Accountants (GS-0510) offer an important skill set that is required across the entire spectrum of federal government.This series covers positions that advise on or administer, supervise, or perform professional accounting work that requires application of accounting theories, concepts, principles, and standards to the financial activities of governmental, quasi-governmental, or private sector organizations.
The federal government employs 13,078 in this occupation of which 79 work overseas. The DOD is the largest employer of this series with 2,593 accountants, the Department of Justice employs 856, the VA employs 769 and the Department of the Army employs 1,078 civilians in this category. This series is used in all cabinet level departments, most large agencies and many small agencies.
- Examine accounting documents for proper accounting classification and authorization.
- Enter and process data into various accounts and the general ledger, and resolving any differences.
- Prepare monthly trial balances and financial reports.
- Analyze financial data from domestic and/or foreign business firms.
- Work independent or in a team environment to research problems and provide responses to requests.
- Must be a U.S. citizen.
- Entry Level Salary range is from $43,684.00 to $69,460.00 per year.
Note: Senior Accountants can earn over $160,000 a year.
Degree: accounting; or a degree in a related field such as business administration, finance, or public administration that included or was supplemented by 24 semester hours in accounting. The 24 hours may include up to 6 hours of credit in business law.
Combination of education and experience
- 4 years of experience in accounting, or an equivalent combination of accounting experience, college-level education, and training that provided professional accounting knowledge.
- The applicant’s background must also include one of the following: 24 semester hours in accounting or auditing courses of appropriate type and quality. This can include up to 6 hours of business law;
- A certificate as Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Internal Auditor, obtained through written examination; or Completion of the requirements for a degree that included substantial course work in accounting or auditing, e.g., 15 semester hours, but that does not fully satisfy the 24 semester-hour requirement provided that the applicant has successfully worked at the full-performance level in accounting, auditing, or a related field, e.g., valuation engineering or financial institution examining;
- A panel of at least two higher level professional accountants or auditors has determined that the applicant has demonstrated a good knowledge of accounting and of related and underlying fields that equals in breadth, depth, currency, and level of advancement that which is normally associated with successful completion of the 4-year course of study.
- Except for literal nonconformance to the requirement of 24 semester hours in accounting, the applicant’s education, training, and experience fully meet the specified requirements.
A GS-07 have one year of specialized experience at a level of difficulty and responsibility equivalent to the GS-05 grade level in the Federal services. Experience for this position includes performing a variety of routine accounting assignments, to include, interpreting and applying accounting laws, policies and procedures; recording financial transactions; analyzing and classifying financial reports to draw conclusions; providing guidance and assistance on a variety of financial matters; and preparing memos, letters, and other correspondence.
A GS-09 you must have one year of experience at a level of difficulty and responsibility equivalent to the GS-07 grade level in the Federal services. Experience for this position includes performing a variety of routine accounting assignments, to include, interpreting and applying accounting laws, policies and procedures; examining accounting documents for proper classification and authorization.
• Knowledge of accounting regulations, procedures, policies and precedents to carry out accounting functions.
• Knowledge of procedures used to enter, modify, retrieve, and delete information in an automated accounting system.
• Knowledge of accounting principles, practices, methods, and techniques to perform a variety of routine accounting assignments.
• Knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles of the United States and/or foreign countries to analyze financial data.
• Ability to communicate in person and in writing with internal and external customers.
Additional Information from ooh.gov
The following are examples of types of accountants and auditors:
Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting tasks. Their clients include corporations, governments, and individuals.
Public accountants work with financial documents that clients are required by law to disclose. These include tax forms and balance sheet statements that corporations must provide potential investors. For example, some public accountants concentrate on tax matters, advising corporations about the tax advantages of certain business decisions or preparing individual income tax returns.
Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), generally have their own businesses or work for public accounting firms. Publicly traded companies are required to have CPAs sign documents they submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including annual and quarterly reports.
Some public accountants specialize in forensic accounting, investigating financial crimes such as securities fraud and embezzlement, bankruptcies and contract disputes, and other complex and possibly criminal financial transactions. Forensic accountants combine their knowledge of accounting and finance with law and investigative techniques to determine if an activity is illegal. Many forensic accountants work closely with law enforcement personnel and lawyers during investigations and often appear as expert witnesses during trials.
Management accountants, also called cost,managerial,industrial, corporate, or private accountants, record and analyze the financial information of the organizations for which they work. The information that management accountants prepare is intended for internal use by business managers, not by the general public.
Management accountants often work on budgeting and performance evaluation. They also may help organizations plan the cost of doing business. Some may work with financial managers on asset management, which involves planning and selecting financial investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
Government accountants maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by federal, state, and local governments ensure that revenues are received and spent in accordance with laws and regulations.
Internal auditors check for mismanagement of an organization’s funds. They identify ways to improve the processes for finding and eliminating waste and fraud. The practice of internal auditing is not regulated, but The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) provides generally accepted standards.
External auditorsperform similar duties as internal auditors, but are employed by an outside organization, rather than the one they are auditing. They review clients’ financial statements and inform investors and authorities that the statements have been correctly prepared and reported.
Information technology auditors are internal auditors who review controls for their organization’s computer systems, to ensure that the financial data comes from a reliable source.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will often pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.
CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.
A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.
All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that they pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part.
Almost all states require CPAs to take continuing education to keep their license.
Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:
The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct. The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The IIA also offers the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) to those who pass the exams and meet educational and experience requirements.
ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems. Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.
For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. The ABV requires a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education. The CITP requires 1,000 hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.
Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.
Beginning public accountants often advance to positions with more responsibility in 1 or 2 years and to senior positions within another few years. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.
Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions. As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents.
Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants. However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting.
Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds.
Communication skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others. They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports.
Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation.
Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.
Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients.
Accountants are vital to making sure that our government is acting in a fiscally responsible manner, while following the proper accounting practices.
Helpful Career Planning Tools
The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.