You may see an accountant only during tax season, but the truth is, accountants work behind the scenes in small and large companies throughout the year. Accountants play an important role in a company’s success.

Specifically, accountants prepare and examine financial records. They make sure the records are accurate, that taxes are paid on time, and that payments for goods and services are costs that were anticipated. They analyze how a company spends money to see how the business can operate more efficiently.

While every successful business needs the help of a trustworthy accountant, an accountant’s responsibilities usually fall within five major categories:

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and analyze financial records for organizational and tax purposes. They have at least a bachelor’s degree and earn a median salary of $69,350. The field is growing faster than average (Bureau of Labor Statistics).


Bookkeepers create financial reports, prepare payroll and tax returns, conduct audits and assist in financial decisions for an organization. Many enter the field with an associate degree. Median salary for bookkeepers is $39,240 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks keep records, assist customers and complete transactions. They often have on-the-job training. The median salary is $38,680 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts track an organization’s spending and prepare reports. They have at least a bachelor’s degree and earn a median salary of $75,240 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents conduct audits and review tax returns for local, state and federal governments. They earn a median salary of $53,130 (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and often have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Accountants are often at their best when they are working with numbers and details. They are keen, meticulous, and well organized. Generally, they excel in math.

Accountants enter the field with differing levels of education. The entry point is an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree allows for greater responsibilities and higher salary, and is a step toward a master’s degree in business administration or other advanced degree.

According to Robert Half International, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) is the credential preferred most by business. As careers advance, many accountants get licensed as CPAs.

Accounting at COM

College of the Mainland offers both an associate degree and certificate for aspiring accountants.

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in accounting prepares students to be successful in the field of accounting by teaching personal and professional skills. The program offers workplace-relevant courses in accounting, payroll, tax preparation, business, and accounting-related computer software applications.

The degree can be completed in four semesters.

Also available is the two-semester Professional Bookkeeper Certificate which comprises six courses in Business Computer Applications, Business Math, Introduction to Accounting, Computerized Accounting Applications, Federal Income Tax for Individuals, and Business Law.

An Occupational Skills Award in Accounting, which can be completed in one semester, is also available for those who wish to enter the field as quickly as possible.

College credits earned at COM transfer into degree programs at most other accredited colleges and universities in the nation.

To learn more, contact the Business and Computer Technologies department at COM at 409-933-8311, or email