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Congratulations, Accountants, You Have One of the Greatest Jobs Ever

Congratulations, people, U.S. News says you have one of the hottest jobs of 2012!

Logic and attention to detail are the name of the accounting game: This profession is the epitome of left-brain thinking. But most importantly, being an accountant means being passionate about numbers and the practical application of numbers. Many accountants are public accountants, tasked with accounting, auditing, taxes, and consulting for a variety of clients, which could be corporations, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. But there is more than one type of accountant. Forensic accountants specialize in investigating white-collar crimes like embezzlement and securities fraud; management accountants record and analyze financial information within a specific company; and government accountants are employed by federal, state, or local governments to maintain records of government agencies and audit private businesses or individuals whose activities fall under government regulation or taxation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15.7 percent growth for accountants between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the average growth for most other professions. An additional 190,700 accounting and auditing jobs will need to be filled during that time period. The profession's promising outlook has earned it the No. 21 spot on the Best Jobs of 2012 list.

Well isn't that nice! But let's look at the facts in an objective fashion just for kicks:

Unemployment in accounting is low compared to other professional services Have you checked in with your lawyer friends lately? Yeah, it's rough out there. Lucky for most of you, there's no shortage of work these days. The downside to this is that accounting then becomes a draw to those from outside the industry looking for steady employment, but we'll take care of those stragglers in our next point.

The CPA exam remains a barrier to entry – as it should be All those folks that might not be accountants in a different market who are jumping into your industry might be a bit put off by the idea of the CPA exam, suffer through a few years as staff accountant and bail as soon as the market looks up. This is good news for those of you who aren't "high performers" but aren't total useless losers either; those people will carry the brunt of the crap work and fall off the map the second things start getting better. As is, as long as the committed accounting students can survive the exam and trudge ever onward, they have a much better shot at a lifelong career than the fly-by-night real estate agents who went into accounting just to have a job when none of their colleagues do.

There's no shortage of work Financial criminals abound and with Dodd-Frank and other well-intentioned legislation following total debacles, it's a pretty safe bet to guess that most of you can stay busy for the next 5 – 10 years. Are audits any more complicated since the advent of the PCAOB? Not especially, but it takes more manpower to be PCAOB-compliant, pretty much ensuring a job for you and your little auditor friends for the foreseeable future. Congrats on that.

There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes Tax preparers will always be in demand but corporate tax experts moreso only because they can offer corporations the ability to navigate restrictive and complicated tax laws. I hear funeral directors are doing alright these days as well.

Financial information is not getting any easier to decode I bet a lot of you rarely think about this part of your jobs but CPAs are trusted financial advisers to their clients and are supposed to keep up on current events, understand complicated financial transactions and possibly be able to locate Jimmy Hoffa's body on a balance sheet. This may come as a shock to some of you but the ability to make sense of complicated financial information is quite the skill, and will become even more valuable when (if) IFRS launches in the U.S. since armchair financial statement quarterbacks familiar with GAAP will likely need help interpretating the change.

Is accounting the greatest job ever? Doubtful. Are there tons of opportunities for those with an accounting education willing to put in the time? Definitely. Calling it a "hot job" may be taking it a bit far but all of you should be somewhat proud knowing your industry has thrived in a time when many have flopped miserably. Congrats?

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