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Daniel Chin

Choosing A Career: Accountant & Teacher

By: Daniel Chin
College Now Course - SD 11

Choosing a career is never an easy thing to do. There are many things to consider, for instance, the average salary, job security, education and skill requirement, etc. Through SD 11, I have been able to narrow my career choices down to two careers. These two careers are being an accountant and being a teacher.

Accountants help to ensure that businesses are run properly, their public records kept accurately, and its taxes paid properly and on time. These main functions are performed by offering services of business and accounting to their clients. These services include public, management, and government accounting, as well as internal auditing. However, the services of an accountant has increased. These additions include budget analysis, financial and investment planning, information technology consulting, and limited legal services. Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities for their clients, who may be corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. Management accountants, also called industrial, corporate or private accountants record and analyze the financial information of the companies for which they work. Government accountants and auditors maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Internal auditors verify the accuracy of their organization's records and check for mismanagement, waste, or fraud.

Most accountants work in a typical office setting. Self-employed accountants may be able to do most of their work at home. Accountants and auditors employed by public accounting firms and government agencies may travel frequently to perform audits at branches of their firm, clients' places of business, or government facilities. Most accountants and auditors generally work a standard 40-hour week, but many work longer hours, particularly if they are self-employed and have numerous clients. Tax specialists often work long hours during the tax season.

Usually, the amount of schooling required to be an accountant is at least four years in a post-secondary institution (including 24 semester hours in accounting or auditing). This means a person aspiring to be an accountant would have to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration or another related field. Someone holding a master's degree in accounting will always have an advantage over someone who doesn't. Previous experience in accounting or auditing can help an applicant get a job. Many colleges offer students an opportunity to gain experience through summer or part-time internship programs by public accounting or business firms. A four-part Uniform CPA Examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA) is given to those who are CPA (Certified Public Accountant) candidates.

Accountants and auditors who have earned professional recognition through certification or licensure should have the best job prospects. For example, Certified Public Accountants should continue to enjoy a wide range of job opportunities, especially as more States require candidates to have 150 hours of college coursework, making it more difficult to obtain this certification. Certified Management Accountants should be in demand as their management advice is increasingly sought after. Applicants with a master's degree in accounting, or a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting, also will have an advantage in the job market. Proficiency in accounting and auditing computer software, or expertise in specialized areas such as international business, specific industries, or current legistration, also may be helpful in landing certain accounting and auditing jobs. In addition, employers increasingly seek applicants with strong interpersonal and communication skills. Because many accountants work in teams with others from different backgrounds, they must be able to communication accounting and financial information clearly and concisely. Regardless of one's qualifications, however, competition will remain keen for the most prestigious jobs in major accounting and business firms.

In 2000, the median annual earnings of accountants and auditors were $43,500. The middle half of the occupation earned between $34,290 and $56,190. The top 10 percent of accountants and auditors earned more than $73,770 and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $28,190.

Teachers help educate students on a variety of subjects including English, mathematics, science, history and others. They help children understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thought processes. For example, they teach the concept of numbers or adding and subtracting by playing board games. As children get older, they use more sophisticated materials such as science apparatus, cameras, or computers.

Middle and secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school and expose them to more information about the world. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, Spanish, mathematics, history or biology. They also can teach subjects that are career-oriented. Vocational education teachers instruct and train students to work in a wide variety of fields, such as health care, business, auto repair, communications and, increasingly, technology. They often teach courses that are in high demand by area employers, who may provide input into the curriculum and offer internships to students.

Seeing students develop skills and gain appreciation of knowledge and learning can be very rewarding. However, teaching may be frustrating when one is dealing with unmotivated or disrespectful students. Occasionally, teachers must cope with unruly behavior and violence in the schools. Teachers may experience stress when dealing with large classes, students from disadvantaged or multicultural backgrounds, and heavy workloads. Schools, particularly in inner cities, may be run down and lack the amenities of schools in wealthier communities.

Including school duties performed outside the classroom, many teachers work more than 40 hours a week. Most teachers work the traditional 10 month school year with a 2 month vacation during the summer. During the vacation break, those on the 10 month schedule may teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue other personal interests. Many enroll in college courses or workshops to continue their education. Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 8 weeks, are on vacation for 1 week, and have a 5 week midwinter break.

All 50 States and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Licensure is not required for teachers in private schools. Usually licensure is granted by the State board of education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually nursery school through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12).

All states require general education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits as well as supervised practice teaching. About one-third of the States also require technology training as part of the teacher certification process. A number of States require specific minimum grade point averages for teacher licensure. Other States require teachers to obtain a master's degree in education, which involves at least 1 year of additional coursework beyond the bachelor's degree, with a specialization in a particular subject.

Job opportunities for teachers over the next 10 years should be excellent, attributable mostly to the large number of teachers expected to retire. Although employment of preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations, a large proportion will be eligible to retire by 2010, creating many vacancies, particularly at the secondary school level.

Median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $37,610 to $42,080 in 2000; the lowest 10 percent earned $23,320 to $28,450; the top 10 percent earned $57,590 to $64,920. Median earnings for preschool teachers were $17,810. Beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $27,989 in the 1999-2000 school year. The estimated average salary of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the 1999-2000 school year was $41,820. Private school teachers generally earn less than public school teachers.

After I have taken time to explore both careers, I have gained even more interest in them. If it is possible, I would like to combine both careers. I am relatively good with numbers and do well in the subject of mathematics, so a career in accounting would be perfect. Being a high school math teacher would also be a good fit for me. Also, being a coach for a high school sports team would be an interest of mine as well.