When is an Accounting Firm needed?

The label “Accounting Firm” applies to three different service companies: 1) CPA Firm, 2) Tax Preparation Firm, and 3) Bookkeeping Firm. Each is important in the right conditions, and in some cases legally required. For instance, publicly traded companies must seek the services of a CPA accounting firm for financial audits.

Let’s look at each type of accounting firm separately and understand when they are most critical.

CPA Firm

As noted above, publicly traded companies are required to have annual audits by a CPA accounting firm. For the largest CPA firms, audits are their bread-and-butter income. In some companies and organizations, licensed auditors might spend thousands of billable hours sampling and testing the company’s accounting system to ensure proper controls are in place and that their financial records represent the company fairly. The CPA firm turns out an audit report at the end of the process that is
then included in the company’s annual report.

There are relatively few large CPA firms. Most CPA Accounting firms are smaller one-office firms led by one to three CPA’s that provide services to smaller companies. These services might include audits of small publicly traded companies, management consulting, and business tax preparation services.

Typically, they will not do bookkeeping and tax preparation, except for their business clients. In those cases where they do offer tax preparation for individuals, they charge a premium in my experience.

Tax Preparation Firm

Although tax preparation is often thought of as a CPA skill, most Certified Public Accountants do not prepare taxes, other than their own, perhaps. Likewise, very few tax preparers are CPA’s. Instead, most tax preparers start by doing their own taxes, enjoying it, then doing taxes for friends and family. Eventually, they decided to start offering it for a fee and either join up with a tax preparation firm or hang out their own shingle.

There are several large tax preparation firms, the largest being H&R Block. These firms hire seasonal workers and will provide some training at the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, most tax prep firms are small single practitioner accounting firms that specialize in income tax preparation for individuals. Most tax professionals work during tax season. If they are successful and watch their spending, they may earn enough during those few short months (January to April) to enjoy vacationing the rest of the year. Some tax preparers will offer bookkeeping during their slow seasons.

Bookkeeping Firm

These are typically small, privately owned accounting firms that provide bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses (less than 50 employees). Often, they operate from the accountant’s home, and they may serve up to a dozen clients. They will pick up transaction detail from the client monthly or quarterly and provide financial statements on the same schedule. Nearly every bookkeeping firm will also provide full payroll servicing.

A full-service bookkeeping firm will also provide management consulting including helping the owner interpret the financial statements and provide suggestions for improving financial wealth and profitability. If trained in business tax forms, these professionals will offer tax preparation services in addition to their writeup services.

Learn more about what you can do to have your own successful accounting firm and the opportunities available in your area HERE.

If you also listen to podcasts, consider “Building the Premier Accounting Firm”!

How to Get a Tax License

If you’re thinking about getting a tax license, you’re on track for a lucrative addition to your career. Becoming a certified Professional Tax Preparer is an excellent step toward a satisfying financial future. Many people obtain their tax license and use it as a stepping stone to other opportunities, such as owning a tax services business. Simply including tax preparation skills on your resume and getting a tax license is an excellent pathway for advancing your current career.

Universal Accounting leads the way in small business tax training and is approved by the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) to offer the Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) certification as a distance learning course in California. Universal Accounting offers a money-back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with your tax preparation course, you can simply return your materials and receive your money back.

What Is IRS Tax Certification?

An IRS-certified tax preparer has unlimited rights to represent their clients in front of the IRS. Because IRS preparation is detailed and constantly changing, IRS-certified tax preparers can help clients better navigate the complexities of the system, including tax payments, audits, and preparing appeals in the event of an IRS error. Certified tax preparers are consultants who have a right to be paid for the work they perform for clients.

When you choose a reputable tax preparation certification course, it will include current information on tax laws. It will also prepare students for changes in tax laws for the upcoming years. The course will train students in state and federal tax forms and how to prepare them accurately.

I Want to Become Certified: What’s Next?

Tax preparers don’t have to be IRS-certified to work with clients and be compensated for their work, but certification is the best route to take if they plan to pursue a career in the field. Not only can certification increase future salaries and add more opportunities to the table, but it can also increase demand for services.

Certification is possible through IRS-approved educational training courses. Those interested in taking the next step in certification can find official courses listed on the IRS website. It’s essential to ensure the IRS has vetted the courses to make the certification official in the government’s eyes.

Luckily, modern technology has made hands-on tax preparation education more accessible and flexible than ever before. Online courses are a convenient way to enhance education while juggling family life and work responsibilities because they are available on-demand, day or night.

After you make the choice to pursue your tax license, it is time to find the program that is right for you, aligns with your goals, and is within your means.

How to Choose a Program

Students pursuing an IRS certification should keep a few things in mind when searching for a program. First and most importantly, the educational provider has to be listed as an IRS-approved course provider. Other aspects include:

  • Official “PTP” designation
  • Educational tuition assistance if necessary
  • Individual counselors
  • A timeline that aligns with their goals
  • Business coaching after completion

These aspects will help students set themselves up for success in the next phase of their careers.

Partnering with an organization such as Universal Accounting is an intelligent way to get started with a training course that encompasses all the aspects of a great program and is IRS-approved. The Professional Tax Preparer certification is a self-paced online training to prepare personal and business taxes and prepare students for the IRS’ enrolled agent (EA) exam.

The best certification programs support students after completing courses by partnering them with coaches and mentors with real-world experience. This additional training is invaluable to those looking to grow in the profession. The teachers and coaches at Universal Accounting know what it’s like to be successful tax preparers because they have experience in the field.

Reasons to Consider an Online Program

When students choose online tax education courses, like those offered by Universal Accounting, they can expect to learn via workbooks, videos, and various other reference materials. High-quality online courses are cutting edge and will include many elements of visual learning, as well as self-paced. This means you can return to materials and watch them again if needed.

Universal Accounting also offers instruction provided by experts in the tax and accounting fields. Students can expect to participate in real-world scenarios, which will help them prepare them firsthand for what it’s like working in the field.

What Happens After I’m Certified?

After certification, the next step is to receive recognition from the IRS. The first step will be an IRS preparer tax identification number, or PTIN. Registration is simple—visit the IRS website and register online for the PTIN in about 15 minutes. The application takes between four and six weeks to process. Once the number is official, certified tax preparers can use the number on forms and market themselves to clients as IRS-certified. This designation tells clients they will receive exceptional service and confidentiality and tells the IRS the tax preparer understands the complexities of their business.

In addition to the PTP and PTIN number, many tax preparers take an extra step to affiliate themselves with professional organizations. These memberships can carry weight for business owners running their firms or on resumes. Some of these include:

  • National Association of Tax Professionals
  • National Society of Tax Professionals
  • American Academy of Attorneys
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Society of Accountants
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents

These organizations are very picky with memberships and are an excellent way to show commitment to excellence in the field.

Ready to Get Licensed? Contact Us Today!

If you plan to grow in your career or start your own accounting business, certification is an essential part of the accounting and tax preparation industry. The extra step establishes credibility and trust that will far outweigh the costs.

Tax preparation will always be in demand, and Americans dreading tax season each year will appreciate a professional in their corner. Start your certification journey today. Contact Universal Accounting for more information.

Reasons to Pursue a Career in Accounting

If you’re good with numbers and interested in a well-paying, stable career path, it may be time to turn your attention to accounting. In fact, according to the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, the employment of accountants is projected to grow by four percent by 2029. 

 

If that’s not reason enough to strongly consider this career, here’s another statistic from the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections: The median annual wage for accountants, as of May 2019, is $71,550. This is much higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which sits at $53,490. And although the pay is certainly an influencing factor for most when choosing an accounting career path, it isn’t the only reason why it’s become so popular.

Accounting Career Paths

Unlike some career fields, in which there’s only one path to travel, there’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to accounting. Generally speaking, you’ll choose one of the following routes:

 

  • Managerial: Managerial accountants generate documents that are used internally within a company. This can include documents such as those used for tax purposes and recurring expenses. 
  • Financial: Financial accountants generate documents, such as balance sheets and a variety of income statements, which are used by outside parties, such as investors. 

 

By understanding the similarities and differences between managerial and financial accounting, it’s easier to decide which path you’re most passionate about.

 

With that in mind, let’s examine some of the most common types of accountants:

 

  • Staff Accountant: For many individuals with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, this is the first job they seek. Reporting to a CPA, you’ll take on responsibilities such as creating financial reports and analyzing a variety of data. You’ll also use a variety of tools, such as a cash flow calculator, to track progress and make informed decisions. 
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): From the outside looking in, it’s easy to believe that CPAs focus on nothing more than the preparation of state and federal tax returns. However, this career path goes much deeper than that. For example, companies often hire a CPA to oversee other accountants. 
  • Investment Accountant: Investment accountants typically work for financial management or investment management firm. With this career, you have the opportunity to help individuals and companies make better investments, such as sharing advice on how specific decisions will affect their taxes. 
  • Project Accountant: As the name implies, project accountants are hired to manage a specific project. Some of the tasks they may take on include preparing invoices, maintaining budgets, and managing and approving expenses. In many cases, project accountants are hired on a contract basis. 
  • Cost Accountant: The primary responsibility of a cost accountant is to maintain cost efficiency on behalf of an organization. However, unlike a project accountant, these individuals are generally hired on a full-time basis. 
  • Management Accountant: There’s no shortage of management accountant responsibilities, which often include external financial reporting, budgeting, and creating reports on the overall financial health of an organization. 

While these are among the most common accounting career paths, there are others to consider as you gain experience and come to better understand what you’re most passionate about. However, no matter the type of accounting path you may choose, there are plenty of benefits as well.

Top Reasons to Become an Accountant

There’s no shortage of reasons to become an accountant, but there’s something you must remember: It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reach your goal, so you must be 100 percent confident that it’s the right career path for you.

 

Here are five reasons to consider this career:

 

  • Above-average pay: As noted above, the median annual wage for accountants is more than $71,000/year. 
  • Job security: Every organization needs accountants, so job security is typically high. 
  • Career advancement opportunities: As you gain experience and knowledge, you can seek out career advancement opportunities within your company and at other employers. For example, after several years of working as a staff accountant, you may want to consider becoming a CPA.
  • The opportunity to be your own boss: There may come a point when you realize that you no longer want to work for someone else. As an accountant, you can start your firm, such as helping individuals and/or companies with tax preparation.
  • Puzzle-solving fun: Accounting isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but if you like working with numbers it could be the perfect career path.

What’s Next?

Now that you better understand the reasons to pursue a career in accounting, it’s time to answer one very important question: Are you ready to head down this path?

 

If the answer is yes, assess your situation and decide what you need to do next. Become trained and certified Professional Bookkeeper. Once you have the right education and training, it’s time to land your first job. With the help of our job placement assistance program, it won’t be long before you have a career that puts a smile on your face, money in your pocket, and joy in your heart. Contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed.

How to Become a Bookkeeper: An Overview

Bookkeeping has been a critical part of our world, from the importance of record-keeping for early trading cultures along the Silk Road to helping to anthologize information throughout the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. All along the way, we have had bookkeepers manage accounts, produce reports, monitor spending, track revenue, invoice, and serve other vital organizational needs. Bookkeepers are essential.

It is important to distinguish between a bookkeeper and an accountant; bookkeepers record daily financial transactions for a business, whereas an accountant’s job is to interpret the financial transactions. As a bookkeeper, you will use software to process spreadsheets and record the entirety of the financial data.

There is a lot of appeal to becoming a bookkeeper today, especially compared to how bookkeeping has changed with the rise of technology. One of the main reasons that bookkeeping is an excellent option for a career is that you can work remotely if desired. Many companies have shifted to remote work to accommodate the global medical crisis, but there is a slim percentage of other remote full-time jobs that would provide better pay than working as a bookkeeper. Another appeal of becoming a bookkeeper is the ability to pursue a career in the world of accounting without a mandatory college education.

Education

If you’re interested in starting your career as a bookkeeper, you will need to meet some fairly typical standards for education, starting with a high school diploma or GED.  Do not be intimidated by getting your GED. No matter what your age, there are programs designed to help you succeed. Attending a university is a great experience, but most companies do not require it when hiring bookkeepers. However, an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in business administration or accounting does allow you to work for employers who expect a higher level of education.

You need to be savvy and confident in math skills and problem-solving, have thorough attention to detail, and be highly organized to be a thriving bookkeeper. There are plenty of other options in the world of information than traditional education via a college or university as long as there is a strong will to learn. If you are particularly self-motivated, you can obtain a lot of the same information through textbooks pertinent to accounting, but the cost of this literature is usually relatively high.

The more you are willing to invest in your future career, whether monetarily or temporally, the more desirable results you will find. At Universal Accounting School, you’ll have access to personalized assistance.

Training

To become a trained and well-prepared applicant, you will want to familiarize yourself with accounting software. We offer a Professional Bookkeeping certification designed in response to the increasing demand for small business bookkeepers. Using our educational content, you can become a self-taught bookkeeper in a relatively short time, depending on your schedule and how much time you are willing to put into the process. If you are willing to invest in your future within this field, starting with our Professional Bookkeeper certification course is a step in the right direction and is compacted into a few lessons. This course is designed to take three to four months, and you will be able to start looking for work after you complete the course.

If you are eager and have taken steps to prepare yourself, entry-level bookkeeping jobs are pretty ubiquitous in our society, as businesses are everywhere, and they all require the attention of bookkeepers. Many full-time starting positions will offer a training period of up to six months to get their employees up to speed on the software they use, their clientele, and other factors that contribute to their work environment.

Work Environment

There is no better training than direct experience. Although it can be intimidating to find work in the large world of business administration and accounting, many employers are willing to train individuals who are committed to becoming successful bookkeepers. Confidence, a positive attitude, and a plethora of applications will eventually land you a position with a company.

After you are hired as a bookkeeper for the first time, you should plan to stay with a company long enough to become a professional in your field. That amount of time can look very different to different people, but typically, new bookkeepers will want to spend a few years with the same company. However, this does not mean you should continue to offer your time to an employer that does not see your potential and help you reach it.

You might want to become a freelance bookkeeper, which is a common transition for many long-term professionals. This option is appealing to many because freelancers set their own rates and schedules, and have more deeply connected relationships with their clients.

As a freelance bookkeeper, you will be setting your rates and working for multiple clients simultaneously. Clients expect a range of services, including the ability to oversee payroll, solve wage and deduction management calculations, and manage accounts receivable, loss reports, and expenditure reports, so you will need to be highly organized and well-rounded in your capabilities.

Should You Become a Bookkeeper?

If this information resonates with your goals, you should not hesitate to step on to that path, doing everything in your power to succeed. You do necessarily need to commit to higher education, and the timeline for becoming a working bookkeeper is very flexible. Review the programs we offer, then contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed.

Donna Parsons, A career worth pursing, and now she has a successful bookkeeping business

Donna Parsons started young and walked the path to become an accounting professional. Following a traditional path she attended school to receive her degrees and then employment. Soon the desire was intense enough to act and start her accounting business.

First she started with a few clients supplementing her income and then it was too much to resist so she quit and went full-time. Now she is “all in” and things are good.

Donna is both happy and busy.

Take a moment and hear her story and what insights she has to share.

Consider having your own successful accounting business:

Accounting Firm Business Model

Get the confidence to offer quality accounting services:

Accountant Certification Programs

Get the support you need to be in business for yourself but not by yourself:

Power Coaching & Training Program

Consider the success stories of so many others:

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