, you have        on child care, elder care, obtaining an
    decisions to make.                              advanced degree, etc.), discuss flexible work
                                                    arrangements with your current employer.
2   Downsizing, consolidation, outsourcing          You should have a re-entry plan and maintain
    or personal life changes may cause you          professional licenses and memberships in
    to change your goals.                           professional organizations. Take advantage of
                                                    ad hoc work assignments, as well as courses
3   You may decide you want to obtain an            to help update your skills. In addition, if you
    MBA or a Ph.D., so you can teach                are on a leave of absence, have a support
    accounting courses at a university or           network and mentors you can turn to for
    expand your opportunities in business.          advice and business news. Whatever the
                                                    reason for the change, a self-assessment
4   You may need time to care for family.           and development plan will help you keep
                                                    control of your life and your career. Change is
Here are some tips to consider when making a        inevitable — having a plan will keep you on
career change:                                      the path to success, however you define it.

If you are thinking of changing industries (i.e.,   Summary
from telecommunications to pharmaceuticals)         The career planning process takes some time,
you may want to go on some informational            but the investment will pay off. Follow the
interviews before making a change. You              previous five steps and use the Appendices
may have the skills but not the industry            and Resource information that follow to plan a
knowledge and these interviews may give             successful career and control your future.
you that information. Informational interviews
are useful when looking for details about
the requirements for a job, without directly
applying for the position at that time. Such
interviews are very useful for mid-career
changes, especially if you are looking for a
completely different position.


 Appendix A
 Career Paths

Business and Industry                                            Non-Financial Positions
CPAs in business and industry work for companies ranging         CPAs are broad-based experts whose knowledge and
from family-owned businesses to Fortune 500 companies.           skills are sought and valued by management in various
They are considered strategic business partners of their         non-financial positions. CPAs can succeed in business as top
organizations and work in a variety of areas as noted below.     level managers, chief executive officers and chief operating
For an explanation of why you should have a CPA in your          officers. CPAs also can be found in human resources,
“C-suite”(i.e, CEO, COO, CFO), go to the AICPA’s online          marketing, planning and process improvement roles.
Financial Management Center ( For an
explanation of CFO responsibilities, refer to Appendix B,        Tax Planning
Corporate Accounting.                                            CPAs are responsible for determining the company’s liability
                                                                 to various taxing authorities for income tax, licenses, sales
Financial Management/Corporate Finance/Treasury                  tax, property tax and payroll tax. They analyze the effects of
Under this broad category, CPAs are responsible for              tax accounting alternatives and study laws and regulations
analyzing a company’s future financing needs, making             to ensure correct application of new tax measures.
presentations to, and negotiating with, banks and other
investors, and managing an organization’s cash and               Government
investments. They also are involved in structuring deals,        Like their counterparts in public accounting and the
business valuation, acquiring/disposing of businesses and        corporate world, CPAs in government have responsibilities
product lines.                                                   in the areas of auditing, financial reporting and
                                                                 management accounting. In addition, CPAs in government
Financial Reporting                                              have the opportunity to evaluate the efficiency of
The CPA is responsible for accumulating and verifying the        government departments and agencies at the federal, state
data required for the preparation of financial statements        and local levels as well as advise decision-makers in the use
and internal controls over the financial reporting process.      of entity resources.
CPAs often are in charge of the design, implementation
and maintenance of the computer system used in the               At the federal level, some examples of where CPAs work
preparation of financial statements and internal controls.       include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal
                                                                 Revenue Service, the Department of the Treasury and the
Internal Auditing                                                Government Accountability Office (GAO). They may be
The CPA as internal auditor is responsible for providing an      involved in investigating white-collar crime, managing
objective review of the company’s financial and operating        financial statement audits for government agencies,
systems. He/she may also assist outside CPAs in their            performing research and analysis on financial management
examination and evaluation of the company’s financial            issues or testifying before a legislative committee on an
statements. The internal auditor often functions as an           audit or on the impact of pending tax legislation.
in-house consultant to senior management.
                                                                 At the state and local level, CPAs are involved in
Management Accounting                                            conducting financial, performance or compliance audits,
CPAs working in management accounting are responsible            which may include analyzing a school district’s ability
for the accumulation, analysis and reporting of financial and    to remain viable, the propriety of expenditures for
non-financial data in a format and level of detail required by   constructing prisons, the effectiveness of the workers’
management for making business decisions.Management              compensation system or the regulatory compliance of
accountants may make recommendations on business                 hazardous waste programs.
policy, resource allocation and business operations to
improve financial performance.

     Below are some of the types of audits performed by CPAs          Not-For-Profit
     in all levels of government:                                     CPAs in not-for-profit organizations provide the
                                                                      information these institutions need to determine that
     1   A performance audit is an independent evaluation of          the benefits and services they provide do not exceed
         an organization’s operation with an eye toward making        revenues. Whether a CPA is on the staff of a not-for-profit
         it work better, faster and more efficient. Along with        organization or serves in an advisory capacity such as the
         these streamlining efforts, a performance audit also         Board of Directors, he or she can help the organization
         may determine whether management is fulfilling its           address compliance issues, set up an internal control
         promises to the taxpayers by effectively providing           system, budget resources and prepare financial data for
         services intended to meet its goals and objectives.          fund-raising.

     2   Financial audits include financial statement and             Education
         financial related audits or reviews. The primary focus of    As accounting educators, CPAs are members of
         a traditional financial statement audit is the               the faculties of colleges of business administration,
         examination and verification of information provided         professional schools of accountancy, graduate schools
         through an entity’s financial statements. This may result    of business and community colleges. As accounting
         in an opinion on the fairness of the information             faculty members, CPAs instruct students in such areas
         presented in the financial statements or determine           as auditing, financial accounting, taxation, cost and
         whether the entity has adhered to specific federal and       managerial accounting and professional ethics, as well
         financial compliance requirements. These audits may          as many other interesting areas. In addition to their
         involve a review of the internal controls over financial     teaching requirements, CPA educators conduct research
         operations and typically result in a letter to               to expand the body of accounting knowledge and author
         management identifying any weaknesses and                    books and articles on accounting theory. Because of their
         recommending corrective action.                              research expertise, many educators also serve as business
                                                                      consultants to companies and firms as well as expert
     3   Compliance audits determine whether the organization         witnesses in litigation situations.
         is following provisions of laws, regulations and
         contractual grant or loan agreements. The purpose of         Audit Committees
         compliance auditing is to identify instances of
                                                                      Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), a financial expert
         significant deviation from specific requirements and to
                                                                      is required on the audit committees for public reporting
         seek corrective action. State compliance audits review
                                                                      companies. Private companies, not-for-profit organizations
         compliance with specific state laws and regulations.
                                                                      and government entities also have a need for CPAs
         Federal compliance audits review compliance with the
                                                                      on their audit committees. For more information on
         legal and regulatory requirements mandated as a
                                                                      Audit Committees please access the Audit Committee
         condition of receiving federal grants and aid.
                                                                      Effectiveness Center at
     4   Investigative audits are performed as a result of reported
         allegations related to improper activities by government
         employees or agencies. The allegations often are
         received through a toll-free hotline for reporting fraud
         and abuse in government. An investigation also may
         result when auditors, while on another assignment,
         become aware of inappropriate or suspicious activity that
         may fall under the Reporting of Improper Governmental
         Activities Act.

Public Practice                                                  disputes. Utilities, manufacturers and chemical companies
In public accounting, the CPA serves many clients as an          are particularly affected by environmental issues. As a result,
objective outsider or in an advisory capacity. Currently         companies in these fields increasingly have turned to CPAs
there are more than 46,000 public-accounting firms in the        to set up a preventive system to ensure compliance and
United States ranging in size from small local accounting        avoid future claims or disputes, and to provide assistance
practices to large international CPA firms. Public               once legal implications have arisen.
accounting services include, but are not limited to, the
areas listed below:                                              Forensic Accounting
                                                                 This is one of the rising areas for CPAs in public accounting.
Auditing                                                         The forensic accountant looks beyond the face value
Auditing is one of the most important and best known             of accounting records to determine if fraud has been
services provided by CPAs in public practice. To better          committed. Also known as an investigative accountant or
protect consumers and investors, the Securities and              fraud auditor, the forensic accountant searches for evidence
Exchange Commission (SEC) requires every publicly held           of criminal conduct or assists in the determination of, or
company to issue an annual financial statement. These            rebuttal of, claimed damages. Investigative accountants
financial statements are examined by an independent CPA          also are being called in to advise companies on whether to
and the results are referred to as an audit. The CPA’s role as   declare bankruptcy or take the necessary steps to remain
an auditor is to examine a company’s financial statements in     solvent. In addition to investigative accounting, the forensic
order to assure stockholders and other financial-statement       accountant may also be called upon in the legal field,
users that a company’s financial position is reported fairly.    assisting lawyers in the litigation process.

Assurance Services                                               Information Technology Services
Assurance services are one of the newest, hottest growth         The growth in information technology has created many
areas for CPAs. Assurance services are provided by a CPA         job opportunities for CPAs with strong computer skills.
that improve the quality of information, or its context, for     There is a tremendous need for professionals who
decision-makers. Such information can be financial or            can design and implement advanced systems to fit a
non-financial, about past events or conditions or about          company’s specialized needs. CPAs skilled in software
on-going processes or systems. It can also be direct             research and development (including multimedia
information about a product or indirect information about        technology) also are highly valued.
someone else’s assertion about a product. Assurance services
allow the CPA to use his/her analytical and information-         International Accounting
processing expertise in a new way. Based on market research,     With many countries adopting the International Financial
everyone from business owners to ordinary consumers can          Reporting Standards (IFRS), this is an area CPAs will need
find value from CPAs who provide these types of services.        to understand. There is growing demand for CPAs who
Electronic commerce, elder care, comprehensive risk              have an understanding of IFRS, international trade rules,
assessment, entity performance measurement and information       accords, and laws; cross-border merger and acquisition
systems quality assessment are just a few examples of            issues; and foreign business customs, cultures and
assurance services areas.                                        procedures. Multiple language skills also are important.

Environmental Accounting                                         Consulting Services
This is one of the growing areas for CPAs in public              Individuals, businesses, financial institutions, not-for-profit
accounting. As businesses take a greater interest in             organizations and government agencies often request
environmental issues, CPAs have been getting involved            CPAs to offer objective advice and technical assistance
in everything from environmental compliance audits and           about a variety of business situations. Some common
systems and procedures audits to handling claims and             consulting engagements might be computerizing a
                                                                 company’s accounting and reporting function, projecting

     a company’s growth using trend analysis techniques,            complexity of business, tax professionals are involved in
     implementing an internal control system, facilitating          everything from preparing tax returns to reorganizing a
     mergers and acquisitions, assisting with production and        multinational company’s domestic and foreign operations
     marketing techniques, and providing general suggestions        in a manner that takes into consideration such factors
     on improving overall operating procedures. Other               as U.S. and foreign taxes, cash investments, dividends
     important growth areas of consulting CPAs include litigation   and economic growth. The CPA tax specialist must
     support, business valuation, strategic planning, succession    deal with a variety of tax problems and opportunities
     planning for family-owned businesses, compensation             in three primary areas of tax practice — tax consulting,
     and benefit plan design. Consulting services provided by       tax compliance and representation of clients before the
     CPAs may include brief discussions with clients in the form    Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In addition to supplying
     of consultations or may involve larger initiatives such as     technical competence, the tax specialist must exercise
     implementation, transaction or support services.               good financial judgment and creativity in order to provide
                                                                    constructive solutions to complex tax problems. Therefore,
     Personal Financial Planning                                    a thorough understanding of the client’s business,
     As personal financial planners, CPAs provide assistance        investment, and personal objectives is required, as well
     to individuals and companies in identifying financial          as a thorough understanding of the tax laws and their
     objectives and counseling on the risk, liquidity,              applications.
     management and tax characteristics of investments.
     Personal financial planning services include helping clients   Find Your Fit
     better manage their money through debt reduction and           If your head is swimming from reading about all of those
     expense control; developing investment strategies and          different career paths it’s OK, we have a tool for you. Go
     asset allocation plans; tax consulting; insurance analysis     to to discover
     and planning; retirement planning; and minimizing estate       more than 2,000 potential career path combinations.
     and gift tax burdens.                                          The tool will give you tips on what you should be doing
                                                                    in college and the early part of your career to help you
     Tax Advisory Services                                          achieve those long-term career aspirations.
     With the ever-changing tax laws and the growing

Appendix B
Position Descriptions

Corporate Accounting                                          Financial Accounting & Reporting Manager (6+ years):
                                                              Assists the Controller and often is charged with
Staff-Financial Accounting & Reporting (1–3 years):
                                                              responsibility for one of the functional areas, such as
Works under the direction of a Senior Accountant
                                                              financial accounting or budgetary planning and control.
performing detailed work assignments in one or several
                                                              This person will coordinate and direct the work of
of the following areas: receivables, payables, payroll,
                                                              personnel involved in detailed accounting entries, internal
property, general ledger and financial statements.
                                                              financial reporting and financial statements.

Staff-Management Accounting (1–3 years): Works under
                                                              Management Accounting Manager (6+ years): Directs
the direction of a Senior or Manager in collecting detailed
                                                              staff responsible for developing and modifying the
cost data. Staff may be responsible for preliminary cost
                                                              management accounting system. He or she develops
analyses and report preparation.
                                                              product costing techniques; institutes cost control
                                                              measures; insures timely and accurate labor, material
Staff-Tax Accounting (1–3 years): Works under the
                                                              and overhead reports; supervises the undertaking of
direction of a Senior or Manager in preparing returns or
                                                              special cost studies; and periodically reviews allocation of
various schedules for review.
                                                              overhead costs.

Staff-Internal Audit (1–3 years): Works under the direction
                                                              Tax Manager (6+ years): Reports to the Controller
of a Senior or Manager in conducting compliance audits
                                                              and directs the staff responsible for determining the
and tests internal controls and information systems.
                                                              organization’s liability to various taxing authorities for
                                                              income tax, licenses, sales tax, property tax and payroll
Senior-Financial Accounting & Reporting (3–6 years):
                                                              tax. This manager analyzes the effect of tax accounting
Supervises the work performed in one or more of the
                                                              alternatives and studies laws and regulations to ensure
general accounting areas such as receivables, payables,
                                                              correct application of new tax measures.
or financial reporting. The person in this role may also
be responsible for special reports and analyses involving
                                                              Internal Audit Manager (6+ years): Directs the staff
financial data.
                                                              responsible for systematically sampling the adequacy and
                                                              the reliability of the internal control systems. The manager
Senior-Management Accounting (3–6 years): Is typically
                                                              makes recommendations for changes as needed, ensures
responsible for a segment of the overall management
                                                              that company policies and procedures are followed
accounting system and often is assigned special or project
                                                              and establishes the proper techniques to discover and
cost studies.
                                                              prevent fraud. He or she also selects areas of concern for
                                                              operational auditing.
Senior-Tax Accounting (3–6 years): Is responsible for one
or more of the following areas: federal, state and local
                                                              Assistant Controller: Reports to the Controller and
income taxes; sales tax; property tax; or payroll tax.
                                                              assists in the supervision of day-to-day collection and
                                                              interpretation of accounting data. The person in this role
Senior-Internal Audit (3–6 years): Supervises the testing
                                                              oversees statutory and management reporting functions,
of internal control and accounting information systems. He
                                                              though scope varies with company size. Other duties
or she frequently conducts statistical samples of document
                                                              include preparing detailed journal entries and account
approval, performs special tests to uncover defalcations
                                                              analyses and assisting in tax return and financial statement
and performs operational audits for profit improvement

 Controller: Functions as the Chief Accounting Executive       Senior-Financial Planning/Analysis (3–6 years): Supervises
 responsible for organizing, directing and controlling         the staff in performing financial/economic analyses of new
 the work of the accounting personnel in collecting,           projects and analyses of merger and corporate growth
 summarizing and interpreting financial data for the use of    policies.
 management, creditors, investors and taxing authorities.
 As a member of the top management team, the controller        Treasury Operations Analyst (3–6 years): Assists manager
 helps develop forecasts for proposed projects of the          in analyzing the investment market and cash position of
 organization, measures actual performance against             the organization. Prepares detailed cash-flow reports and
 operating plans and standards and interprets the results of   forecasts for the organization.
 operations for all levels of management.
                                                               Senior-Credit Analysis (3–6 years): Supervises in
 Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Advises the President          collection follow-up, operations, management of credit
 or CEO of the organization with respect to financial          approval practices and analyses of collection/audit activity.
 reporting, financial stability, liquidity and growth, and
 financial strategy, design and execution. He or she directs   Manager, Financial Planning/Analysis (6+ years):
 and supervises the work of the Controller, Treasurer,         Directs the staff responsible for performing analyses in
 and sometimes the Internal Auditing Manager. Other            several functional areas including profit planning, capital
 duties may include maintenance of relationships with          expenditures, acquisitions and budgeting.
 stockholders, financial institutions and the investment
 community. Frequently, the CFO is a member of the Board       Assistant Treasurer (6+ years): Directs the staff in cash
 of Directors and/or the Executive Committee and, as           management activities, including forecasting and investing
 such, contributes to overall organization planning, policy    and is the primary contact for banking relations issues. The
 development and implementation.                               person in this role also analyzes the investment portfolio
                                                               and market to determine the most beneficial cash position
 Financial Management                                          for the company.
 Staff-Financial Planning/Analysis (1–3 years): Works
 at the direction of a Senior or Manager in performing         Manager-Credit Analysis (6+ years): Directs the staff
 various financial or budget analyses. Assignments are in      in collection follow-up, operations and management of
 one or several areas, including profit planning, capital      credit approval practices and provides detailed analyses
 expenditures, investments, cash-flow budgeting and            of collection/audit activity to upper management.
 acquisitions.                                                 He/she sets standards to be followed in granting credit
                                                               and collecting.
 Staff-Cash Management (1–3 years): Performs such daily
 cash management functions as covering checks. He/she          Treasurer: Directs the functions dealing largely with
 assists in preparing cash-flow reports and forecasts and      the receipt, disbursement and protection of cash, the
 works with bank staff on various issues.                      preservation of company assets and the investment
                                                               of surplus funds or pension and trust funds. He/she
 Staff-Credit Analysis (1–3 years): Works under the            determines the optimal cash position for the organization
 direction of a Senior or Manager in collection activity and   and sets short-term investment policies. The Treasurer
 credit approval practices.                                    governs overall credit policy, negotiates loans, arranges
                                                               insurance coverage and maintains banking relationships.

Public Accounting                                              Tax Manager (6+ years): Directs and reviews Staff
                                                               and Senior Tax Staff, approves corporate tax returns
Staff Auditor (1–3 years): Performs the detail work of
                                                               prepared by Audit Staff and is available to Audit Staff for
a financial audit under the supervision of a Senior. Staff
                                                               consultation. The person in this role also performs tax
Auditors often will start to direct small audits at the
                                                               planning and preparation for individuals, estates, trusts
two-year level.
                                                               and small businesses and researches unusual tax matters.
                                                               Achievement of this level is critical to long-term success
Tax Staff (1–3 years): Prepares tax returns, researches tax
                                                               within a CPA firm, since it is awarded only to those with
questions and counsels clients on tax problems under the
                                                               Partner potential.
supervision of a Tax Senior and/or Tax Manager.

                                                               Management Services/Consulting Manager (6+ years):
Management Services/Consulting Staff (1–3 years):
                                                               Maintains direct contact with corporate personnel. This
Provides a variety of consulting and management advisory
                                                               manager is responsible for internal control procedures,
services and reviews the integrity of client systems under
                                                               operational control procedures, operational budgets,
the supervision of a Senior or Manager.
                                                               business financing, analyses of projects or departments and
                                                               a variety of special purpose studies. Achievement of this
Senior Auditor (3–6 years): Works under the general
                                                               level is critical to long-term success within a CPA firm, since
direction of an Audit Manager. Responsibilities include the
                                                               it is awarded only to those with Partner potential.
direction of audit field work, assignment of detail work to
Staff and review of their working papers. He or she also
                                                               Partner level: Is coveted since only about 2 percent of
prepares financial statements, develops corporate tax
                                                               all persons entering CPA firms will reach this level. A
returns and suggests improvements to internal controls.
                                                               Partner normally purchases equity in the firm. Typically, a
                                                               professional must be a CPA to become a Partner. In larger
Tax Senior (3–6 years): Works under the general direction
                                                               firms, an equivalent position of Principal is available to
of a Tax Manager and/or Tax Partner. The Tax Senior
                                                               deserving specialists who are non-CPAs. An Audit, Tax or
prepares or reviews tax returns for individuals and
                                                               Consulting Partner typically is responsible for overall client-
organizations, researches tax questions, offers suggestions
                                                               related activities.
for tax planning and studies law for potential tax savings.

                                                               Senior Partner: Performs all the duties of a Partner. The
Management Services/Consulting Senior (3–6 years):
                                                               achievement of Senior Partner is obtained as a result of
Works under the general direction of a Manager and/or
                                                               longevity with a firm and expert handling of instrumental
Partner. He or she performs and/or supervises detailed
                                                               accounts. The title of Senior Partner also may be attained
consulting assignments involving various functional
                                                               through participation as a member of the Executive
areas (computing, personnel and marketing) within client
                                                               Committee, which is responsible for developing the
                                                               firm’s policies, planning activities or providing day-to-day
                                                               management and administration of one or more branch
Audit Manager (6+ years): Supervises Seniors and Staff.
                                                               offices or regions.
This role is responsible for audit program approval,
personnel scheduling, audit working papers review,
financial statement disclosure footnote approval,
day-to-day client relationships, determination of billings
for engagements and training and evaluation of Staff and
Seniors. Achievement of this level is critical to long-term     Source:
success within a CPA firm, since it is awarded only to those    Accounting & Finance Salary Survey and Career Planning Guide, SourceFinance
                                                                Last modified 10/06
with Partner potential.

     Appendix C

     AICPA Competency Self-Assessment Tool                   • Accounting Education Center (for college faculty)                
     Your State of Balance                                        • The Young CPA Network
     Mentoring Program Guidelines                              YoungCPANetwork.aspx
                                                             Ready for the Exam?
     Promoting Your Talent: A Guidebook for Women and
     Their Firms And New Information for Women in Business
     and Industry by Nancy R. Baldgia
     Talent:+A+Guidebook+for+Women+and+Their+Firms.htm       AICPA Certifications and Sections
                                                             • Business Valuation and Forensic & Litigation Services
     AICPA Membership                                          Section / Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV)                                  

     AICPA Volunteer Committee                               • Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)               

     AICPA Career Resources                                  • IT Section / Certified Information Technology                        Professional (CITP)|
     AICPA Audit Committee Effectiveness Center                                          • Personal Financial Planning Section / Personal Financial
                                                               Specialist (PFS)
     Free—AICPA Career Insider™ Newsletter           
     globalcareercenter#LearnMore                            • Tax Section
     360 Degrees of Financial Literacy                   U.S. Department of Labor — Occupational Outlook

     AICPA Websites                                          Career Tools — Robert Half International
     • Start Here, Go Places. (for high school students,
       teachers and guidance counselors)                                Career Advice—Ajilon Finance
     • This Way To CPA (for college students and CPA         Pages/Accountingfinance.aspx


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