An accountant is a person who engages in accounting activities. Someone in this position should have a higher level of formal accounting training than a bookkeeper, usually a four-year or five-year college degree. Because of this extra training, an accountant is expected to engage in the following activities that may be considered too difficult for a bookkeeper:
Analyzing financial statements
Conducting auditing activities
Conducting cost analysis
Creating journal entries
Preparing tax schedules
Setting up accounting processes
Accountants may be employed within a company, completing business transactions, setting up processes, and creating financial statements. Alternatively, they can be employed as auditors, either as internal auditors or by outside audit firms.
Accountants with sufficient training and experience can take either the CMA or CPA certification exams. If they pass these tests and meet all other requirements, they are professionally certified, though they must meet continuing professional education requirements in order to continue being certified.
Given the complexity of modern business systems and the need to ensure that they produce accurate financial statements, accountants form a large part of the administrative staff of an organization.