Government accountants maintain and analyze financial data that pertains to government agencies and any business or individual whose activities are regulated and taxed by the government. For example, accountants for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are employed by the federal government to analyze taxes received by businesses and individuals. A government accountant uses this data to regulate the flow of revenues and expenditures within their agency, auditing private businesses and individuals as necessary.
If your eye for detail and numbers is so precise that you can recognize others’ errors, and if you thrive while multitasking, you might be destined for a career as a government accountant. Before you start editing your resume, read on to see what a government accountant’s job entails.
Since a government accountant must feel comfortable working with multiple projects and a mountain of financial data, employers highly value candidates with specialized college degrees. For government accountants in particular, entry-level positions often require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance or accounting.
A government accountant helps ensure that businesses, agencies and pertinent individuals are maintaining legal financial practices. They might work in one of the following areas of finance:
IRS service agents are perhaps the most prominent of government accountants; they sift through the financial records of individuals, businesses and agencies to ensure they are receiving revenues and making expenditures in a legal manner, auditing when necessary.
In addition to earning a relevant degree, government accountants can work toward a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation, which is conferred by the Association of Government Accountants. To earn this title, a bachelor’s degree, two years of government experience, passed exams and 24 hours of study in financial management are required.
A government accountant’s salary depends on whether his or her position is considered federal, state or local government, as well as their educational background, work experience and job location.
Median annual earnings as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2006 cite local government accountants as making $50,120, while state government accountants made $47,200. Junior accountants for the federal government were offered an average starting salary of $28,862. However, in 2007, more seasoned accountants employed by the federal government commanded $78,665 a year.