This handout is for information only and does not serve as official CB policy.
What is accounting?
Accountants practice accounting which is the art and science of:
- Identifying, processing, and analyzing an organization's data and information, then
- Helping decision makers use it to make their decisions.
Traditionally, accountants have worked with financial data and information generated by the economic transactions that organizations engage in. Accountants use that information to produce:
- Financial Statements--used by investors and creditors to make decisions about investing and lending;
- Tax Returns and Regulatory Reports--used by governments to verify compliance with various international, national, and local laws and regulations; and
- Managerial Reports--used by managers and employees to make decisions about the organization's operations.
Accountants (known as auditors) also use their skills and knowledge to verify that an organization's financial information has been prepared in a manner that complies with certain national and international standards.
Why should I consider an accounting career?
Accounting is a demanding and stressful profession that provides accounting professionals with both economic and psychological rewards. Those who are most likely to have successful and fulfilling careers are especially attentive to the latter and choose a career path that is consistent with their personalities. Successful accountants are:
- Goal & Work Oriented
- Logical & Creative Problem Solvers
- Excellent Communicators
- Team Players
Contrary to the popular impression, accountants must enjoy working with people. Accounting is about people more so than numbers.
Because there are so many different kinds of decision makers who use an organization's financial information, there are many different career paths in accounting. Those paths are generally described as:
- Public Accounting: accountants employed by a firm that is hired by other organizations and individuals to provide attestation, tax, and consulting services.
- Industry Accounting: accountants employed by a profit-motivated company to provide a variety of financial and managerial accounting services such as processing payroll and determining the cost of producing products.
- Not-for-Profit Accounting: accountants employed by a governmental or other organization that is not profit motivated. They provide a variety of financial and managerial accounting services such as processing payroll, determining the cost of providing services, and reviewing regulatory reports and tax returns.
- How do I prepare at CWU for an accounting career?
All accounting professionals need:
- A broad business education that allows them to understand the entire business, to communicate with non-accountants and
- An accounting education that allows them to communicate with accountants in other specializations.
Consequently, CWU accounting majors must take a variety of courses in finance, marketing, management, and operations management and information systems. They also must take a common core of accounting courses:
- Sophomore Year--ACCT 251, Accounting I; ACCT 252, Accounting II
- Junior Year--ACCT 305, Cost Accounting; ACCT 346, Income Tax Accounting; ACCT 350, Intermediate Accounting I; ACCT 351, Intermediate Accounting II
- Senior Year--ACCT 455, Accounting Information Systems (or MIS 386); ACCT 460, Auditing
They also must select from the following electives so that they have a total of 40 credit hours in upper division accounting courses (300-400).
ACCT 405, Advanced Cost Accounting; ACCT 430, Accounting for Non-Profit Organizations; ACCT 431, CPA Review of Non-Profit Accounting; ACCT 444, Tax Research and Planning; ACCT 446, Income Tax Accounting II; ACCT 450, Advanced Accounting; ACCT 461, Fraud Examination; ACCT 470, Accounting Theory; ACCT 475, International Accounting; ACCT 484, Professional Writing and Speaking for the Accountant; ACCT 485, Current Issues in Accounting; ACCT 489, Managerial Controllership; and BUS 341, Advanced Business Law.
Additional information is available in CWU's online course catalog.
In addition, accounting majors who plan to take the CPA exam must have a total of 225 quarter hour credits. CWU offers a Master of Professional Accountancy program to help majors meet this requirement.
- Information on pursuing a PhD in Accounting
- Where can I find more information?
Fortunately, accounting professionals are very proud of their profession and happy to provide potential accountants with information and guidance. The best sources of information are probably the various professional organizations that different kinds of accountants belong to, including the:
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants--a page for aspiring certified public accountants and about the CPA examination
- Institute of Management Accountants--information for management accountants and about the CMA examination
- Institute of Internal Auditors--information for internal auditors and about the CIA examination
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners--information and education for anti-fraud professionals