Operational accounting is the practice of minding the financial aspects of running a business, whether small or large. Operational accountants are directors, controllers, and planners. They often plan a business’s financial operations as well as mind a company’s ledger while working with executive management to create and control budgets. They are also responsible for ensuring that actual business activities are in line with the organization’s plans. To do so, they provide management with detailed financial reports that compare actual revenues and expenses with what the original estimations were.
Requirements for Becoming an Operational Accountant
For entry-level work, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration, or a related field is typically required. Financial managers, which are senior operational accountants in large firms or corporate capacities, typically need to have at least five years of experience in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Certification is recommended but not typically required, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, but to qualify you must have a bachelor’s degree, four years of work experience, or a combination of both. You also have to pass three exams. Another option is the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) credential offered by the Association for Financial Professionals. This certificate is available to those who pass a computer-based exam and have at least two years of professional experience or one year of experience and a graduate degree.
Salary and Career Outlook for Operations Accountants
Operational accountants can have an extremely varied salary range, as some operational accountants are financial managers. These advanced occupations had a median salary of $134,180 in 2020, according to the BLS. Higher-earning operational accounting positions, like financial managers, are projected to grow by 15% between 2019 and 2029. Entry and mid-level accountants are projected to enjoy steady job growth and good occupational outcomes during this period as well.
Operational accounting is an essential part of any functioning business. In the professional world, accountants in this discipline are expected to be well versed in accounting laws and regulations and current on the latest changes to these standards. Accounting professionals are especially susceptible to the highs and lows of the ever-changing economy.
Twenty-four percent of the workforce performing accounting and auditing jobs in the U.S. in 2019 worked in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services, according to the BLS. Due to the prevalence of scandals and corporate financial crises, operational accountants with expertise in business law, as well as international commerce, may go far in this field.
Continuing Education for Operational Accountants
Continuing education may provide accountants not only with additional knowledge of their occupation, but also invaluable vocational skills. After becoming certified and licensed, operational accountants are in need of continuing education course credits to satisfy their minimum certification requirements and maintain licensure. Most accounting professionals pursue certified public accountant (CPA) certification initially, but may add extra credentials to their CPA status later.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) offers extensive information on its website for prospective operational accountants seeking continuing education course work in this industry. Candidates in a certification and/or continuing education program in operational accounting typically study performance management, cost management, internal controls, professional ethics, corporate finance, and financial statement analysis, among other topics specifically involving business and corporate operations.
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