Inside Government Accountant Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Work Varies Widely...
Most people would be surprised to learn that, although I have an accounting degree, my work is far from traditional accounting. I create IT proposals, evaluate systems changes, and work on multi-disciplinary projects." (Systems Accountant; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, male
School: Studied Accounting at Loyola University in Maryland; completed Bachelor degree in 2000

"Military Pay Has Many Components...
I was surprised by the complexity of the computations involved in determining a military veterans disability benefits. There are so many variables that affect the pay, some are obvious like age and years of service while others are quite surprising." (Military Pay Technician; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Political Science at Bowling Green State University in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"How Useless My Degree Was Without Sales Skills...
Accounting is all about sales, you will never go anywhere without passing the CPA exam, and virtually nothing in college prepared me for the exam." (Accountant; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Accounting at St Ambrose University in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 2000

"I was surprised to find that I needed a lot of patience and excellent social skills for being a tax assessor. I have to go out to people's homes daily to inspect their property for improvements to their homes and so I get some people that are upset because they feel that their taxes should be raised higher. So patience and social skills come in handy as I use my charm and wit to calm them down and get my point across as to why I need to come and reassess their homes." (Tax Assessor; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied Journalism at Temple University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Accountant: "The best part of the job are the numbers. I really enjoy working with numbers and as an accountant I spend most of my day working in that capacity. I love working with Excel spreadsheets and design a lot of spreadsheets to help make my job easier. The worst part of my job is when some of my customers are upset or have trouble understanding some of the limits I may put on their spending. Sometimes even if a spending request is valid or can help an agency be more responsible or efficient, the money cannot be used that way due to laws enacted by the State legislature. It is hard to have to enforce those limits." (2011)

Career Background

Government Accountant

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Before You Declare A Major And Devote Your Career Path To That Ma...
Work in the field in the specific type of office you are looking to work in after graduation before you declare a major. I don't care if it is volunteer work filing. See what the job requirements and demands are about for yourself." (Accountant; 2014)

"Not Just For Auditors...
Accounting degrees are not just for those who want to audit or file tax returns. On the contrary, accounting degrees allow graduates to enter fields in finance, government, business, and even law enforcement. Therefore, please consider a degree in accounting even if you do not want to follow the stereotypical accounting career arc." (Systems Accountant; 2013)

"Excel Training Very Useful...
Achieve a high level of comfort with Microsoft Excel, including the ability to write code which can make many processes of the job much easier if applied correctly." (Military Pay Technician; 2013)

"OK If You Don't Like Tax Accounting...
If you want to be an accountant, learn as much about Excel as you can. Also, try to learn about data warehouses and how to query information from raw data. That is very helpful. Not every person who becomes an accountant is interested in tax accounting. There are a lot of other ways that accounting is used. Don't assume that if you don't like tax work you shouldn't pursue an accounting career." (Accountant; 2011)