Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Government Accountant

Job Description:

Government accountants can work at the federal, state, or local level and maintain and examine records of government agencies making sure revenues are received and spent according to laws and regulations. They may prepare accounting statements and budgets and handle payroll. Government accountants may also audit private businesses and individuals to make sure they’re complying with taxation and other government regulations.

Government accountants must hold at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers will favor candidates with CPA (certified public accountant) certification and/or a specialized or advanced degree in government accounting. Additional licensure will depend on the job and agency.
Median Salary:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage for government accountants employed by the federal executive branch of government was $90,560 in 2012. The federal government is named as one of the top paying industries for government accountants. For government accountants employed at the local level earned an annual mean wage of $60,660, while state government accountants earned $55,850.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 16% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Accountants are expected to see a wide range of employment opportunities across many diverse specialty sectors, including local, state, and federal government. Accountants with skills specific to government finance are among a small percentage of sought-after professionals in the field of accounting. Major scandals and financial crises in the corporate world are expected to continue affecting the overall climate of the accounting occupation over the next seven years, along with stricter laws and regulations, which will likely require highly skilled government accountants to sort through. Government accountants with experience in law and the legal system, as well as global affairs, may find increased opportunities with the expansion of international financial commerce. State and local government, excluding education and hospitals, currently employs 7% of all accountants and auditors in the industry.

Continuing Education:

Government accountants may elect to take continuing education to not only develop professional skills but also maintain their certification. Generally, accountants typically obtain certified public accountant (CPA) status to qualify for industry employment. Some government accountants may chose to pursue specialized certification through continuing education approved by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). Government accounting course work may include governmental accounting and auditing, public sector auditing, government budgeting, and finance information system management. Going above-and-beyond the standard credential requirements with additional professional experience and supplemental education may provide enhanced career prospects for government accountants.