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A is for Accountant

What Exactly Do Accountants Do?

Accounting is not so much math as understanding the concept of "debit and credit". According to Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), accountants examine, analyze, and interpret accounting records to prepare financial statements, give advice, or audit and evaluate statements prepared by others. They also install or advise on systems of recording costs or other financial and budgetary data, analyze financial information, and prepare financial reports to determine or maintain record of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities within an organization.

Types of Accountants
Jobs Functions Degree Required
  • post the transactions and reconcile the accounts of the business
  • Accounts Receivable/Payable
High School (Entry Level Position)
  • financial statement preparation and analysis
  • budgeting and planning, cost control
  • risk assessment
  • internal control, segregation of duties, and industry knowledge
Bachelors Degree
Technical Accountant/Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • payroll tax (although a good bookkeeper or controller will know how to do this, too) and year-end requirements (W-2s and 1099s)
  • Sales tax compliance and filing
Bachelors Degree + State Certification
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • complex strategies such as IPOs and financing for the larger company
  • manage cash flow, debt ratios, and financing options.
  • highest level of accounting executive
Bachelors Degree + Experience in a related position

Degrees and Certificates Available in Accounting

There are many colleges in Minnesota that offer many different certificates and awards in accounting with curricula that give a solid foundation in accounting principles and practices for entry-level accounting positions in nearly every industry. The higher the educational attainment in accounting, the better the compensation. Below is a table showing wages for graduates who obtained a range of accounting certificates and awards between 2012 and 2013.

Degrees and Certificates Available in Accounting
Awards Instructional Program Graduates Median Hourly Wage (1 Year After) Median Hourly Wage (2 Years After) Top Industry of Employment
All Awards Accounting and Related Services 2,104 $19.54 $21.64 Professional and Technical Services
Certificates (less than Bachelor's Degrees) Accounting and Related Services 160 $14.73 $16.14 Retail Trade
Associate Degree Accounting and Related Services 584 $15.58 $17.10 Finance and Insurance
Bachelor Degree Accounting and Related Services 1,281 $21.75 $24.04 Professional and Technical Services
Graduate Degree Accounting and Related Services 79 $24.86 $26.41 Professional and Technical Services
Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Graduate Employment Outcomes in Minnesota

Where do Accountants Work in Minnesota?

Since the primary goal of any business is to make a profit and stay in business without the threat of liquidation for the foreseeable future, all businesses need skilled accounting services. Accountants in Minnesota work in industries from Professional and Business Services to Natural Resource and Mining. Below is a table showing the industries in which accountants are employed, total employment, and median wage in Minnesota.

First Quarter 2015 Employment Estimates
Industry OES Employment OES Median Wage
Professional and Business Services 11,320 $31.17/hr
Financial Activities 3,800 $30.03/hr
Trade, Transportation, and Utilities 2,340 $30.67/hr
Manufacturing 2,170 $32.56/hr
Educational and Health Services 1,910 $28.48/hr
Public Administration 1,330 $30.43/hr
Construction 790 $33.34/hr
Other Services 460 $28.78/hr
Leisure and Hospitality 320 $23.02/hr
Natural Resources and Mining 50 $29.26/hr
Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Occupational Employment Statistics

Wage and Employment Outlook

Currently there are over 25,000 accountants employed in Minnesota. Statewide employment projections show that this occupation is set to grow by 7.2 percent between 2012 and 2022, opening up 1,854 new accounting jobs over the 10-year period. An additional 7,620 accounting job openings will result from retirements, changes of careers, occupation change, or workers who leave the geographical area. This will result in an estimated 9,470 total openings according to the 10 year projection. Most accountants in Minnesota are hired in the Seven-County Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. The table below shows areas, projections, and median wage distributions.

First Quarter 2015 Employment Estimates
Geography OES Employment Median Wage Projections % Change 2012-2022
Minnesota 24,490 $30.60/hr 7.20%
Seven County Metro 18,950 $31.55/hr 6.90%
Central Minnesota 1,760 $27.89/hr 11.90%
Southwest Minnesota 1,190 $27.21/hr 3.80%
Northwest Minnesota 890 $28.35/hr 11.40%
Northeast Minnesota 810 $27.58/hr 4.50%
Southeast Minnesota N/A $28.62/hr 1.50%
Source: DEED, Labor Market Information Office, Occupational Employment Statistics


Regardless of the size of an organization, a good bookkeeping and accounting presence is very pertinent to business continuity. Accounting is a system that identifies, records, and communicates information that is relevant, reliable, and comparable to other firms', to help both internal and external users make informed decisions. Accounting's influence in operating, financing, and investing is critical to the survival and growth of any business.

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